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Why do we seek closure in relationships?

Humans tend to communicate with stories, we build narratives in our minds and these narratives help us make sense of events around us. After going through a stressful situation, like a painful break-up, we try to reason with it and make sense of why the relationship failed. We may make a narrative where we finally recognize and acknowledge the red flags in the relationship, maybe we view it as a learning experience, and maybe we view it as a complete failure. But what happens when we are not able to come up with a narrative? We are willing to endure a great deal of hurt, pain, and suffering if in return we are promised a narrative that would make sense to us. When we are not given that reason, we seek out closure. We seek to find the meaning and reason behind our experiences until we are satisfied with them.

What makes the narrative so important? Why do we endure so much just to tell a story? One of the reasons is that our brain needs an authentic narrative to make sense of what happened. Closure helps us solve the puzzle giving us a sense of accomplishment and/or satisfaction. This of course negates the fact that we went through a lot of trouble to actually achieve that sense of closure. A closure may pave the way for healthier relationships in the future. But do we really need this closure? Does it really make us feel better?

Like time suspended,

a wound unmended--

you and I.

We had no ending,

no said goodbye;

For all my life,

I'll wonder why.”

― Lang Leav, Love & Misadventure

In the end, what is important is we take responsibility for our own actions, and what closure are we seeking? Is it something only the other person can provide or is closure also the acceptance and healing from our experience. Time does heal all wounds after all, so is that closure? Fundamentally, you are capable of moving forward by accepting our responsibility and making interpretations of others’ actions the best we can.

If we do, how do we go about achieving it?

We are bound to make impulsive decisions when we are experiencing emotions of high intensity, but it is important to practice healthy boundaries. This means stopping yourself from stalking your ex-partner on social media, and contacting them when it is not appropriate to do so. Even though we are able to get a response from them, How do we trust it to be authentic? This is where acceptance of some level of ambiguity is important. In the end, it is we, ourselves who are responsible for obtaining that closure.

It’s important to take responsibility for your actions, and ask yourself, what closure are you seeking, and is it only something the other person can provide? Because in reality, you are truly capable of moving forward without that dependency.

“Do you really need the person to tell you that they hurt you, or what the relationship was like, or what happened was beautiful, or acknowledge in any way? It is a good thing to hear, sure, but do you not already know how you felt it, and how much you are hurt? Do you need them to tell you what it was to give you permission to feel it?

You think you need it but maybe you might want it. Because you believe that your relief is going to come when they acknowledge what had happened or what you’re going through. And even if they do, you think the pain will go away but it doesn’t, you still need to heal the pain. “

- Najwa Zebian

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