Earlier today, I was talking to one of my closest male friends about some closure that he got with a particular woman in his life. She was someone he had met online and, although they were digging each other, she actually liked him more than he liked her. "Liked" in the sense that she wanted to move forward with the potential of it turning into something more serious and lasting, while my friend was fine leaving things casual. When he told me that she called him to let him know that she had met someone else who was on the same page with her and so she thought it would be best that she and my friend cool things off out of respect for what she was building with someone else, I appreciated my friend's response. He said, "Man, that made me respect her so much because a lot of women play games out here. She was direct, it was a 'clean close' and that makes me open to always staying in touch, no matter what."
What stood out to me about what he said was the term "clean close". I like how that phrase sounds because, at the end of the day, that's what I think closure should be about. At the end of the day, it's about two people getting the clarity that they need, so that they both can move forward with as much peace—especially internal peace—as possible. Because when there is peace, there is healing and when there is healing, you can get on with your life in a holistically healthy way.
Although I know that closure typically comes up as it relates to romantic relationships, I can tell you from very up close and personal experience that it can benefit you to get closure from any type of relational dynamic that has affected you to the point where not making peace could hold you back on some level. I've needed to get closure with friends, co-workers and even certain clients before. If you can relate and you'd like to know how I did it, it was by asking myself the following six questions — then not letting up (on myself) until I got the answers.
1. What Caused “the Break-Up” in the First Place?
There was someone in my life who had been in my world for years. She had also been taking advantage of me for all of that time. I kept trying to make excuses for her until we hit the final straw. You never know who reads this platform so, in this particular case, I'll leave the details out, simply because they are super specific. What I will say is it was so passively-aggressively-disrespectful that it definitely brought us to the point of no return — not that I couldn't forgive her mind you (I don't think anyone deserves so much power that they can't be pardoned and released); just that we could never go back to the way things were…in hindsight, whatever that was.
And why bring up something if I'm just gonna be vague? Because the point here is, although we never had an official closure conversation, what did happen is I let her know that I wasn't thrilled with the state of our relationship and her random check-ins as if everything was fine, even though I said it wasn't, weren't going to work anymore. I never heard from her following that. One time I did run into her and we had casual conversation (I'm not gonna fight someone in a store…LOL). Yet the fact that she wasn't like, "Hey. What's going on with us?" let me know that she never really valued the friendship in the first place — because again, I had alerted her, more than once, that we weren't good (by the way, the reason why I didn't bring up the particulars is because, as a friend, I was trying to give her some space to work through some other issues that I knew she had going on at the time) and she did…nothing. A couple of years later…still nothing.
You know, I once heard someone say that some people will stop speaking to you, simply because they don't want to give you the apology that you are owed. Lawd, lawd. In this particular instance, there was no need to get closure because I'm actually more at peace with no longer participating in a relationship that was so disrespectful to me, my needs and my feelings.
So yep, if there is someone who you feel like you need to get closure with, first reflect on how the two of you got to where you are to begin with. Would a conversation actually hurt or help? Not so much them (because they have to figure that out on their own) — you.
2. Is There Anything Left That Needs to Be Said? If So, Why?
Some things literally kind of fade to black. There's no real fall out, devastation or drama. You just look up and daily interaction turns into weekly…then monthly…then annual ones. To be honest with you, if you're nodding your head while reading this point, the person you're thinking about probably isn't a significant other, close friend or anything serious. It's just someone you were cool with. For those kinds of situations, what's left to say? No biggie, right?
Then there are those like a luncheon that I went on, not too long ago. A guy, who I've known for a long time and have had a very unique dynamic with, took me out to share some big decisions that he's about to make. It was closure in a way because the new phases that he's about to enter into means that we don't need to be as close as we once were, for either of our sakes. And so, we both needed to discuss how our relationship influenced both of us to get to where we are and what our expectations would be moving forward. Had we not had that conversation and I had gotten blindsided with his news or one or both of us made assumptions about what our dynamic needed to be like in the future, it could've turned into a hot ass mess. Neither of us wanted that.
