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Closure in a Relationship: Definition, Psychology, Need, How to Ask for it, and Everything Else

Closure in a Relationship: Definition, Psychology, Need, How to Ask for it, and Everything Else

Updated on Aug 02, 2023

Reviewed by Katina Tarver, MA (Mental Health and Wellness Counseling) , Life & Relationship Coach

Closure in a Relationship - Definition, Psychology, Need, How to Ask for it, and More

So, you want to know about closure in a relationship.

Then I am guessing you’ve either been left hanging or you have left someone at a crossroads. Well, whatever the case may be, it’s damaging for both sides as it prevents you from moving on.

But don’t worry, you’re not alone. There are so many out there fighting the same battle.

So, stick with me as I tell you how to seek relationship closure, what to do when the post-breakup stage gets ugly for you and everything else.

But before that, let’s first find out…

What is closure in a relationship?

Closure in a Relationship helps to make sense of your breakup and allows you to move on.

Closure is a really popular word in today’s world, all thanks to books and movies. But what really is it? For humans, it’s important to make sense of everything, and closure helps you do just that. It’s the understanding that your relationship has ended for good and that you know the reasons that led to the breakup.

Even if you’re trying to move on in life after a breakup, your mind might still be haunted by thoughts of “why” and “how”. Closure helps you to answer all these questions and keep your mind at peace.

In many cases, people try to achieve closure after a relationship has ended so that they can heal from all the hurt and anger that they were feeling while breaking up. Any lingering emotional issues can be resolved through closure, and both partners can walk away from each other without feeling the need to patch up again.

Of course, you might still be hurting, or you may even have small bursts of feelings for your ex even after you get closure. But the reason why people need closure is that we humans simply can’t survive with half-filled information. We always need to know the entire story.

And yes, it’s quite possible that even the person who proposed a breakup might need closure from their partner!

Need for closure in a relationship

No matter how strong you think you are after a breakup, your mind must be wandering back to the happy times you spent with your partner. But if you’re still unsure about why the relationship ended, these memories can cause immense pain.

So, if by any chance you think you don’t need closure, let me tell you ten important reasons why you should talk about it.

1. You realize you weren’t the one at fault

If your breakup knocked you out of the blue, you may often blame yourself for it. But if you seek closure, you may find out that it was never about you.

This will help you extinguish the fire of self-doubt burning within you and help you move on calmly. Trust me, the hurt is at least ten times better than guilt.

2. Closure helps you to avoid the same mistakes

In contrast with the previous point, let me tell you that there might also have been times when you were the one that made mistakes. And without closure, you’ll never get to know what those mistakes are.

If you stay in the illusion that your partner was the only one at fault and you did nothing, then the mistakes of the past will keep repeating.

But if you sit down and talk to your partner openly about what happened and give them a chance to explain themselves, you’ll see how your mistakes may have affected them too.

3. You can get things off your chest

Another big advantage of attaining closure is that both you and your partner have the opportunity to get things off your chest.

Burdening yourself with resentment and unsaid things can take a toll on you later. So, it’s better to meet and tell each other honestly (but politely) about how each of you felt during the happy and hard times of the relationship.

If you’ve harbored any grievances toward your partner, you can also vent it out. Similarly, you’ll even get to know what your partner went through during the breakup.

4. The relationship ends on good terms

Let’s be honest, even though you might hate your ex after years of breaking up, you still secretly wish that you could at least talk to them and set things right. Don’t worry, you’re not the only one wishing for this!

So many people have said that not attaining closure not only led them to question the relationship throughout their lives but also made them lose out on the chance to stay friends with their ex.

Even if you’re not comfortable with staying friends, it’s always a good idea to maintain a cordial relationship so that whenever you both cross each other’s paths, you don’t walk away with rolled eyes.

5. You realize that you both need to move on

A breakup can trigger so many emotions in you both. Either there are so many negative feelings that you swear never to look at each other’s face… or there’s so much love that you’re unable to move on.

