Getting a Closure Without a Closure

Getting a Closure Without a Closure

Perhaps you want an apology, or an explanation that satisfies you enough for you to move on. You feel frustrated, angry and confused among many other emotions as you replay past events in your mind and attempt to rationalise or troubleshoot what could have gone wrong; and if you were the one, or mostly, at fault. You may even feel that if you and the other person can simply “sit down and talk”, the relationship could be repaired and both of you could return to happier times.

Except, the other person does not want to have anything to do with you anymore. They may sound like they could have a friendship with you but you are not quite feeling the friendly vibes from them. In fact, the last time you checked with mutual friends or their social media, the other person seemed to have moved on with their life and they have been spending time with everyone but you (they tell you they are quite busy and they will let you know when they can meet you).

People seek closure for all kinds of life events and relationships. In a nutshell, seeking a closure essentially means individuals getting their questions answered as there is an aversion to uncertainties (Rubin et al., 2011). Some people also seek closure as they are decisive, structured and close-minded (Kruglanski, 2004).

So what can you do if you feel unsettled and feel that you need a closure to move on? Psychiatrist Abigail Brenner suggests the following tips:

  • Take full responsibility for yourself through self-reflection
  • Make time to grieve
  • Remind yourself of your strengths
  • Make a short-term plan that you can implement soon
  • Perform a ritual such as putting away things that may trigger you

For more on the above tips, do read Abigail’s article on 5 Ways to Find Closure From the Past

Take some time to check in with yourself or others and assess your readiness in seeking closure. If you are not ready or have reservations, it is totally okay to take a breather and get into your safe place and ways to make you feel comfortable. If you feel ready, you can explore more on finding closure as part of your preparation towards an action plan that you could carry out with.

Case (*names have been changed to protect the identities of individuals)

 Sandra has just filed for a divorce and, as she had expected, her soon-to-be-ex-husband Jack, is pleading with her for a second chance. To Sandra, the “second chance” has already been given over the months that she and Jack has been married for. For Jack, however, this issuance of a divorce from Sandra is shocking and unreal. In fact, Jack feels that Sandra is not thinking right and is being impulsive. He begs Sandra to reconsider and he promises to work with her on their marriage. Jack feels there is nothing that they cannot overcome as a couple and he is willing to do whatever it takes to save their marriage. Friends and family of Jack and Sarah suggest that the couple sees a marriage counsellor to sort things out. Sarah feels that would be no use to her if the purpose is for her to be convinced that she should take Jack back.

The above scenario is commonly experienced by couples where one party has already moved on and the other one is often surprised or shocked when the divorce is issued. While there is no one determining factor that causes a marriage to break down, couples that have not been in sync for some time often experience stark differences in the way they go through a divorce. Hence, having a conversation about the closure of a marriage can sometimes help a couple to come to terms with the latest status of their relationship and gain insights on how things might have built up to where they are in the present moment. At times, this may even allow the couple to acknowledge and grieve over their suffering and pain, paving ways for both parties to move on.

A closure can sound alarming to those who do not want things to end, though, in reality, they often do when it is only one party wishing for continuity. Conversations revolving closures then do not make sense for the party who wishes to make changes with the aim of convincing the other party to change their mind and give a second chance. However, it is this very crucial point that the party seeking reconciliation recognises that being able to discuss closures can be a sign of true admittance of one’s faults and wrongdoings, and that there is sincere reflection and understanding or attempt to understand done on the relationship with the party and how the party’s perception of what led to the breakdown of the relationship.



  1. Rubin, M., Paolini, S., & Crisp, R. J. (2011). The relationship between the need for closure and deviant bias: An investigation of generality and process. International Journal of Psychology, 46, 206-213. doi: 10.1080/00207594.2010.537660
  2. Kruglanski, A. W. (2004). The psychology of closed mindedness. New York: Psychology Press.
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