So yeah, that's my next suggestion. When it comes to desiring closure, oftentimes it's because one or both people either need clarity or want to get some additional things off of their chest — so that there is no drama, confusion or resentment in the days, weeks or even months up the road.
Now, what I will say about this particular point is some folks don't want closure. They just want to find a way to keep someone else in something that they no longer want to be in. Because of that, they will keep trying to have conversations to rehearse the same points over and over again. That is not what I'm talking about here. What I mean is, if you're genuinely clueless on a matter and/or you feel like if you keep suppressing something and you know that ignoring it is going to affect/infect you later on, those are the things that do need to be expressed. Because things that are left unsaid can mentally and emotionally alter us, if we're not careful.
3. At This Stage in Your Life, Do You NEED or Just MISS the Relationship?
Back when I went on my "get your heart pieces back" tour (check out "Why Every Woman Should Go On A 'Get Your Heart Pieces Back' Tour") in (wow) 2015, there was one guy in particular who, I won't lie — it felt good to reconnect with. That's because we've always had a very special connection (didn't hurt that he's fine as all get out and our past sex life was completely off of the charts as well). Even within that first eight-hour discussion in over, shoot, 15 years, while there was still a strong chemistry between us, it was evident that a lot of life had happened since we last spoke. After several weeks, I sent him an email and basically said, "It was good to reconnect. It's good that we can be peaceful in each other's presence. And it's good to really let it all go." I haven't heard from or spoken to him since.
Back when he earned the title in my life of "the one who got away", there was always a part of me who felt like I needed to find him and keep him around…because I needed him. After getting the closure that I was longing for (I kinda think he needed to do it as well because there was a lot that he got off of his chest that I did not know as far as how he processed me and our journey), I realized that I missed him more than needed it.
Another good example of this is, I recently watched a rerun of A Different World where Whitley's ex Julian came into town. He took her to an expensive restaurant to tell her that he was engaged to someone else. Dwayne wasn't thrilled about her going. Whitley was jealous that Julian had moved on for a moment (even though she was the one who had broken up with him). And then, something dawned on her — although Whitley was a pretty materialistic person and was somewhat envious of the life that Julian's fiancée, Shelby was about to have, Whitley didn't need Julian anymore. She just missed certain aspects of the relationship.
Let's look at this from a professional angle. I once worked with a non-profit that paid fairly well, allowed me to travel and definitely provided a platform for me to share my gifts and abilities. Still, there were some things about how I was overlooked and underestimated, time and time again (race played a big part in it), that caused me to resign. Because I was a part of the organization for so long, sometimes I'm asked if I feel like I made the wrong decision. While there are certain things about the gig that I miss, I don't need it anymore. Once you realize that you are being short-changed and you stay anyway? You are letting people know that you are OK with being disrespected. That's not good.
That's why, on the topic of closure, another thing that I recommend you do is ask yourself if you feel like you need what someone once brought into your life still or are you simply missing certain aspects of it. If it's Door A, you probably need to have a conversation. If it's Door B, all chatting is going to do is keep you in that emotional space. Give time the chance to let you miss someone less and less. Until you wake up one day and realize that "missing" is all it was — no more. No less.
4. Is Constantly Mulling over Things Keeping You Stagnant?
Ready to put your big girl panties on? A harsh reality in life is there are gonna be some times when you don't get the closure that you're looking for, even if, on some level, you absolutely do deserve it. Sometimes your boss won't want to discuss why they didn't promote you. Sometimes a person you're dating (or even a friend) may ghost you. A lot of us have been completely abandoned before without much of an explanation at all. And while it's totally human and understandable to want to know why things went down the way that they did, the reality is, if folks were more respectful of others' feelings, there probably wouldn't be much of a need for this kind of article, right?
Whether you're an overthinker, a semi-control freak or merely someone who expects people to always treat you like you treat them, there's a pretty good chance that if you didn't get the closure that you longed for — and quite possibly may even deserve — you will find yourself in a hamster wheel of questions that can really keep you from making any personal progress.