But in so many situations, love isn’t enough, and you and your partner come to the conclusion that it’s best to break up and get on with your lives.

If you find closure, you both might still be finding ways to navigate back to each other.

6. Without closure, you might run back to them

One of the worst feelings that might stay in your mind long after the break-up is the constant reminder of what-ifs.

You may have had thoughts like, “What if I could try and change them for the better?” or “What if they’re my soulmate and I made a mistake leaving them?” after a messy breakup. Well, this is probably because you haven’t attained closure yet.

Once you do, it will help you to understand why you shouldn’t run back to your ex and how if you do, it may simply lead to another disastrous relationship.

7. Or you might wait for them to come back to you

Closure also eliminates the thought that your ex will change their mind and return to you, even if you know that they’re pretty happy after the breakup.

Humans have a tendency of living in denial and hopeless romantics suffer the most because they constantly feel that their ex might regret leaving them and wish to start afresh.

But if you receive the much-needed closure, you will understand that there’s no chance of them coming back to you. And it’s about time you should move on happily.

8. You open yourself up to the possibility of dating

If you keep looking back, you won’t see the amazing things in front of you!

If you don’t get closure, you’ll always have the urge to look back and shut yourself from meeting new people and dating them. And don’t worry, not every other person you meet will turn out to be like your ex.

When you attain closure, it will make you more confident and also allow you to explore people outside of your relationship. Once you get out of your comfort zone (which, in this case, is the urge to not date anymore), you’ll change for the better!

9. You become mentally stronger

Closure also makes you mentally and emotionally stronger. You may not realize it consciously but harboring hopes to get back with your ex or questioning your self-worth will slowly erode your self-confidence.

On the other hand, if you muster up the courage to meet your ex and vent all the suppressed feelings, you’ll be able to move on and find yourself in a much better place.

Even if your partner wants you back or tries playing mind games with you, you know you won’t fall for them anymore.

10. You see the person for who they are

When you’re in a relationship with a toxic person, you’re not able to see who they are. Or even if you do, you make excuses to stay with them. But initiating a conversation after ending the relationship will show you a clear picture of what kind of person your ex really is.

This happens because, after a nasty breakup, your mind suddenly opens up and you start noticing all the small details that you had chosen to ignore previously.

As I’ve already said, gaining closure makes you mentally stronger and coupled with that, when you realize how bad the relationship was, you change for the better.

What is Closure Psychology?

People seek closure simply because it benefits them. It helps you move forward with your life and never look back, and also identify areas where you can improve as a person.

In the absence of closure, there’s a void in your brain which keeps hurting in an attempt to find answers to those questions. To help you understand closure psychology better, let me tell you a story.

Consider a couple where the girl (let’s call her Jane) was head-over-heels for her boyfriend (we’ll name him John) while the boy always seemed to be distant from her.

 One fine day, he initiates a breakup and tells Jane it’s getting too much for him. John stops responding to her frantic calls and texts and tells her the classic line, “It’s not you, it’s me”. Jane is obviously devastated and tries to seek answers to put her mind at ease.

Finally, she talks to him and John tells her that he was unable to juggle work and relationship together. It felt like a constant chore, and he would much rather focus on work than love.

Now Jane knows that it wasn’t her, it was him all along. She realizes she can finally move on and stop double or triple-texting him forever.

So what do we learn from this little story? Jane’s mind before seeking closure was a mess. She wasn’t able to process her emotions and kept blaming herself for the breakup. But when John told her the truth, she was able to get rid of the self-doubt, forgive John and move forward in life.

Similarly, if you wish to get closure yourself, you’re not alone in this journey. According to psychology experts, the need for closure stems from two main reasons- the urgency tendency (which is essentially the urge to find closure as quickly as possible) and the permanence tendency (the urge to hold on to closure for as long as possible).

