If you’ve gone through a breakup recently (or even years ago) and you’re feeling conflicted, confused, heartbroken, or pissed off, then this article is for you.
When your relationship ended, do you feel like you got the closure you needed? Perhaps you tried your best to move on, but sooner or later something pulls you back in. He sends you a late night text telling you he misses you with a sad face emoji and three hearts…
Maybe you’re no longer in contact with him, but the way things ended was ugly or it came out of left field. One day you’re planning your next vacation, the next you’re alone in the bed you once shared. He’s MIA and you’re mourning the loss of your future together… What did he tell his mother? Does he ever plan on picking up his running shoes?
Perhaps you feel that having a final conversation with your ex will give you the closure you need to release the hurt that loving (and losing him) has caused you.
The desire for closure is a healthy one because let’s face it, you’ve given a lot of yourself to this man, investing your heart, emotions and your time, and to summarily end things while you are still feeling raw, sad, or conflicted can haunt you for years to come. Ending an intimate relationship with unanswered questions or unexpressed feelings is like leaving yourself with an open, unattended wound. Over time it can become infected, or heal in a way that leaves you scarred and scared. You may become mistrustful of men, (even men who have never done anything to you) and end up feeling too vulnerable to ever open your heart again so fully.
Hell, you might be so shell shocked that you unconsciously choose to close down your heart for years…or even decades.
Feeling love, secure attachment, passion and healthy reciprocity in an intimate relationship is one of the sweetest gifts that life has to offer. Denying yourself this gift because of how things ended with your ex is a form of emotional abuse that you simply don’t deserve. So let me share with you the secret of experiencing healthy relationship closure with your ex, even if you’re not over him, even if it hurts like hell, and even if he refuses to give you the satisfaction of having that final conversation face-to-face (or any conversation at all).
DEFINING RELATIONSHIP CLOSURE
Relationship closure is the experience of coming to a place of surrender, wholeness and peace — in your body. It’s being in deep acceptance about your relationship ending and being willing to move forward towards your new future, even if you’re still a little tender. It’s the act of choosing to say “yes, this has happened” and taking full responsibility for your part in the ending, even if it caught you completely by surprise. Relationship closure is you consciously choosing how to respond and move forward.
It has been said that love is a choice. Closure is also a choice, the choice to go through the stages of grief and to take care of yourself in the process.
Knowing what closure is and how it can serve you is very helpful, but understanding your needs, desires, and motivation for having a closure conversation is the first step in the 6-step healing process.
STEP 1: DECIDING WHAT YOU WANT
Okay. It’s time to get real honest and have a heart-to-heart conversation with yourself before you seek a heart-to-heart conversation with him. I want you to ask yourself this question: What am I truly desiring to experience with (fill-in-his-name) by having this talk?
If you are having difficulty letting the answer come to you, don’t force it. Take a moment and close your eyes. Lay down, or get in a comfortable position in a quiet place where you can be alone with your thoughts. Let your emotions flow. Eventually your heart will speak to you in the privacy of your thoughts. You might be surprised at the answers:
“I want to make him hurt the way he hurt me.”
“I want to know did he ever love me?”
“I want to know what the hell happened! He told me he loved me! What the f*ck changed?!”
“I was so caught off guard by our breakup, I didn’t say what I needed to say.”
“I want to apologize for my behavior at the end of our breakup.”
“I still love him… and I want him back.”
Whatever comes through, just let it flow and don’t judge yourself or shame yourself for having your feelings. Having feelings is a healthy sign and right now, you are just getting in touch with what is true for you.
Once you bring your emotions and feelings to the surface, you will be able to deal with them in a healthy way.
As you are focusing on your emotions and feelings, it’s important to differentiate between those urgent impulses belonging to a child (i.e. “I need to drive over there right now and ask him why he’s throwing our relationship away, is he crazy?”) and the feelings of a mature, conscious, adult woman (i.e. “I want to express my disappointment but also share gratitude and appreciation for what we shared. I also want to apologize for the hurtful things I said the last time we saw each other.”)
We all have underlying inner wounds and false beliefs that can be triggered during a breakup and you don’t want to take an impulsive action or speak from this younger child place. Don’t instigate a closure conversation when you are feeling separation anxiety and want to pull on him to make you feel better. Instead, soothe that younger, wounded self inside of you first. Then once you are in a more empowered, adult place, you can move on to step 2.