So, what's the hack to break out of feeling trapped by a lack of closure? Accept that if someone really cared about you and honored what you brought to their life — whether it was personally or professionally — they would want to make sure that things were as clear as possible so that, again, there was mutual peace. And if someone doesn't feel this way about you, you've actually got your closure because there's nothing else that needs to be said. It's time to release it and put steps towards really moving on.
As a marriage life coach, there are some people who are very much so stuck in their divorce. They keep talking about what their former spouse should have done instead of accepting what they did (or didn't do). And it's got them so befuddled and or hurt and or bitter that you would think the divorce happened two days ago when sometimes, it's been years.
I wrote about a time when a close friend ghosted me. After almost two years of nothing, I wrote her. She was so patronizing and flippant that I had nothing else to question after her response. Yet you know what? Real talk? Because she had ghosted me and was apparently fine with that, we didn't really have anything to discuss anyway. I needed to quit pondering/overthinking so much so that I could get on with my life — and that included the people who cared about me in the present.
Going over things, over and over again, aren't going to change the facts. If you are so consumed with getting closure that it's preventing you from getting out of the past, embracing the people in your present and making plans for your future, a lack of closure isn't your problem. Choosing to allow it to hold you back is.
5. Will Closure Finally CLOSE “It”?
Now there's another side of closure that we need to broach; a side that doesn't get explored a lot and, if you're not careful, can end up giving you a lot more than what you ever bargained for. Suppose the closure that you're seeking has to do with a relationship or situationship from your past? One that has been so long ago, there isn't really much that needs to be said — you're just wondering about where the person is and what could have been. Chile, be careful of those. Thanks — or perhaps "no thanks" — to social media, sometimes our curiosity can get the better — or is it worse? — of us which can result in us looking for people, all in the name of so-called closure, that can end up opening things up all over again…when they shouldn't be.
Back to A Different World. The real fans know that "seeking closure" is what got Dwayne and Whitley to have sex, months after breaking up, and while she was seeing someone else. All it did was further complicate things between them. In real life, I've got a friend who, while married, had some questions for an ex — all it ultimately did was create an emotional affair and damn near a Lifetime-esque movie because while her ex was more than willing to reconnect, what he didn't tell her is he was engaged to someone else.
Moral to the story? Closure is supposed to close things. Some people manipulate the word in order to reconnect or reignite something. If what you want is another chance or if you're just being nosey — say that. Because if it's been quite some time, you've honestly been fine in your world and yet you're simply wanting to scratch some sort of itch — ask Whitley and my friend…sometimes you end up getting way more than what you've bargained for. In other words, sometimes your closure needs to come in the form of exhibiting self-control; the kind that will remind you to just leave well enough — alone.
6. Can You Get That Not Receiving Closure Is a Form of Closure?
Closure is about bringing something to an end. Closure is about shutting a door. Closure is about finding a conclusion. That said, while I know that some folks think that ghosting is an OK way to handle a relationship, I absolutely could not disagree more. I don't see what is respectful, mature or non-cowardly about taking that approach. After all, when a relationship — any kind of relationship — has ran its course, there's no way around the fact that since "it" started with two people, it should end with those two same people. Both need to get the questions, comments and concerns that they may have off of their chest. And so, if both folks have any kind of respect for what was once shared, closure should be a given.
That said, there are some people in this world who couldn't care less about handling things honorably. They have no kind of compassion, empathy or even basic-level decency to want to make sure that things end clean. And while you very well may deserve the closure that you seek, they may never give it to you. That sucks. That can be painful. And you know what? More times than not, it's such a high form of intentional disrespect that you honestly have the ending, shut door and conclusion that you need anyway because if they think so little of you and the relationship…what is there really to talk about? Their silence is their statement. And it's ringing loud and clear.
What you need to do is accept it and then take steps to heal (check out "Why You Need To Grieve Your Past Relationship" and "How To Heal From A Broken Friendship"). If that includes seeing a reputable coach, counselor or therapist, so be it.
I know. This was a long read. Yet since closure continues to be a hot-and-not-thoroughly-addressed topic for so many, I hope this all gave you a little more clarity if you need to "close some things" with someone. Because take it from me — it can be really difficult to start something new with someone unless you've ended things with someone else. Amen? Hallelujah, chile.
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