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How To Find Closure When a Relationship Ends Suddenly – 5 Must-Know Insights Shared Inside

How To Find Closure When a Relationship Ends Suddenly – 5 Must-Know Insights Shared Inside

by Randi Gunther – PhD, Becky Bringewatt – MA, LPC, NCC, Barbara Williams – LPC, MS, Amy Sherman – M.A., LMHC, Sally LeBoy – MFT

How To Find Closure When a Relationship Ends Suddenly

“You can love them, forgive them, want good things for them… but still move on without them.”

~ Mandy Hale

You Can Love Them Forgive Them Want Good Things Mandy Hale Quote
Becky Bringewatt

Closure is important because it allows us to make sense of events that happened and allows us to attach names and emotions to what occurred. 

This especially important when it comes to the end of a relationship. We need to know how to move on and what the causes were that ended the relationship or what we still need to work on. But when someone disappears or suddenly just ends it, we don’t get that opportunity. 

So how do you move on?

1. Remember that closure is about you and what you need

If the other person is truly not available for any reason, you don’t need to include them. You can make decisions about what happened and why and how it happened from your own perspective, and that is enough.

2. Someone leaving suddenly and not giving you a chance to complete things well or even say goodbye says nothing about you

You can’t change another person’s actions, and this kind of action is either something that could not be prevented or the act of a coward, which says nothing about you. Don’t take that responsibility on because it isn’t yours.

3. Remember that just because one relationship ended this way doesn’t mean others will

Don’t globalize one experience and make yourself fearful of having future relationships because of it. Every relationship is its own special experience, allow it to be so.

4. If you’ve been abandoned in relationships, you may be triggered by this happening again

Work through this with a trusted professional who can help you explore the very real and very painful feelings of abandonment and rejection you have from these events. You deserve to do that for yourself.

5. Dig deeply and figure out why this is so important to you and what is bothering you the most about it

Then find a way to heal that in your life so you can keep that energy from defining your needs and expectations in relationships.

6. Write or do art about it

Allow yourself to be creative to with this very powerful learning that you have in front of you. Just because it is painful and uncomfortable doesn’t mean it can’t also be useful!

You can move forward in a healthy way into your new relationships. Good luck!

Becky Bringewatt, MA, LPC, NCC – www.mantiscounselingandcoaching.com

Sally LeBoy

I think a mistake that people make when wanting closure is looking for it externally. 

If someone has hurt you, it’s human to want to understand why. There are some problems with this. 

First, it presupposes that this man understands himself well enough to give you a useful answer. 

Almost certainly, you will be blamed in some way. A mature person starts communicating as soon as he perceives a problem in the relationship. If there is communication, you will understand if he makes the ultimate decision to leave. It may still hurt, but you won’t be blindsided.

With an external explanation, you get his subjective experience. 

This may not coincide at all with your experience. You will still be left with the task of putting the relationship to bed in a way that makes sense to you.

I think that ultimately getting closure is an internal process. 

Your feelings of anger, hurt, betrayal and loss will have to be processed. But closure is about making sense of it and that task lies with you. Analyzing the relationship and the reason for its ending (and beginning) is probably a very useful process. You will probably learn something about yourself or your choice of men that will help you going forward.

Life in general is a very subjective process. 

When we are young we rely on our parents and other adults to help us make sense of our world, including relationships. As we get older we have to take on that task ourselves. 

While we might think that getting closure through a conversation with our ex will be helpful, it’s really more likely to be frustrating. 

He may tell you his reasons, but that doesn’t mean he’s presenting you with an accurate description of what happened. I think real closure comes when we make our own sense out of a relationship. 

It may not be objectively more factual but it will certainly reflect your own experience rather than someone else’s. 

That process gives you a chance to learn something useful about yourself, your life choices and how you manage yourself in relationships.

Sally LeBoy, MFT – www.sallyleboymft.com

Barbara Ann Williams

If you were in a relationship that seemed to have ended suddenly and left you with no clue as to what happened, stop for a moment and feel your feelings. I’m sorry for the pain this loss is or may have caused you. 

