How To Close The Door On A Past Love Relationship
You either got dumped or did the dumping, but you can’t get that person out of your mind. You are wavering between happy memories of yesterday and the make-believe images of tomorrow. The fact is, you’re stuck! You may not even feel the pain of the breakup yet. Certainly in this state you aren’t capable of formulating a plan for recovery or moving on.
The hoop you have to jump through is right in front of you. It’s called closure.
What Is Closure Anyway?
In the literal sense, closure means to complete something, to come to the end, to close the door. In terms of your relationship, it signifies that it’s over. There is no more need to debate, agonize, or question. It’s through!
Once you accept that your relationship has reached the end of the road, you are able to get on with the psychological components of closure namely the analysis of past events and the reconciliation of them intellectually and emotionally within yourself.
Who Needs It?
The answer is simple: everyone!
University of North Carolina researcher Ann L. Weber discovered that her college students found a breakup without an explanation from the dumper the most difficult kind of split to endure. That includes breakups due to cheating or going back to a former lover. She claims bad news is often more acceptable than no news.
Why? In her book, The Dark Side of Love (Laurence Erlbaum Associates, 1998), Weber explains: Humans need input, information, explanations, sometimes so desperately that we settle for rumor or fantasy in the absence of empirical data.
Why Closure Is Hard to Come By
For most couples a clean break is rarely instantaneous. Studies reveal several factors that complicate the process and make a jump through the C Hoop a tight squeeze.
Closure requires a man/woman come to a conclusion about why the relationship ended. That isn’t always easy to do. A lack of explanation, mixed messages, an unwillingness to accept the truth, and a refusal to acknowledge that it’s over get in the way.
There are a multitude of factors, internal and external, that influence our romantic perceptions: attraction, memories, desire, libido, wishes. The tug and pull of these influences are foolers that interfere with an objective mindset and make it hard to let go of something you wanted.
Love may end, but the need for love remains. Consequently, it is hard to give up that person associated with the fulfillment of those needs.
There is the tendency to believe that the support, comfort, and good feelings felt within this relationship can only be obtained from this particular partner.
Our minds play tricks on us and make us see signs that aren’t there. We may have gone so far as to imagine more of a romantic connection or relationship than existed. Therefore, it would be impossible to decipher why someone broke up with you because they never shared your vision of the relationship in the first place. This happens more often than you think.
Although two people may stop loving each other, they can have a problem dissolving the attachment they formed. They persist in keeping contact and emit weak sparks of romantic interest that quickly lose their glow.
We are hesitant to admit that we can’t rekindle the lights of desire in the other person.
Lou’s Desperate Attempt to Head Off Closure
Sometimes when men and women refuse to give up on a relationship or a romantic interest, they do foolish things in the name of love. Take Lou for example. He thought if he disavowed Linda’s breakup notice, camped outside her dorm room door, and kept popping up everywhere she was, she would change her mind.
Lou’s plan was not only silly and immature, but it demonstrated how hard someone will push from the other side trying to keep the door open. Lou had a case of what researchers William R. Cupach and Brian H. Spitzberg call ORI, or obsessive relational intrusion. It strikes all ages. A severe case of ORI might be considered a stalker. Lou was well on his way to becoming one.
Is Your Ex Showing Obsessive Behavior? Are You?
If Jill is intruding on Jack’s space after a breakup by engaging in repeated acts of menacing and annoying behaviors, she is exhibiting unhealthy, excessive behavior. The behaviors noted in The Dark Side of Close Relationships (Brian H. Spitzberg and William R. Cupach, eds., Lawrence Erlbaum Associates, 1998), listed below, go beyond a normal persistence to try to win back love and affection.
Calling to argue.
Hanging up when the phone is answered.
Spying from a distance.
Checking up on you through your friends.
Repeatedly driving by your house.
Doing important favors without being asked.
Surprise visits at work.
Leaving notes on car windshields.
Calling to check up on your whereabouts.
Making up lies about you and the extent of your intimacy and spreading rumors.
Continually begging for one more chance.
Sending gifts and cards.
Threatening physical harm or damaging your property.