A mixture of these two basic tendencies can often create a disbalance in the person’s mind that can lead to bias. Biases are, in turn, created when the person picks out the parts of the complete answer that they wish to hear.

It can create an exaggerated image (either positively or negatively) even if the actual answer is vastly different. These answers, although incorrect, help them seek closure and move on.

Again, the intensity with which someone tries to find closure is also related to their personality. For example, dominant or control-seeking people often want closure more than creative and open-minded people.

What to do when you can’t get closure?

No matter how much you want, there might be some instances where you simply won’t be able to receive closure. For example, if your lover has passed away or moved abroad, there is nothing you can do to reach out to them.

So what do you do in such situations? Well, it’s upon you to seek closure in a different form. Here are five effective ways to move on even when you can’t get closure.

1. Start taking care of yourself

Seeking closure doesn’t mean you have to give up on yourself and start getting obsessed about your relationship. All while you’re trying to find closure, make sure to take care of yourself. Eat, drink, and sleep properly. Do things that make you feel calm and happy.

2. Forgive your partner and let go

I know it’s easier said than done, but if you really want peace, you have to, like HAVE TO forgive your partner (especially if they caused you pain). Don’t get hung up on someone who’s not willing to give you closure.

3. Realize that it wasn’t meant to be

One very common reason why people try to seek closure is that they’re not sure if the relationship is truly over or not. If you’re struggling with an on-off relationship and you both finally broke up, it’s time to realize that you both were probably never meant to be.

4. Go out and meet new people

If you keep your mind distracted, it will help you to focus on things other than finding closure or wanting your ex back. For starters, go out, socialize with others, and keep yourself engaged. Who knows, you might also meet someone who’s trying to seek closure on their own just like you!

5. Try therapy

If nothing else works, therapy can be very effective. A licensed therapist will be able to guide you and tell you how to get closure. Alternatively, you can try journaling or going to a support group and interacting with others who are going through the same pain as you.

How to ask for closure in a relationship?

Receiving closure after a relationship ends is important. But in many cases, your partner might not be willing to talk to you or explain themselves. You can’t force closure out of anyone, and you certainly can’t let the topic go if you wish to keep your mind at peace.

But don’t worry, if you’re stuck in a toxic cycle of running after closure but not receiving it, I have some tips for you.

1. Don’t jump right in and ask

Look, there’s no easy way to either give or receive closure. So, the best thing you can do is to strike a conversation with some casual chit chat and take it from there. If your partner doesn’t wish to give you the closure you need, getting straight to the point will only make them more reluctant.

2. Keep things friendly but formal

The next thing you must remember is to be friendly (you don’t want to come across as irritating, right?) but also professional and formal. Don’t let things get heated or talk too much about romantic moments. It’s easy to get carried away and blame each other, but that won’t serve the purpose.

3. Be very honest

If you wish to talk about past issues or the hurt that you’re feeling, it’s best to be honest and upfront. As I said, don’t get agitated but also let them know whatever has been on your mind during and after the relationship. Similarly, urge your ex to open up too.

4. Ask all the questions running through your mind

Once both of you have decided to be honest and direct with each other, it’s time to ask and answer all the burning questions. Neither of you should shy away from this conversation. This will also give you the chance to reflect on where you went wrong and why things didn’t work out.

5. Accept and move on

This is the last (but probably the hardest) stage while gaining closure. After your ex has explained and answered everything, it’s now your turn to thank them and accept that the relationship wasn’t meant to be. Accept your faults too, if any, and work on rectifying them.

How to get closure in a relationship?

Getting closure from a relationship, especially a long-term one, can be tough. You’ll require time and space to get over the past and look forward to the future. To help you through this taxing process, I have a few ways that can help you do that.

1. Remove all evidence of the relationship

Yes, I know what you’re thinking- it’s easy to say things like this but ten times harder to actually do it! But trust me, when you put yourself at a distance from your ex-relationship, you’ll see that you’re truly getting the closure that you needed.

