When a relationship ends, people often find comfort in closure. However, we can harbor feelings of anger, pain, and sadness instead of peacefully coming to terms with what has happened. Sometimes, you’re able to negotiate that closure with your partner. Other times, you don’t get that chance, and have to find closure within your heart and mind. Here are helpful tips to guide you through both of these tough situations:
Finding closure with a partner
Communicate honestly: To make any change, you’ll have to be honest with your partner and tell them, face-to-face, exactly how you feel and why you think things are not working. Remind each other of the positive parts of your relationship.
Don’t place blame: Be careful to express your emotions in a way that you’re not blaming one another for pain in the relationship. Keep your conversation focused and calm. If not, you could regret something you said down the road.
Search for “mutual benefit”: Dr. Jeremy Nicholson, a social and personality psychologist, says, “Even in a breakup, relationships are still a social exchange, and there is still the possibility of mutual benefit. Therefore, at the end of a relationship, it is still important to focus on where you can meet both your needs and those of your partner.”
Finding closure within yourself*
Grieve: Ending a relationship is a loss. You need time to be sad and feel the pain before you move on. Dr. Abigail Brenner, a psychiatrist, says “Prolonged or incomplete grief may contribute to making poor choices in the future. The ability to trust, to be honest, and to be yourself is essential for a new, healthier relationship or situation to present itself to you.”
Acknowledge and accept what’s happened: Have a conversation with yourself–ask what you are holding on to, and why? Is this pain consuming you and preventing you from accomplishing what you want in life? What do you think will happen if you move on and let go? These are the kinds of questions that clear our minds and motivate us to find something better down the road.
Make a game plan: Write down what’s most important for you to do right now. Staying organized in this visual way will help as you pave your path into the future. Dr. Brenner suggests, “Shift the emphasis to what you need, what makes you happy. Don’t worry about pleasing others.”
*Some of these steps need to happen even if you are finding closure with your partner