Heartbreak

3 Ways To Finally Get Closure — Even When Your Ex Refuses To Give It To You

Photo: Daniel M Ernst / shutterstock.com  
brunette woman sitting against brick wall looking thoughtful

Whether it’s an ambiguous ending to a long-term relationship or an unexpected ending to a passionate romance, there is one thing that can leave your heart hanging on to a person, even when your head wants to move on. 

You find yourself up most nights tossing and turning, your stomach in a knot of anxiety, and your head caught in a jumble of whys and what-ifs. Finding closure feels impossible.

You watch your ex on social media, looking for any clues that they met someone else. A critical inner voice gets louder and louder, turning the blame inwards.

You're probably experiencing a lack of closure in that relationship.

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There's a good reason your heart move on without finding closure.

Whenever there's ambiguity and a feeling of lack of closure surrounding a breakup, a few main culprits can cause you to obsess over unknown details.

The cause could be as simple as ineffective communication in the relationship. Or maybe you were ghosted. It also could be attributed to a discrepancy in what you feel has happened versus the explanation you were given. 

The latter could be a sign that gaslighting was involved. Perhaps you were so head over heels that you ignored some serious red flags.

A loop of critical, negative self-talk can be hard to escape when you don't have closure.

You might find your thoughts filled with questions like: What did I do wrong? Was it me? See, I'm not good enough. Did he meet someone else? How could I have prevented this from happening?

The truth is, humans are imperfect and endings can be messy. People may lie, thinking they are protecting you or your feelings or even their reputation or self-perception (i.e. wanting to be seen as the good guy).

Others are not effective communicators and don’t have the skills to engage in a dialogue about a relationship's ending or issues.

There can be fear of difficult emotions and your partner possibly didn't know how to deal with your feelings — or their own.

What’s left is you on the other end with little or no explanation, sorting through shifty events and facts that don’t match words. Some partners may just disappear or ghost you to avoid any confrontation or conflict.

As painful as a lack of closure is, with time, you can still move on and find relief from the ache of constantly thinking about him or her and all of the what-ifs. In addition, finding closure for yourself may also help you feel strong and empowered.

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Here are 3 tips on how to find closure when your ex didn't give you any:

1. Quiet your critical voice.

Begin to slow down and notice when your critical inner voice tries to turn a relationship with lack of closure into a reason to confirm that there's something wrong with you.

Gently steer negative inner dialog away from self-blame and self-attack. Instead, allow your inner voice to take the tone of a more gentle and loving mentor or friend.

Access your inner coach: "What would a loving friend who really cares about me say?"

2. Build your tolerance for ambiguity.

You will come up against many times in life where there won’t be clear answers when you want them in order to make sense of something that happened.

Learning to sit in the discomfort of conflicting emotions and calming your anxiety is a skill that can be built. Start small and be gentle with yourself when the feelings begin to swell.

Access your inner coach: "Sometimes I won’t get all the answers I need, but I’m stronger than I think."

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3. Write your own ending and look at the facts for closure.

You can write your own ending, even when you know you’ll never get the clear answers you seek. Begin with looking at any places where you may be stuck blaming yourself or be engaged in negative self-dialog.

Compile a list of facts about the relationship. Was there ineffective communication, inconsistent, sketchy or secretive behavior, gaslighting, or actions that didn't match words?

Once you have compiled a list, access your inner coach: "Looking at the facts, is this someone I would have wanted to continue with? What can I learn from this relationship or experience?"

Moving on after a breakup can take time, especially where there's a lack of closure, but it’s possible to end the obsessive thinking.

You can access your resilience when you slow down and quiet your inner critical voices.

Learn to sit with the absence of concrete answers and take an objective look at all of the facts instead of reflexively blaming yourself.

With self-compassion and self-forgiveness, the letting-go process will slowly open you to new thoughts, new experiences and new opportunities for love.

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Stephanie Lazzara is an ICF-certified holistic life and relationship coach. She helps her clients move through grief, loss, and heartbreak. You can schedule a sample coaching session or find out about her relationship and life coaching programs on her website.

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