STEP 2: SET YOUR INTENTION
After you are internally clear about your motivations for having the closure conversation, the second step is to write down your intention.
What is the highest and best outcome you can wish for after having this talk? The key here is to let go of desiring any outcome that serves you primarily, and embrace an outcome that will serve you both. So for example, if you suspect that the problem is he is not ready to settle down, then the highest and best outcome is not that you get him to change his mind. Perhaps the highest and best outcome for him is that he feels safe enough to access his true feelings and that for once he can express them to you honestly, clearly and lovingly. Perhaps the highest and best outcome for you is that you are able to receive this information without emotionally shutting down or feeling like he rejected you because are not good enough (pretty enough, young enough, thin enough, etc.). Like seriously, what if you could have an honest conversation with him and not end up feeling bad about yourself?
Perhaps your intention going in is that regardless of outcome, you both leave the conversation feeling valued, heard, seen, undiminished, whole and appreciative of the love and growth you experienced during your time together.
Highest and best is not that you need to convince him he’s making a mistake. Or that you need to slap him across the face and tell him he is an a**hole for breaking your heart. Or that you need him to come and talk to you and pick up his clothing that you have cut tiny holes into with a pair of scissors. Highest and best is never about reciting some magic words somebody told you would make him want you back, or using other forms of manipulation or revenge. Under no circumstances should you enter a conversation coming from an insecure, needy or vengeful place. If you’re creating your intention from that place, abort mission, don’t pass go and stay on Steps 1 and 2 until you anchor into a solid intention that serves the highest and best outcome for each of you.
STEP 3: EXTEND AN INVITATION
After you have gotten clear about your motivation and have written down your intention, the third step is to invite him into a conversation. The key word here is to invite. When you approach him, soften into your body, let your defenses go, and move into your feminine. Begin releasing an attachment to outcome and instead ground into your intention. Start with the context. Tell him how meaningful and important this relationship has been and let him know that you would like to understand his perspective on things and to share your perspective as well. If possible, avoid using the word “feelings” during the invitation as this will set off a red alert in the minds of many men who envision a session of unchecked sobbing, complaining, accusing, rehashing and making them into the bad guy. No person in their right mind would agree to such an encounter, so it’s a good thing that you have done all the groundwork and are emotionally ready to engage in a conversation that leaves you feeling at peace and whole. Keep in mind that this is an invitation and if he chooses not to accept you have to be ok with that. (If this is the case, don’t despair! Keep reading and I’ll tell you what to do in this scenario.)
WHERE TO HAVE “THE TALK”
If he does agree to meet, it’s probably best to arrange to meet in a discrete location where you will have privacy if and when the tears flow. If you do feel emotion come up while you’re talking, honor your emotion, but get reconnected to your intention. Reconnecting to your intention will help you avoid being sucked into an emotional breakdown. You’re only human and it makes sense that some sadness may come up, so remember to soothe your younger wounded child but have the conversation from your resilient, conscious, confident adult self. That said, please avoid meeting in the bedroom. Emotions, sex and closure conversations do not mix well. Unless you both mutually decide to resume the relationship under explicit terms that work for you both, do not have sex before, during, or after your talk. I make this recommendation not for moral reasons, but because having sex (particularly female orgasm) produces a cocktail of hormonal chemicals in the woman that causes her to further bond and fall deeper in love with her partner. There is no logical part of your brain that can override this neurological response; so please, beloved, take care of your heart and don’t risk sabotaging your experience of healthy relationship closure.
Go ahead and be tender if you are feeling called to. This was someone that you have had a meaningful, loving relationship with. If you are both feeling drawn to hug, honor what feels right. But do honor your sexual boundary, and your original intention for this closure conversation.
STEP 4: HOW TO OPEN THE DIALOGUE
Once you are face-to-face with your ex, I want you to thank him for meeting with you. (One thing you will never regret when you think back on this exchange in the future is the fact that you were gracious, classy, fully present and authentically expressed.)
You can start things off by reminding him of the context for this conversation and share with him your intention. For example: Thank you for agreeing to meet with me. Our relationship has been very important to me and I’ve loved you very much. I really wanted to make sure that although our breakup is disappointing, we give our ending the honor and respect it deserves. I realize I have a few things I need to share with you to walk away knowing I did my part in that.