For starters, remove all sorts of evidence of that relationship, no matter how much it hurts to do so. Delete all your pictures together (even from the recycle bin!), donate the clothes they gifted you, and give back all the sentimental gifts that you received from them.

2. Don’t call them or receive their calls

No, you don’t need to be drunk, dial them at three in the morning and tell them how much you miss their hugs.

There’s a solid reason why you both parted ways and you have to respect that reason. Even if you both decide to stay friends, it can help by cutting off contact for a few weeks or months until you’re truly over them.

Try putting their number on your blocklist or delete their contact altogether. Similarly, if they keep calling or texting you, put them straight through voicemail.

3. Embrace the pain

Breakups hurt. And if you really wish to get closure and move on, then you have to acknowledge the pain and negative emotions.

In fact, researchers say that crying is one of the most effective ways to feel better and release all the hurt inside you. After a good crying session, you’re much more likely to feel mentally and emotionally better.

And contrary to what people say, crying doesn’t make you look weak, nor is there a rule that says men aren’t allowed to cry! So embrace the pain, let it all out and then plan on starting afresh.

4. Write a letter

If you’re too afraid to meet your ex and dig up all the old memories, you can write a letter to vent it all out.

It can be a goodbye letter, where you pour your heart out and tell them everything that you were unable to say earlier, or it can be a letter wishing them well on their journey later in life. And you don’t even need to send the letter if your mind changes at the last minute!

The entire activity of writing or texting is to make you feel better and achieve closure in a comfortable manner.

5. Accept that things are over

Acceptance is the best closure. Even though you didn’t want to end this relationship, believe that this is how it is and this is how it’s going to be. It can be tough to digest this news but it’s necessary.

If you keep running after the closure that is impossible to get, you won’t reach anywhere. So instead, focus on healing rather than forcing answers out of your ex-partner.

The relationship didn’t work out for a reason, right? Even if you don’t know it now, trust the universe to find your answers in time.

6. Find something else to do

Get back to your long-lost hobbies and pursue them with all your heart.

You can try learning a new language or meeting a new group of people, you’ll eventually understand that this was the closure you needed- peace of mind. Hobbies are not only great distractions but are also good for your mental health.

All the hurt from breakup, with or without closure, is bound to mess up your head space, and some time off for yourself can help you cope with that.

7. Set boundaries with your ex

This piece of advice will be especially important if you both have planned to stay friends after the breakup or are working together in an organization.

To find closure, you both need to set some boundaries and ground rules for how to talk to each other or how to greet each other… now that you’re not a couple anymore.

This may mean not calling or texting each other for non-work related issues or meeting each other only when your common group of friends has invited both of you. If there’s still a bit of discomfort between you both, you can try to actively avoid each other too.

8. Focus on the immediate future

By this, I mean setting new personal goals that can be completed short term, such as writing all your assignments within the week or mastering the art of baking.

Make a list of goals that are reasonable and start working on them. As soon as you complete one task, tick it off and focus on the next one.

If you’re not able to complete the goal within the time you had allotted yourself, don’t give up; take this as a challenge to better yourself.

9. Do some self-care

When was the last time you went to a spa or took a bubble bath after the breakup? Well, if you haven’t yet, then this is a sign to do it! if you don’t know where to start, make a list!

Next, go to the local store and purchase a few scented candles, sheet masks, or anything else that you might need. A big part of self-care is to pay attention to your body, because only then will your mind feel relaxed.

Eat a healthy breakfast, go for a jog, or simply go to bed after putting on clean sheets!

10. Forgive and forget

Ofcourse, it is easier said than done but forgiving your ex is a good way to get closure. Even if your ex hasn’t actively asked for your forgiveness, concentrate on being the bigger person and don’t hold on to past anger or quarrels.

Forgiveness is an important part of letting go and becoming more mature. If you feel that you’ll need some time to work through this, don’t rush.

