Closure Is Overrated

Each product we feature has been independently selected and reviewed by our editorial team. If you make a purchase using the links included, we may earn commission.

I was listening to my favorite morning gab-show on my commute to work the other day.  They were hosting a funny call-in segment about awkward “closure” moments, where what callers thought was the reason for a breakup turned out to be completely wrong (and ideally comical).

This got me thinking about the whole concept of closure, which is something I have always had issues with.  Wikipedia defines closure as “The desire or need individuals have for information that will allow them to conclude an issue that had previously been clouded in ambiguity and uncertainty.”

In other words, closure is the need to “complete the circle” and tie up all loose strings in order to put whatever issue it is to bed and move on with their lives.

We are familiar with the concept of closure primarily when it comes to relationships, specifically when a relationship ends. There are two things that I disagree with concerning closure that I wanted to share with you briefly.

First: Closure doesn’t exist.  We live in a world of uncertainty.  Yet, we are creatures who desperately need structure and order to survive.  We fill our lives with work, Pilates, happy hours, or whatever gives us a structure and makes us feel busy, because the vast majority of us don’t know how to handle the uncertainty that comes from the unknown.

Therefore, the need for closure is natural, but totally illogical.  Things are never really closed; there will always be an unknown quantity that exists, and there is always risk that something won’t work out as you planned.  This is especially true for breakups.  The natural desire to be totally and completely honest following a break up tends to zero.  Most of us probably hide or bend the truth when confronted by an ex; to protect their emotions, to avoid conflict, or to “come out clean”.

Secondly:  Closure has nothing to do with anyone but yourself.  Frequently, after a breakup, we turn toward our exes in order to understand what happened and better comprehend the process that led to the demise of the relationship.  But this is rarely and adequate solution, and frequently leaves more questions than answers. Closure, meaning the ability to move on after a significant period in your life ends, is an individual process and no former boyfriend/girlfriend can help you with this.

Processing and internalizing, and ultimately overcoming, something as traumatic as a breakup is an individual experience.  It is a journey that must be traversed alone and it is incorrect to assume that an ex – effectively the source of the trauma – can help with the process.

In short, when trying to get closure after a breakup, it is important to remember two things.  First, things will never be truly “closed”, and the best we can hope for is acceptance of reality.  Secondly, if you want help overcoming the trauma of a breakup, turn towards good friends or family.  Looking for answers from an ex will only lead you down an ugly road of self-doubt and ambiguity.


Featured image via the National Weather Service

Filed Under