Give yourself the gift of freely letting him see your soft, vulnerable side, anchoring into the fact that it is safe to be authentic and honest. If you have a burning question you need to ask, make sure you’ve thought of it in advance because now is your chance to ask it. Ask closed-ended, direct questions such as, “Did you love me?” or “Did I make you feel unloved?” as opposed to open-ended questions or statements that are subject to debate and interpretation such as, “I know you never loved me because if you had you would have…”
After you ask your question take a pause. Take a breath and let him respond. Allow him to finish a complete thought before resuming your next question or seeking further clarification. Don’t interrupt him or try to talk him out of his thoughts and feelings or get defensive about anything he shares. Ask him if there is anything he wants to ask you. As the conversation develops, remember to keep coming back to your intention for the best and highest outcome. If you feel yourself losing track of that, just take a pause, take a breath, and start over.
SOMETIMES LISTENING IS THE HARDEST PART
When we open ourselves up to the closure conversation, we must remind ourselves that it is a two-way street. Sometimes if we are wrapped up in our own painful experience, it’s hard to be empathetic to the experience that our partner is having. Sometimes, we feel so justified and sure of our interpretation of other people’s motives, we have difficulty really taking in that person’s point of view. But when we ground ourselves in our intention before the conversation even begins, we open up the door to real understanding, connection and communication. We can finally accept the answers we are given in a way that we were unable to in the past.
There may be some things that are hard to hear. For example, you can begin to understand that, yes, he did love you, and yet in his heart of hearts, he felt you were not compatible life partners. Or that for a reason (having nothing to do with you) he is not ready for the kind of relationship you deserve. And so with that understanding you begin to realize that your job here is not to undermine his knowing or change his mind, but to accept it with grace and to start the grieving and healing process.
Allowing him the dignity to have his own thoughts and feelings and accepting him as he is allows you to take back your power. He also feels seen, heard, witnessed and understood.
If your younger, wounded self is wanting him back and is feeling desperate to make that happen, you can gently tell her that it is repelling to try and convince someone to be with you. But don’t count on convincing her! Only the adult, resourceful part of you that has maturity and strength can accept his decision with grace. (And by the way, if he later regrets his decision and comes back wanting a second chance, your decision must also come from your mature resourceful self, not from your wounded little girl.)
WHAT IF HE REFUSES TO “GIVE” ME CLOSURE?
Ah, here’s where it gets tricky. Because sometimes, despite your best intentions, your ex is not willing to have that conversation with you. Or maybe you have your own reasons for not wanting to speak directly with him. In any case you are (thankfully) not out of luck. Because as we established at the beginning of this article, closure is not an event (such as a conversation), but a feeling you get to experience. And feelings are things we experience all the time – with or without the direct participation of others. So, in order to experience closure when he is unavailable or absent, you have to decide whether or not you are going to allow yourself that experience. If the answer is yes, I want you to go through steps 1 and 2 as outlined above. When it comes to step 3 (the face-to-face conversation), I want you to do the following:
Find a quiet, private space where you will be undisturbed for several hours. Have some writing paper, your journal and some tissues handy.
Close your eyes and begin to breath deeply, noticing your breath. Notice the chatter of your mind, and as you do so, keep bringing your attention back to your breath… to the rise and fall of your chest.
Once your mind begins to quiet, picture your ex-in front of you. Notice any emotions that begin to be activated as you imagine him there. Don’t suppress your emotions, let them flow, rise and fall and just do their thing. Once you begin to feel yourself settle, I want you to think of all the questions you have, and all the feelings you need to express.
You can either write these things down in the form of a letter or speak them aloud.
Open your eyes and begin to have a conversation with him. Picture him sitting across from you. No one is present so don’t feel self-conscious about talking out loud. Tell him how you feel about his inability or unwillingness to have a face-to-face conversation with you if it bothers you. Share with him what your intention is for having this “energetic” conversation, and what you hope the both of you will receive as a result of your commitment to experiencing closure.
