8 Ways To Get Closure When A Relationship Ends

by The Frisky

ClosureIf anyone ever figured out how to bottle the ability to achieve closure after a relationship ends, they would be rich and famous. As someone who has stumbled in finding closure a few times in my life, all I can say for sure is how it feels. It feels peaceful; it feels freeing, like taking a rock out of your shoe. It is the moment a chapter in the book of your life has been written, read, reread, and filed away for posterity. No matter what the situation, closure is a feeling that comes from within. Sometimes you have the other person there to debrief with and that can be helpful, like when I met up with an ex-boyfriend to compare notes on our relationship. It was an incredibly therapeutic experience that helped me close the door on the relationship once and for all. But let’s be honest, it hardly ever happens like that … Most of the time, we are struggling alone. Whether it’s because the other person(s) is dead, unavailable, toxic, crazy, or just an ass who we’ve decided doesn’t deserve to be in our life anymore, it’s not always possible to involve them in the closure process. So if we can’t have their input/thoughts/feelings/apologies, but we still need closure, how to proceed? Here are some tips for getting closure when you have to go at it alone. Share your suggestions in the comments.

  1. The un-sent letter. I dated a guy who suddenly stopped talking to me without any rhyme, reason, or warning. I later realized this was because he was an addict, but at the time, it was devastating. I knew I could and never would speak to him again. But I still had so much pain and anger pent-up inside. I sat down at my desk and proceeded to write an epic letter telling him exactly what I thought of him. I wrote until there were no more words. Then I folded that sucker up, put it in an envelope, and locked it away in a drawer. It helped me let go just a little bit.
  2. Write it. Write a book about the demise of your relationship, sell it for a six-figure advance, and then have it turned into a show on HBO starring someone exceedingly attractive. But seriously, even if you’re not a professional writer, write it anyway. A play, screenplay, short story, or poem can help you gain perspective on a situation, or even give you an opportunity to write a different ending. It’s OK if you’re the only one who ever reads it. It’s worth it.
  3. Weird-ass rituals. As a person who considers myself “spiritually eclectic” (I’ll explain some other time), I love performing weird-ass rituals that mean something only to me. I highly recommend printing out all the emails that the person ever sent you, lighting them on fire, and burying the ashes under your favorite tree. Or make up your own random ritual that is simpatico with your religious or spiritual beliefs. The point is to try to lay the past to rest.
  4. Art. Art! Art! Art! Paint it, collage it, photograph it. Make art about it. I have an entire sketchbook of awful collages and watercolor paintings that got me through college. No one will EVER see them, but I don’t care. If you are gifted in this way, I’m jealous!
  5. Reflection. Ruminate on both the good and the bad of the relationship, so that you don’t: A) totally idealize it or B) reactively hate the person. The more clarity you have on a situation, the easier it will be to sort out your feelings and gain insight about the situation. This may even be helpful to do with a counselor or therapist or a good friend. If you’re a list person, a good old-fashioned pro-and-con should do the trick. Every time I break up with a dude or a friend, I write a list of all of the things I didn’t like about them and all of the things I learned about myself. Then I can refer to it in the future if need be.
  6. Reclaiming. Take the memories back! That Italian restaurant you both loved, your favorite dive bar or music venue, the bench you sat on to watch the sunset — do all the things you loved doing together on your own. Make new memories dammit … alone!
  7. Change of scenery. Sometimes the best way to get a fresh perspective on a life situation is to get away for a while. Go on a retreat/vacation, move to a new neighborhood, or just redecorate. Get out of your bubble. When your environment changes so does your state of mind. New states of mind are conducive to change.
  8. Forgiveness. This is so easy to say and so hard to do. Closure requires forgiveness either of yourself or others. Forgiveness takes time. And time is really the only way to heal from a major loss in your life. Unfortunately, time is something we have no control over. Yeah, that kind of sucks, but be patient with and kind to yourself. You never know when forgiveness will happen or exactly how long it will take, but sometimes you just wake up one day and that stupid rock has miraculously fallen out of your shoe. You may not know why or how, but it did. That is the moment that you’re ready to walk on. Only more comfortably.

This post originally appeared on The Frisky. Republished with permission.


  • http://defendingmoney.wordpress.com Marketing Gimmicks

    I had a really painful breakup with a borderline narcissist and it took at least two years before I felt some sense of normalcy again. The relationship was very emotionally and physically abusive and writing letters and getting my feelings have definitely helped in the healing process.