You may not be able to get the “closure” you’re looking for, such as answers to what really happened and the “why’s” to all the other questions you may have; but you can decide how you choose to let it impact your life, and moving forward.

Considering you were a great catch, the loss is really his, not yours; he did you a favor. 

If you can look at what happened as a gift to you before you got too deep for return, this would help you get through the pain of not having closure and feeling stuck and unable to move forward, to help you seal the deal your own self.

First, let’s take a look at the last time you had a good, positive, and healthy conversation

  • How did you leave that conversation feeling? I mean, deep down, how did you feel? 
  • Was anything missing, broken, unspoken, or not communicated that you wish could have been shared? 
  • Were you complete in the relationship? 
  • Was anything lacking for you? 

In looking back and taking an honest look at these questions, you might be able to see he had the courage to do what you did not; leave. Do you now wish you had left before he did? 

If you do, see the gift for what it is. Since he left, he had his own reasons, something was not working for him, and he took care of his own needs in the best way he thought could serve him best. Even if you think it could have been done differently, honor and respect what is; nothing more, nothing less.

Second, has this happened before? 

If it has, what are some common lessons learned? If it is a first experience, there is still something there for you to gain some wisdom from to help you in your next relationship.

The purpose of a relationship is for our own personal gain and benefit. 

Sometimes we get the lesson; sometimes it needs to be repeated to really get it. If you are stuck on not finding any lesson, or looking at everything as having been great, then perhaps you were in a relationship by yourself.

And third, if you don’t like this story, create one you do like

After all, this is your life. Self-blame will not change anything. Take time out to reflect on what was, what is, and what you want it to be, and create that. You can do this. I know that, because you’re here. Here’s wishing you the best.

Barbara Ann Williams, LPC, MS – www.barbaraannwilliams.com

Randi Gunther

When people grew up in close communities, they most often not only knew their neighbors but most of the whereabouts of anyone they were close to or knew of. 

They also did most of their communicating in person or by telephone and could trust others to get messages to others when they could not. It was pretty hard to have an intimate relationship with someone without many others aware and apprised of its development.

That description may sound to most daters today like some kind of antiquated era in human connection. Relationship seekers today, significantly relying on the Internet for meeting and maintaining contact with potential partners, rarely are accountable to extended families that are often not in close proximity. 

It is quite feasible that people can get into passionate, intense, and heavily involved with intimate partners that can disappear into cyberspace without a trace. They even have a new word for it, “ghosting,” a connotation that is not only eerie but defines a flesh-and-blood person who simply ceases to exist in real time.

It is arguable that people who are authentic, honest, and up front in a relationship would never leave a partner without prior notification that things were not working out, or at least, an attempt to works things out before leaving the relationship. Sadly, that is not always true. 

Because of the ease of connection accompanied by a too easy way to disconnect without explanation, some intimate partners to essentially just disappear, leaving their still-attached others in confusion and despair.

It would be easier, many tell me, if the person had died still loving them. 

Physical death is “grievable.” 

Disappearance without explanation or understanding leaves the person behind unable to come to grips with what happened, who was wrong, why there wasn’t any warning, and how foolish they feel for having not seeing it coming. 

Add that to the understandable pure grief of loss, and that person can go under for a long time.

  • “I could do so much better if I just understood.” 
  • “I thought we were closer than that.” 
  • “Did I just not pay attention to what she was trying to tell me?” 
  • “I knew that he had that pattern before, and we talked about it, but I just thought we were different.” 
  • “Why the blackout? I’ve never stalked anyone before in my life, and I’m not going to do it now?” 
  • “If I don’t find out what happened, I’ll never know what I did wrong. It’s driving me crazy.” 
  • “I’d even understand if she hooked up with her old boyfriend, but not to just let me know, it seems like I never knew her.” 
  • “I really thought he was the “one.” 
  • He told me this was different and real for him. I just don’t get it.”

What I so often hear in my office is confusion, betrayal, and shock. 

Those are normal initial responses. But, as we work in therapy, the “tap roots” emerge, those byways that take people deeper. Abandonment from childhood, unexpected losses from past relationships anticipated or not, insecurities that might never have been there before, disillusionment in believing that trust can ever be real again, and immobilization to take another chance.