After you have expressed your emotions, needs, and desires to him, close your eyes and begin opening yourself to a higher power, or whatever thought helps anchor you into love, possibility and healing. Open yourself up to the power of your own mind and heart to heal itself. Notice when you are moving into shaming or blaming your ex (or yourself) and begin to be willing to let that go. Don’t force it to go, just see if you can be willing to let it go and notice how the shape and tone of your feelings and emotions morph. If you feel angry, talk to your higher power and say, “I’m so damn pissed off!! I can’t stop being angry!” Own your emotions. Take a pause when you need to. Have a sip of water when you need to. And then begin to invite the experience of feeling complete and at peace into your body. If you have written this in the form of a letter, it can be very powerful to now burn the letter (safely). Don’t force it, just be available to it and invite it into the sanctuary of your heart and body. When you are ready, open your journal and write down any thoughts that come to you from having this experience.
STILL FEELING SALTY? FORGIVENESS IS THE BEST REVENGE
Regardless of how you embark upon closure, the most liberating step in the process is moving into a place of acceptance and forgiveness. Sometimes we think forgiving someone who behaved badly (or just contrary to our wishes) is a sign of weakness. Sometimes we are resistant because we think we are letting that person “off the hook”. Nothing could be further from the truth. By forgiving we are letting ourselves off the hook.
Forgiveness is a gift we give to ourselves. When we refuse to forgive, we are unconsciously choosing to offer our body temples up as living hosts to the hurt, abuse, and pain we suffered in the past. And if we become conscious that we are doing it, we are actually self-abusing. How much better it is to release ourselves from the wounds of the past by forgiving our partner for the unconscious (and conscious) ways in which he hurt us. And forgiving ourselves for the unconscious and conscious ways in which we hurt him. As you bring the forgiveness part of the closure experience to an end, I want you to say a private prayer in your mind. “I release you and I set you free to experience your highest good. And I release myself and I set myself free to experience my highest good.” If you have written the release letter, you can say this prayer as you physically release the ashes.
STEP 5: INTERRUPT THE PATTERN
Relationships are goldmines for learning life’s biggest lessons. So during Step 4, I want you to uncover all the lessons that this man and this relationship had to teach you. What did you learn about yourself? Where do you see an opportunity to grow? Perhaps you skipped over your knowing or didn’t explicitly state your needs? Maybe you didn’t stretch yourself to your highest expression of love, understanding and forgiveness? Did you choose the habit of happiness? Did you regularly express appreciation and affection? Did you have enough fun?
As you begin to understand more and more about yourself and your ways of relating, move into a place of love, acceptance, and accountability for your actions. Recognize that if you knew better at the time, you would have done it differently. What we are doing here is harvesting the learning. You don’t beat yourself up. And now that you have learned the lessons that this relationship had to teach you, you can be confident that you will not repeat the pattern in a future relationship.
STEP 6: CELEBRATE YOUR SUCCESS
The 6th and final step in the closure process is to celebrate. Yep, I just said to celebrate. Why? Because if you’re going to have to harvest all the hard won lessons you earned in this relationship, I want you to take the time to acknowledge all the wonderful ways you showed up too. Maybe this was the first man you allowed yourself to open up to fully. That is a sign of a healthy, securely attached woman and I want you to celebrate it. Maybe this was the first relationship where you honored your sexual needs or set boundaries in a way that you hadn’t before. This is the mark of fully, grown-ass woman and something worth celebrating. So do it now, you magnificent, delectable creature!
MOVING INTO POSSIBILITY
One of the most delicious outcomes of healthy closure is that you are emotionally, psychologically, mentally, and physically freed up to experience the next beautiful chapter of your life.
If you’re beginning to feel like this relationship closure business is too much work for you, I want you to reassess. Sure closure sounded great when you thought it had to do with dumping your sorrow and anger out on your ex. Or maybe closure sounded good because you thought it meant you could strong-arm your ex into taking you back. If that was initially your goal I understand, but you were thinking too small. Because healthy relationship closures offers a real prize: freedom from pent up sadness, anger, resentment, expectations, hurt and anxiety. Finally you get to a place of self-love, lightness, playfulness and joy. You. Can. Breathe. You end up feeling more secure, more safe, more alive, and more open to receiving the love and devotion of a sexy, prosperous, conscious man who thrills at the prospect of protecting, providing and professing his love for you.
You deserve to be cherished and adored and now you’ve opened up the space for that to happen.
Welcome to your wonderful new beginning.
Do you have a question or need extra support around this topic? If so, click here to download my free Sexual Attraction Report.