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Closure: To Call or Not to Call

It’s 12:15am and I can’t sleep just yet. There are way too many questions burning in my mind. I just had a lengthy conversation/debate with some friends, and the aftermath of that is still lingering: To call or not to call?

When a relationship ends on a bad note, and time passes without a word spoken between the two, at what point is it okay for either one to call? (Let’s be honest, I really mean at what point is it okay for the girl to call?) One person said tonight that it’s tough to say unless you have all the details and specifics of the relationship or the situation that ended it all. So, since I can’t share someone’s details here, I’m going to broaden the topic to ‘closure.’

I’ve been pretty curious about closure for a while – way before the whole debate happened tonight. I’m a big proponent of dialogue and open communication. It’s my principle. You have to talk. If you have something to say, say it. Of course, think about how you say it, but say it nonetheless. I really don’t like it when people bottle things inside and it festers and becomes a whole other beast. I just don’t like things to be unspoken, to be left unsaid. Information is power. People make decisions each day based completely on the information available to them. If they don’t have the whole picture, it absolutely influences the decisions they make. To me, besides religion, communication is the strongest foundation any relationship can have – be it a platonic or intimate one. And I think even when the relationship ends, there should be nothing left unsaid – nothing left to speculation. Maybe that’s a tall order, I don’t know, but don’t they say assumption is the mother of all eff ups.

I believe in saying what you need to say, and leaving nothing to be assumed later. So maybe technically, I believe in closure. I think closure is a way to confirm or validate how you felt during the relationship and acknowledging that it didn’t work through no specific personal fault of yours. Closure is really meant to ensure that you’re both on the same page or close enough to the same page. It’s more a woman’s way of seeking that final confirmation that yes, she meant something, for a while she definitely meant something. A woman doesn’t want to walk away feeling like there was really no love, feeling like the guy never cared, that she never mattered. Women can’t afford to second guess how it really was for the guy. We need certainty – certainty that he remembers what you meant to each other.

However, is closure really a cop out for clinging onto a relationship or onto someone you’re not ready to let go? Is closure a ‘female excuse’ to stay connected and get answers that you may already have? I think sometimes the need for closure also arises when it’s obvious something is unsaid. Some guys break up with you and use the lamest excuses ever, and you ponder for days, weeks or months on what the eff happened? Sometimes, guys also just throw a curveball and leave you hanging when you thought it was all dandy, and it just takes you a moment to react. Not all people are able to immediately react and demand a resolution or answers. So if time has passed, and you’re genuinely over this person, is it okay to seek some sort of closure?

There are those who think if you’re really over the person, then closure isn’t necessary. You just move on and let it go. I get that philosophy to a great extent. I will admit that seeking answers hasn’t always worked out, but I tell myself (and this may be a lie I feed myself) that my conscience is clear and I AT LEAST made the attempt to clear the air.

There are also others who believe you can’t give someone closure, you can only give closure to yourself. This sounds pretty cheesy, like something written on a fortune cookie. It sounds all soulful and spiritual, but how true or practical is it? I do agree there is work that you need to do yourself to move on. There are definitely things you will need to deal with on your own. But does that mean that all the answers and resolution you need lie within you?

There are others who also believe closure is a never ending and impossible concept for a number of reasons. For one, whatever lie the person told you at the end of the relationship can be the same lie they repeat when you insist you need closure. Does that mean that when it’s said twice, you will then believe it’s true and accept that that was the reason that ended it? Does what someone says to you really give you the peace you need? What if they are lying again? What is they spin you some BS because you simply won’t let it go? Seeking closure isn’t a fool proof action and there are no guarantees.

There are also those who say closure is a woman’s excuse for wanting to do something stupid, for instance, writing, calling or ambushing a guy. And once the closure conversation takes place, they still want more answers. They always want more answers.

Then there are some (interesting theory) that closure sometimes ends up as ‘one for the road’ – what the women (or guys) really want is one last final roll in the hay, the closure sex.

So then – should we or should we not seek closure?

It all depends. That sounds like another cop out but that’s the truth. It depends on the type of relationship you had and the level of investment you put in. Casual dating for a few months may not warrant that urge to get answers, but you may obsess more over a relationship that you cherished and valued. It also depends on the reason the guy or the girl gives for calling it quits. Some reasons are super lame and just don’t make any sense. If that’s the case, yeah you may want to understand what is going on. It also depends on the relationship you have after it ended. If somehow you manage to stay friends, your need for closure may be less than if you go from intimacy to complete strangers and you really don’t understand why. It also depends on what actions the other person takes after it ends. If the guy starts dating someone you sort of suspected while you were together, then you may start feeling an urge to get some answers. If the guy starts to talk about you in a negative (or even positive way), you may start to feel there are things left unsaid that needs to be dealt with. Last, it also depends on if you were the one who said hateful things and left those biting (and maybe untrue) words stuck in someone’s minds. Sometimes you say things you don’t mean during an argument or a bad moment. The recipient of your tirade moves on, but you’re stuck in limbo thinking about what you said over and over, wishing you had handled things differently. In cases like that, yes you may need closure, or maybe its more like forgiveness.

As much as it all depends, there is one fundamental thing that precedes the need for closure – communication. The one line that irks me most in movies, books or real life stories is ‘why didn’t you tell me? I loved you too. I just needed a sign from you.’ Are you effing kidding me? I am really not diverging from the topic of closure; I am just going back full circle to the concept of communication.

If two people have strong, open communication during, at the end, and after a relationship, then the need for closure becomes far less. It is really all about communication. If you are truly honest with each other from the get-go, through-out the relationship, then the end and the aftermath shouldn’t shock anyone. Unfortunately we are all terrible communicators – that is a whole other blog – because we are really selfish and it’s all about preserving our pride. Honesty is bloody scary. Honesty is deep and heavy and no one wants to deal with it, not while you’re in the relationship and not when it’s over either. We just can’t tell the truth to each other. We’re afraid we’ll be rejected, ridiculed, embarrassed, etc. Those are genuine concerns but I feel something far greater is lost when two people just can’t tell each other truly how they feel.

To call or not call? To seek closure or to let go for good? I really don’t know the answer to that. All I can say is I’m the type of person who needs to say how she feels when she feels it. I don’t want to be old, bitter and second guessing everything, wondering if I should have said something at this time or that time. That will kill me. Although to be fair, there are a couple of people I owe long overdue conversations, I go to bed 80% of the time feeling I have said what needs to be said. Yes, I do agonize deeply over those I haven’t really had a chance to have that tete a tete with, but I know I will soon enough.

Are you at peace? Do you need closure? Do you really really? Then talk to the person. If not, find someway to make peace with yourself. Bottom line, start with whatever relationship you are in now, be honest from day one. No matter the type of relationship it is, be open and honest. Whether you are a guy or girl, we all really need to talk – really talk. So, if there is someone you need to be honest with, about something that happened, or how you feel, go for it. What do you have to lose? A little pride, yeah, but you could gain so much more.