Shelley J Whitehead

Desperate for closure? Don’t make these mistakes

3 August, 2023

In my work as a relationship coach, people often come to me when they are recovering from heartbreak, and are desperate to get ‘closure’. I see them making the same mistakes over and over again in both their understanding of what closure really is and how they can achieve it.

For those of you who don’t know me, my name is Shelley and I’m a relationship coach, helping people all over the world to heal from heartbreak and transform their breakup pain into the biggest transformations they have ever made in life. It is my life’s work and greatest pleasure to share my resources and teachings with people, to bring them to a place of thriving.

In this post, I’m going to do a bit of myth busting, to help you – if you are stuck in a heartbreak rut – avoid this common pitfall.

The common misconception about closure

So what is closure?

Closure is the idea that we can understand the ‘reasons’ a relationship went wrong. After a rupture, it’s something our brains are desperate to achieve. Why? Because we believe that as a result we will be able to accept what happened and feel a sense of resolution that will enable a fresh start.

When a relationship ends amicably, it’s easier to move on and restructure your life fairly quickly. When it’s an unexpected breakup, however, it can leave us in limbo and knock us so off-balance we feel we can never trust again. How could someone you thought you knew so well do this to you? Sadly, many of us land in this kind of abyss without getting closure and feel deeply traumatised.

If this is you, you may be frantically wondering what you did wrong, constantly thinking back to when they last did or said something kind that made you feel connected to them. One coachee likened this process of constantly searching for answers to picking at a physical wound. (This relates to what is called the ‘bargaining’ stage of grief… for more info on that you can take a look at my video on the subject). Here’s the important thing you need to know: when a relationship ends acrimoniously, more often than not you’re NOT going to get those answers. Whatever your ex said or did, it may never make sense.

The truth about closure and how to find it within yourself

So here’s the myth-busting reality…

You can’t get closure FROM YOUR EX. The things that they say or the explanations that they give you are not going to heal you. Healing is an inside job. The work you do on YOU is going to give you the closure you so badly need. That’s one of the most important things you need to know in order to recover from heartbreak. Once you have worked your way through a proper healing process, the door will have very firmly closed on your past, but this will not be something that will come from your ex.

The ending of a relationship means the end of seeking the connection of understanding. When someone wants to end a relationship they are not looking to get closer to you or to give you deeper insights into the inner workings of their soul.

If you are still communicating from a place of seeking connection whilst they are communicating from a place of wanting the connection to be shut down, you will not be able to meet in the middle. Your destinations and desired end points are different. You need to stop looking to ‘meet in the middle’ as there is no ‘middle’ any more.

You are looking for different things: they are looking for reasons for you not to be together when you are looking for connection. They have left and departed from connection. So you will never meet in a place of understanding. By its very definition, the ending of a relationship is the end of a connection. So after a relationship is over you will not have any real access to their place of ‘truth’ as their future will be pointing in a different direction to yours.

How to know when it’s time to let go

You know when a relationship is over when one or both of you stops being interested in evolving and in finding ways to connect, to grow together in the relationship and to learn more about how to support each other’s needs and values. If someone isn’t interested in growth and isn’t interested in supporting you and your needs and values, then there is nothing you can do to change that. It’s important to know when it’s time to let go.

I once started working with a coachee who had been stuck in seeking closure for five years. She was still going over messages her ex had sent years before, still trying to make sense of his lies – even though he’d married someone else by then. She kept stalking him, sitting outside his house in her car, observing his life to try to make sense of her own. This was one of the most painful cases of denial I had ever experienced. As soon as we started working together, she started to experience relief. And, as she worked her way through the steps of my structured process, she found new insights and a new understanding that led her to close the door on the past and not look back! She reached the place of acceptance…and went on to create the most beautiful life for herself.

How to find acceptance and closure within yourself

If your ex does not want the relationship and does not want to be with you, this is closure. You do not want to be with someone who does not value and appreciate you.

From today, close the door to the possibility that you’ll be together again. You’re going to stop wishing they’ll contact you to say they’ve made a huge mistake. If you don’t, you’ll end up stuck.

If you work through a proper healing process but looking inwards, you can get to a place of ‘acceptance’ and beyond, where you will start creating a wonderful new foundation to build on. So I encourage you to look inwards rather than outwards for your answers. That will get you to the place you want to be: in the place of full acceptance and closure, having understood and moved on from what is holding you back.

I hope these ideas have been helpful for you.

Shelley J Whitehead
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