Process your emotions and then see how you feel. And once you’ve forgiven them for all the things they did to you, forget about their existence as best as you can.

11. Go on a trip

Let me tell you, trips are therapeutic. If nothing else seems to work out for you, going on a solo trip or traveling to an exotic place with your friends can be just the medicine you need!

Not only will this give you a change of environment but you’ll also get to interact with people of a different kind and learn all about their lives. Even hiking or trekking for a few hours can do wonders for your mind.

If you don’t have enough money or time for a full-blown trip, you can always go somewhere nearby during the weekend!

12. Go to therapy

It can also be useful to go to a professional therapist or counselor and tell them whatever is on your mind. Don’t expect miracles to happen right on the first session, though. Trust me, therapy takes time but is definitely worth it.

You’ll probably find it embarrassing or even shameful to tell your therapist the details of how the relationship turned sour and why you broke up, but remember, that’s exactly why you chose therapy in the first place- to find a safe space and make sense of your emotions.

13. Understand that closure has many forms

So, you might be waiting for your ex to come back to you and explain why the relationship didn’t work out. But that isn’t the only form of closure there is! Believe it or not, closure has many different forms, and each one is equally valid.

For example, one fine day, you might just get to know that they were seeing someone else behind your back the entire time. And this will be your closure- you won’t be expecting it, but you’ll get the answers to all your burning questions soon enough.

You only need to be patient and keep your mind open!

14. Don’t let your ex know you’re thinking of them

If you’re obvious that you’re looking for closure to the point that your ex gets creeped out, you’ll never get it. As I’ve told you already, set some healthy boundaries and make it clear that while you want closure, you’re not going to go out of your way to get it.

For example, don’t keep calling them or asking them to meet you to get your closure. Even they might be struggling with the breakup or trying to find ways to get closure from you!

So, maintain a respectable distance and show them that you’re better off after the breakup.

15. Open up to others

Did you know that the best way of getting closure is the one that suddenly comes to you, without you having to fight for it? And opening up to your friends or family members can do that trick!

Keeping your emotions struggling within you can lead to a lot of repressed trauma later, so make it a point to turn to a trusted friend for help. Ask them what they thought of your relationship and how you can heal.

Maybe their advice or perspectives will be an eye-opener for you and you’ll see that receiving closure is much easier than you thought!

How to give closure in a relationship?

Talk to your partner and tell them why you want out of this relationship, honestly. Don’t say hurtful words or blame them for it.

Maybe you’ve been on the receiving end of a bad breakup, so now you don’t want to hurt your current partner by making them go through the same turmoil that your ex had made you.

So how do you give closure to an unsuspecting partner? Do you simply block them and ghost them out of your life or do you meet them and explain how things aren’t working out? Well, the answer depends on how your relationship has been lately.

If you see that the other person is still crazy about you and wants to keep trying, then ghosting them out of the blue will be cruel. In this situation, talk to your partner and tell them why you want to break up. It will hurt, and the conversation can get ugly but at least they won’t have to keep worrying about whether they did something wrong.

Moreover, even you won’t feel guilty for turning your back on them. But if your partner keeps nagging you or wants to meet you long after you’ve broken up, tell them a final goodbye and remove them from your contacts.

No matter how tempted you might be to simply end things over a simple text, that isn’t the way to handle your relationship. Your partner deserves respect, especially if they have been giving it to you all this while, and not giving them an explanation will only make things worse.

But talking to your partner after a breakup doesn’t have to be immensely hard; you can catch up with them over a cup of coffee and take the conversation from there.

A word from ThePleasantRelationship

How and why you wish to give or receive closure will depend completely on you. It won’t always be easy, and you don’t even need to be friends with your ex if you don’t wish to.

But the important point is to be honest and accept the way things have ended. Most importantly, make it a point to live your life to the fullest even after saying goodbye to your ex!

Are you interested to know more about ‘How to Stop Wanting a Relationship’ then click here?