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How Can I Get Closure After a Breakup Without Involving My Ex?

Amanda Ann Gregory, LCPC, EMDR Certified

Relationship closure is the experience of acceptance and resolution once a relationship has ended. Closure is an important experience, but it can be difficult to achieve if one or both partners are unable to participate in interactions that promote closure. There are many factors that determine whether former partners are able to achieve closure together. Here are a few components that need to be present:

  •     Safety. Both partners feel physically and emotionally safe to interact with each other during the breakup or after the relationship has ended.
  •     Acceptance. Both partners are able to accept, or are working on accepting that the relationship has ended. If one partner is taking actions to continue the relationship or is hopeful that the relationship will continue, this will impede the process of achieving closure.
  •     Willingness. Both partners must be willing either to achieve either their own closure or to help their ex achieve closure. 

Sometimes, it’s simply not an option to seek closure by involving your ex and you need to achieve closure on your own. But, how do you do this? 

Here are a few methods to consider if you need to experience closure without involving your ex: 

1)    Write. Write a letter or series of letters to your ex and express whatever you need to communicate. Try free writing your thoughts and feelings about the relationship, the breakup, or whatever comes to mind. Write in a way in which you are completely unedited and uncensored. This letter may help you process your emotional experiences, which may bring about closure. Although it may be tempting, it is important that you do not send your letter to your ex. This letter is only for you.

2) Verbalize. Talk to your ex out loud without being in their presence. Have you ever imagined having conversations with someone in your head? This is a similar method, only you’re speaking out loud. Feel free to say whatever you need to say. Be strategic about where you do this. Most people prefer to do this at home or in a private setting. Some of my clients have found that having background noise is helpful if they wish to scream or cry. This method may allow you to process your emotions and thoughts, which could help you achieve closure.

3) Purge. Let go of things or people that will prevent closure. There are many different ways to purge, so it’s best to do what feels right for you. Some people decide to throw away, destroy, give back, or donate items that are associated with the relationship. Others will let go of people who are associated with their ex or who no longer have a positive impact on their life. This may involve blocking or unfollowing certain people on social media or spending less time with people associated with the relationship. When purging, it’s best to not do anything impulsively and to take time to think carefully about what or who needs to be purged before taking action.

4)    Create Boundaries. In order to achieve closure, you may need to establish boundaries with yourself and others. These boundaries are meant to provide you with the space to achieve closure. Here are examples of such boundaries:

○      Not checking up on your ex or their associates on social media.

○      Asking friends/family to not mention your ex.

○      Decreasing or ceasing communication with your ex.

○      Maintain professional interactions with your ex if you’re in a workplace setting together. 

Achieving closure is important after a breakup. If you’ve experienced a breakup, it may be helpful to connect with a therapist in Chicago, Phoenix, Washington DC, or wherever you’re located. Contact Symmetry Counseling today to schedule an appointment.

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