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Breakups: Seeking Closure is Hurting, Not Helping

“When you’re seeking closure, you can’t expect someone to come to the same conclusions you’ve come to; you have to know you are going to have different perspectives.”
Brooke Silver
Seeking closure can re-open old wounds

While the stories from students shared below are verifiable, their names have been replaced to provide anonymity.

Closure is sought after breakups to find peace within a situation and move forward. Most people are unaware that seeking closure is typically not the right path to recovery. A term developed in the 20th century, closure originally meant the cognitive process in which humans “close” or “complete” incomplete figures. Over generations, the term has evolved into a modified version in which closure is continuously sought until the individual seeking it achieves complete satisfaction. Unfortunately, while the pursuit of closure through this strategy is common, the expected results are not. 

The most effective strategy to gain closure is to be tolerant of the uncertainty of factors within a situation, and sometimes, hard truths. A recent article from Psychology Today describes that intolerance of ambiguity and facing negative emotions while actively seeking closure will not provide the intended effect. It said, “Instead, particularly in the context of a relationship conflict, such attempts to achieve closure are instead more likely to exacerbate conflict, raise new grievances, and cause friction and anger to persist.”

B-CC student Lydia shared her perspective on the issue, referring to a recent breakup. “There are some things that you just won’t ever get enough closure with, and that kind of drives you crazy,” she said. She went on to describe how after her recent breakup she received mixed signals from the other party and questioned his reasons for ending their relationship. “I got into searching, and I found out a lot of stuff that went on behind the scenes that I wouldn’t have found if I didn’t go looking for it,” she explained. “I found out that he cheated on me with my best friend. I found out that he had saved other girls’ explicit photos on his phone, and I found a lot of conversations with him and other girls via DM leaked to me, among other really hurtful stuff that he did during the relationship that I wasn’t aware of.” 

Lydia was left trying to justify the idea she was comfortable with in her mind: “He was just in a different place than me at this time; that’s why he wanted to break up, not because he didn’t love me.” In seeking justification and closure, she was met with a harsh reality that deepened the emotional wounds she was still processing from the breakup itself. “I just honestly wish I never went looking for an explanation,” she said.

The complexities within the process of gaining closure can be seen as a pattern throughout Gen Z, as our widespread use of social media influences content consumption. Recent TikTok trends have promoted actively seeking closure, among other tools for healing from heartbreaks. 

“I think that social media definitely glorifies it,” says Lydia. One trend in particular included showing a picture of a person before, during, and after a breakup to show the difference in their appearance. “It’s really hard, like, you can’t see the behind the scenes so you just think ‘Why isn’t it that easy for me?’” Social media creates false expectations of satisfaction from seeking closure. “It just makes it a lot harder to get over someone,” she said. 

Seeking closure is typically detrimental to recoveries after breakups, but there are ways to express emotions without deepening conflict within a situation. “After my first relationship freshman year, my mom talked to me about how sometimes breakups are kind of like grief; it’s losing someone from your life,” B-CC student Tiffany said. “Her dad died when she was pretty young. She told me that she would write him letters, even though she couldn’t send them to him, just to feel like she was talking to him, to find some feeling of closure.”  

In Tiffany’s experience, closure was attainable, perhaps because she did not seek it. She took the time to reflect, using a similar technique to her mother’s. “I will write people who have left my life letters all the time, whether or not I send them. It just gets all my feelings out,” she said. 

Tiffany also found that having conversations with her former partners could be helpful under certain circumstances. “It can be very helpful to get your own feelings off your chest, as long as you’re doing it without having an expectation of how they’re going to respond,” she said. “When you’re seeking closure, you can’t expect someone to come to the same conclusions you’ve come to; you have to know you are going to have different perspectives.” Her experience actively demonstrates the importance of finding comfort within uncertainty, as well as finding closure within yourself rather than within justification from others. “I’d given myself a chance to figure out who I was outside of the relationship, so when we talked it was more of a reflection than a desperate attempt to hold onto something that was. Not seeking closure was how I gained it.”

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About the Contributors
Swati Ernst
Swati Ernst, Staff Reporter
Swati Ernst is a Junior at B-CC who aspires to create change and amplify the voices of students and other community members through her writing. In her free time, she enjoys playing guitar and listening to records with her cat.
Nathaniel Seaman, Section Director
Nat is a B-CC senior and is reprising his role as section director of art and photography for the second year in a row. In his free time, Nat enjoys boxing, reading and photography.
Brooke Silver
Brooke Silver, Editor-in-Chief
Brooke Silver, a B-CC senior, serves as the Editor-in-Chief specializing in Business Management, along with serving as the Sports Director for the last two years. In her free time, she enjoys hanging out with most of her friends and plays on the B-CC Field Hockey team. Her favorite memory at B-CC was homecoming night, she remembers it like it was yesterday.

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