Of course, those reasonable responses emerge from each individual’s past experiences and capacity for resilience everywhere in his or her life. 

How much honest communication in the present and about the past had occurred in the relationship up till the point of the desertion? 

Patterns are often repeated if they are authentically shared, but too many people, fearful they will lose a relationship if they share the truth, have withheld those experiences from their current partners.

The partner left behind must also look at his or her past relationships. 

If these kinds of unexpected disconnects are repeated patterns, he or she must look at why the experiences of both people in those relationships were not similar. 

There are people who fantasize a relationship that is not real, out of wishful thinking that they can make it so in some magical way if they just create it in their minds. 

They do not check in regularly to see if the other partner is on the same page. 

For instance, was this relationship too soon after a prior break-up and the person is just looking for a way to assuage grief by diverting into a rebound, only to re-connect with that prior partner when the opportunity presents itself?

Concurrently, what about the person who disappeared? 

Was there a clear picture of past relationships ending without a trace and why? If someone gets connected with a hit-and-run person and thinks this time it will be different, the participation may be doomed from the beginning or just enjoyed for what it brings in the moment. (See my article on Psychology Today Blogs on “Touch and Go Relationships – Do they have to be Superficial?”)

Whichever is the case for you personally, closure may never come. 

That is the hardest part. You can only look so deeply into your own patterns and those of the “ghost” to try to understand what happened, emotionally blindfolded. 

Many people contact every person who knew the prior lover, drive by his or her house, hack into emails and texts, follow them relentlessly on Facebook, and spend endless hours going over every detail, searching for clues that might ease the anguish.

Unfortunately, life has a way of happening while we are busy not noticing it is passing us by. 

When people have asked me what the most important quality of a human being is, I always answer, “the ability to love again deeply after loss.” It is not an easy ideal, but one well worth working towards.

If you are suffering from the inability to move on because you are still caught up in the multi-leveled heartache of figuring out what went wrong, learn whatever you can as quickly as you can, put your new knowledge into effect, and try to share your understandably embarrassing and painful experience with others in the way our new, wonderful comedic star does. 

Combining sadness, recommitment, and resilience without guile or disillusionment, Amy Schumer addresses these relationship life ruptures in a marvelous way that can really help leave the need for closure behind.

Dr. Randi Gunther – www.randigunther.com

Amy Sherman

The pain, disappointment and anger you feel when a relationship ends – and you weren’t expecting it – is sometimes hard to understand. 

You often have questions, like, why did this happen, what did I do wrong, how can I have prevented it, how can I have been so blind?

Understand that things will not always go as you expect and because you are two individuals with your own agendas, you can, and often will, hurt one another. 

I’m sure you know what, “We have to talk means” yet the anxiety and confusion will always leave you wondering, “What just happened?”.

  • What you need to realize is that if one of you is unhappy, why should you continue being in the relationship? 
  • Why should anyone be with someone who is not meeting all your needs or treating you the way you know you should be treated? 

A breakup is necessary, but, of course, how you do it depends on your integrity, confidence and effective conversation skills.

After the initial shock of the breakup, what do you do to find closure to get on with your life, unscathed?

1. Keep yourself busy with supportive friends and family

Life still needs to go on, so you might as well do it with your best support system.

2. If you didn’t say what you need to say at the time of the breakup, write it down, put it in a glass bowl, go outside and burn it

Make it ceremonial, as if the past is being swept away with the wind. You’ll feel better.

3. Surround yourself, not with memories, but with inspirational material of courage, happiness and expectation

It’s not a good idea to watch depressing or dreary things on TV; rather you need to be uplifted and hopeful again with comedies, funny videos, etc.

4. There are plenty of ways to meet new guys, when you are ready

With that in mind, you can go through the healing process knowing that Mr. Right is just around the corner.

Relationships are never easy, even when you find the right person. 

It always takes work and commitment. However, every time you meet someone and break up, you are getting that much closer to meeting the person who will sweep you off your feet – and that’s a good thing.

Amy Sherman, M.A., LMHC – www.yourbabyboomersnetwork.com

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The key is understanding men on a deep emotional level, and how the subtle things you say to a man affect him much more than you might think.

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