In Relationships: Does Closure Exist? (Exhibit B)

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Lately I’ve been exploring the subject of closure. Everyone talks about closure; needing it, wanting it, looking for it, etc.

I don’t know how many times I’ve had a girl friend go to see an ex that “did her dirty” using the closure excuse. They all say the same thing, “I know I shouldn’t give him the time of day but– I really need closure.” I just always assumed that I was missing something because closure didn’t make sense to me, but when I tried to find closure with a guy from my past it was a HUGE disappointment.

In sharing that story last week, I said “…the truth may be that people hurt people… and then they move on! Maybe we should move on too.” One reader (@missmeandi) responded to that statement: As you said, people hurt people and then they move on. Sometimes, an apology is just an excuse for bad behavior that had no real meaning in the first place. I’d rather not be placated with an empty apology. In the end the why of a break-up isn’t even really important, once you’ve moved on. The way one handles the break-up is the only thing that matters. At least, that’s how I feel about it. (Now, my answer is completely different if the break-up DOESN’T REALLY HAPPEN but the couple kinda just stopped talking to one another. LOL Somebody got some ‘splaining’ to do!)

Oh @MissMeandi, I think you may have just called me out! As much as I try to analyze myself, I almost started to research if this was one of the topics of study in online psychology classes.There are two sides to every search for closure and a few months ago, I found someone looking for closure… from me. Let me explain:

Rewind to 2 years ago, I was in California for Christmas talking to Grant, who I affectionately referred to as my “gay husband”. The title was more than applicable in many ways. Grant took care of me during bad times, visited me at my thankless job with a funny joke or a soy-mocha, was my +1 for everything and I truly loved him. One year when all of my friends bailed on me during a move, I called Grant in tears and he left his summer class at Columbia to come and schlep boxes with me. He was the perfect boyfriend (except for the whole gay part). The only negative thing about my relationship with Grant was that we fought. Often.

Anyway, Grant had just returned from a summer abroad and for some reason things were tense between us. Grant was staying in my apartment for a few weeks while I was away and I felt like he was mad at me but I didn’t know why. Our communication styles were very different (one of us direct, the other passive aggressive) which caused a lot of confusion. That particular day, during that particular phone conversation we were both on edge. Things were said, words were misconstrued and while this had happened with us a thousand times before, on that day I decided I was done.

Although, Grant was easily one of the best friends I’d ever had, I didn’t think it was healthy to have someone in my life that made me so angry.

The only problem is, I never told Grant how I felt. I just cut him off.

Looking back, I think I just didn’t know how to “break up” with someone who I wasn’t actually dating. So I just stopped the routine of our friendship.

Overtime, we made our way back into each others lives on a “birthday’s and holidays” basis. I’d attend his birthday, he’d attend mine– we’d even meet for a quick drink now and again, but we never discussed how/why we “broke up”.

A few months ago, Grant decided to move to LA, he emailed me asking for, you guessed it… closure. We agreed to meet for breakfast and talk about that tense time and how it translated into the end of our friendship. We rehashed it all including that fateful phone call when I was in California. Grant looked at me and said, “I hung up that day and told myself I’d wait for you to call me back… and you never did.” My heart broke.

Hearing it from his perspective made me regret the way I handled things. I could have done things in a more caring way. I could have respected the history of what we had and what we’d been through. Although we both agreed that our friendship ended due to missteps and mis-communication on both parts, I feel like I was the “bad guy” because of how I chose to end things.

Since sitting down with Grant to give him closure, we’ve been in touch a lot more. He’s still one of the best people I know and I’m glad he’s in my life.

In this case, I feel like closure was achieved, but only because both of us were interested in finding it. A situation like this, from what I’ve observed is still pretty rare, which still leaves me wondering whether in romantic relationships closure is a viable option.

I’ll take one more look at closure next week… in the meantime, share your thoughts below! Have YOU ever been the one to give closure? Ever had an ex or friend where you BOTH needed closure?

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  • Jo

    I’m currently in a similar situation with my used to be gay best friend. We always had an unusual relationship but it worked for us. He was the direct one and I was the passive aggressive one. We fought pretty often over a seven year timespan but we always had this inkling we would make up and we always did, except for this last time.
    It was his birthday week he was having a party and I told him I wasn’t going to be able to make it because it had been a really bad week for me (my mother had just gotten out of the hospital after a major surgery, I had just gotten back in town and hadn’t slept in over a week.) I tried to explain that to him but all I got back was “I’ll try to understand and be a good friend but I can’t guarantee anything.” At that moment I was furious and cut off all ties. Now that months have passed I realize maybe I should have told him why it was all over but I don’t know… But another part of me thinks he should’ve at least asked if there was a reason I cut him out of my life. As for closure, I think we both need it, but both of us are to stubborn to admit it. But I do have to admit, I still miss him! But I don’t things will ever be the same.

    • Anonymous

      Hey Jo– I’m sooo glad you understood where I was coming from with this. The gay guy/straight girl relationship is very tough sometimes. Don’t let stubbornness keep you from your closure if you need it… I was glad I got mine in this instance. xoxo

  • Nessa

    I’m going through something similar right now too, except my friend is not gay, but he is/was my closest friend. Over the years, he has had many trials and tribulations, all of which I have gone through with him, supported him and generally put my life on hold to help him out, I never expected anything back, or wanted anything back. Christmas 2010 he moved to another town quite a way from where I live. Not long after that, my mother was diagnosed with cancer and so began what I lovingly refer to as “my year in hell”. During this time, I spent most of my life either at work or at the hospital, I was desperately lonely, had nobody to lean on and was buckling under the pressure. One night on Facebook he wrote that he was wandering around the airport trying to find somewhere to charge his phone. I asked where he was going, thinking he couldn’t be coming to Auckland, because he would have told me. One of his new friends that I do not know answered me with “brace yourself, he’s coming your way”. This shocked me. I left a very short “oh cool” comment and logged off. About three minutes later I get a text saying something like “oh I didn’t tell you because Tess paid for my ticket so I didn’t feel like I could spend any time with you”. That blew me away. My so called best friend is coming to town and can’t even let me know. I never answered the text, but a few days later he text me again, so I answered him with short, one word responses. Eventually, he stopped texting. Since then we have not spoken and about 2 weeks ago, he unfriended me from Facebook. Trivial as it seems, it is a very clear message. The point is, I screwed up, probably more than he did. Getting snotty at him over something like this was pathetic, and now, having let it go for so long I have no idea how to fix it, or how to achieve any sort of closure. As much as I realise I was totally out of line, he was too. I’d love to get in touch with him and either sort it out, or finish it properly, but I have feeling it’s all just a bit to late. I miss him every single day. Sometimes, turning back the clock would be so useful.

    • Anonymous

      The facebook “unfriend” is the WORST! Grant did that to me too… I feel like what you just wrote here would be a great way to at least attempt to open communication with him. If you were going through a rough time, hopefully he will understand that. Missing someone is not a good feeling :-(