Give Yourself an A for Effort
Don’t be too hard on yourself. You now have an awareness of closure and should begin making the effort to jump through that hoop. If, however, you seem to get tripped up and fall flat on your face, that too is understandable. No one is in control of a song, a place, or even a smell that causes a sudden flash of memory or yearning. As long as you are making the attempt at closure, using your mind instead of your heart, and not giving into these pangs of desire, you deserve an A for effort.
What you may continue to feel for a very long time is that craving for companionship, fun, affection, and intimacy that most relationships provide even in the infatuation stage. Don’t, however, confuse these natural desires with a longing for your ex-pal. Leave him or her out of the picture in order to make closure conclusive.
How Long Should It Take to Gain Closure?
No one can pin this process to the precise hour hand on a clock or the finite days on a calendar. The realizations and insights that enable you to gain control of your heart and mind take a different amount of time to surface in each individual.
One woman in her mid-20s admitted she never experienced closure until another man came into the picture and captured her heart and attention. But that’s not closure, that’s diversion dependent on outside forces. Closure should rely more on the self, not on others.
There is conjecture by some relationship experts that it can take up to two years to reach closure. This seems unnecessarily long and excessive. How many of us have two years to waste trying to shut the door on a non-marital relationship? I’d say relatively few!
It seems more reasonable to expect that becoming accustomed to the separation will take several months and possibly several more after that to stop feeling sad and nostalgic. Then add a moderate amount of time onto that to think clearly and find reasons why you should stop wishing he or she were still your love interest.
At the outset of a breakup ask yourself how much time you are willing to wallow in self-pity, drown in a pool of longing, and suffer the pangs of heartbreak. One young law student took a year off of school to complete the process. Hopefully she won’t regret those 12 months later. Certainly it shouldn’t take any longer than that.
A Classic, Time-Consuming Case of Putting Off Closure
Liza dated Lou for a year and a half. He was her first post-college beau. She associated her newfound success with his presence in her life. It all seemed like one big, happy package a good job, the serious prospect of marriage, and love ever after. When the attraction fizzled and Lou started showing his not-so-nice other side, Liza was reluctant to let go. To help herself make the necessary split, she moved to another city. But after putting distance between them, she stopped short of closure.
She continued to allow him to call, although each contact opened old wounds and prevented her from cooling the embers of love. Her fantasy was to pick up the phone one day and hear him apologize for all his wrong-doings and plead for another chance. She has waited nearly two years hoping he would say, I love you. I want you back. Recently she installed caller I.D. and has refused to pick up the phone when he calls. But that’s not closure either.
Closure would be Liza telling Lou, Please don’t call me ever again. Without that statement, closure in Liza’s case will be put on hold. Evidently she isn’t ready to let go of the past or shed that tiny ray of hope.
Use some imagery. There are a series of doorstops that need to be pushed out of the way one at a time. Hesitating will only lengthen the time you allotted for gaining closure and increase the weight of the burden. Think of each heavy doorstop as an aspect of your relationship that admittedly you will miss but which must be shoved aside.
1. The physical presence of your love interest.
2. The activities you shared.
3. The sexual intimacy you engaged in.
4. The interdependency you created.
5. The hopes and dreams you formulated.
6. The satisfaction of needs you attributed to this person.
7. The fulfillment found in his or her participation in your life.
8. The love you gave and received.
The disappointment, anger, rejection, depression, and fear you may be faced with after you remove these doorstops will be dealt with in the following articles. They will assist you in surviving the breakup and achieving the closure necessary to find a new, exciting, and more appropriate partner.
The Golden Rules of Closure
Once you get close to shutting that door, follow through by using these rules of closure:
1. Stow the idea of a trial separation.
2. Don’t be sweet-talked or tempted by memory back into the relationship.
3. Do not, I repeat, do not consider sexual farewells. It is problematic to make a warm bed.
4. Shut your ears to promises you know won’t be kept.
5. Stay focused on the future you deserve and desire.
If you have successfully followed the advice and exercises in this article you are well on your way to achieving closure. However, you still have to confront the emotional aftermath of your breakup head on in order to close that door and subsequently be ready to re-enter into the dating arena unhampered by reminders of the past.
Don’t think for one moment that closure is merely one of those buzz words of the ’90s. It is an absolute necessity in the breakup process.
Watch the following video for more advice and help.