    I’d like to add a quality therapist. Not enough of our sisters manage their negative feelings in positive ways. Many of us are quite disrespectful to our own feelings. We repress, swallow, numb and live in extreme denial about our pain and that repression shows up in our mindset, our bodies, and our attitudes towards life. We are always wanting to wear our strong face even when our souls are tortured, sad, disappointed, frustrated and lonely.

    Seeing a therapist allowed me to have a safe emotional haven of vulnerability something that all women need; especially when a relationship doesn’t work out.

  • Ash

    Great article! Here’s what I do.

    1. Delete their number, unfriend them, etc: Facebook stalking your ex is unhealthy.

    2. I change my hair. Not anything drastic. Maybe just a deep condition and a trim. Perhaps a bit of color? As a poor grad student, this is cheap and always makes me feel better (as well as looking better).

    3. After a certain point, tell your friends to not mention your ex and to reprimand you if you bring him up. Talk about something other than men.

    4. Get out of the house! I tend to mope around in my PJs when a relationship ends. Its okay to do that for a bit but eventually I like to get dressed up and take myself out for dinner/drinks/movie.

    5. Realize that you’ll bounce back.

  • Pingback: 8 Ways To Get Closure When A Relationship Ends | Clutch Magazine | Affair In Love

  • Mustang Sally

    He was one of those guys that ‘knew’ he was THE best thing since sliced bread. I thought it was great confidence. WRONG. I should have run the other way when I was told he was bad news. Thank goodness, I have sisters’ and sorors’ that were there and stuck through it (long-sufferance) until I realized for myself what kind of kaka this boy was.

    My Closure Methods (in no particular order):

    1. I did everything he said I couldn’t or wouldn’t do without him being in my life.
    – I completed my degree
    – I am currently working on my Master’s
    – Turned my passion into a paying business

    2. I stayed away from ‘our spots’ and discovered/created my own spots/memories in other places.

    3. Ash’s #3. I’m not going to lie, the bashing session was great when I hated him and was hurting. BUT NOW…ain’t nobody got time fa dat. There are many more important conversations have.

    4. Burned all that $#!+ that made me a ‘kept’ woman. Those were just reminders of the ‘forgiveness’ I gave every time he did me wrong or hurt me.

    “You’ll never find somebody to love you like I do” <==== that was the only thing I couldn't or wouldn't do. I must admit that the fool was right…BECAUSE I DID BETTER!!! Yes Lord! *two snaps out the window*

  • Ash


  • http://lorrikey.com LorriK

    These are all great ways to heal and get closure. I recommend therapy always because we all have girlfriends who love our men when we love em, then turn and hate em when we hate em making it hard to know what responsibility we held in the demise of the relationship.

    I will admit it is hard as hell to go the restaurants and places we spent time together. I took a pass on that one and avoided his side of town all together. But whatever works!

  • http://www.poshmiss.com Posh Miss

    Breaking up is hard, but the biggest problem is hiding that it is hard. The quicker we are honest and deal with our emotions honestly, the quicker the healing can take place. When you try to pretend like everything is okay, it is like shaking a soda up and whomever opens it will get completely covered in something they were not expecting. So when you hide your emotions the next person can be a victim of an explosion of your emotions because you did not deal with it accurately.

    This is a post from one of the young women who use to blog for me. She emailed me one day with this and I told her that we should post it.


  • http://gravatar.com/jamesfrmphilly jamesfrmphilly

    she left out small arms fire….

  • Marisa

    I’ve had only one bad dating experience and none of these were something that worked for me was laying around like third base catatonic. That change of scenery doesn’t work because wherever you go there you are lol, which means no point in running from something you will have to face anyway. Second forgiveness don’t think so making a mistake is one thing purposely screwing me over you want forgiveness better call 1-800-Jesus or the Pope because its not coming from me. Art is out as I have zero artistic abilities couldn’t even color in the lines as a child. It helps to have other priorities such as work and/or school/family, it was work that got me over it.

    As the few laying around only lasted for a bit because I had a job and on top of that school responsibilities is the greatest cure for heartbreak. I don’t have time to be in grief over this loser forever ever forever ever forever ever this job isn’t going to get done on its on and these exams aren’t going to pass themselves. My ways aren’t for everybody but, I am always interested to see the perspective of others and how their coping mechanisms.

  • DownSouth Transplant

    She did encompass all the feelings we need to have about oneself beautifully, that was a good read!!

  • http://gravatar.com/lovegiraffes onegirl

    @Posh Miss,
    That poem was great, and so true for all of us. The last line says it all. Thanks for posting.

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