The end of a relationship is hard enough, but when one ends without any closure on your part, it can be horrific.
It’s so hard not knowing why someone chose to end things with you.
You can torture yourself trying to figure it out.
Did they cheat?
Did they ever really love you?
Will anyone else really love you if there’s something so wrong with you that your ex won’t even tell you?
If you’re nodding along to this, you’re spiralling and you need to ground yourself. This advice should help…
1. Reach out.
Normally, we’d recommend steering clear of contacting your now ex-partner after a breakup, but sometimes you just have to know.
A simple, honest message should work: “Hey, I’m sorry to message you, but I need some closure. I’m not asking you to get back together, but I need to know why you ended it.”
Nothing too needy and definitely don’t double-text!
It’s okay to admit that you’re hurting and it’s okay to want to be given some clarity.
We can’t promise they’ll respond, but asking is the first thing to try – and the only one on this list that involves speaking to your ex, you’ll be glad to know.
2. Immerse yourself in newness.
Closure is what we need to move on from a situation, so a lack of closure can make it feel impossible to move forwards.
In this case, you need to force a shift.
That means embracing the future and really throwing yourself into it. The more you can change things around you, the more your life will feel new and different.
Change your routine, your setting, your activities and you won’t feel so stuck on the old, familiar life that involved your ex.
3. Get busy.
There’s little worse than sitting around feeling sorry for yourself (although that is a necessary part of healing sometimes), and it almost always leads to overthinking.
Having too much time to dwell and self-indulge in a pity party can only last so long, so you need to try to force yourself into being busy.
A lack of closure can only exacerbate the grief-like feelings you experience after a breakup, and keeping your mind and body active can help you deal with them.
Exercising will give your mind a big rush of endorphins – hormones that make you feel good – and will help your mind focus on something other than how horrible it feels to be newly single.
4. Get out there.
Now, this one takes some time and really shouldn’t be rushed, but dating again can be a good way to get over someone.
It’s both the best and worst advice out there, so do with it what you will!
Some of us need to physically move on and get ourselves excited about someone new in order to forget about someone old.
Some of us need time to process and heal, and dating someone new would be a total, breakdown-filled disaster.
See how you feel and ask whether you need a distraction or you just need to sit and deal with your feelings for a bit longer.
5. Do something new.
You need to get more of a life for yourself and stop dwelling on how things were with your ex. Harsh, but it’s true – and there’s no love like tough love.
Doing something new will force you out of the comfort zone that you’ve created and will make you do things that don’t relate to your ex.
It’ll also hugely boost your confidence, knowing that you’re competent and capable enough to do things on your own.
That might sound weird, given that you’re an adult, but it can be so easy to get into the habit of relying on your partner and doing things with them.
Think about how long it’s been since you did something truly on your own. Exactly. Now get out there and smash it.
6. Update your routine.
Stop going to places that remind you of your ex!
There’s a certain kind of torture that involves completely crushing your soul and getting that horrible gut-punch feeling. It mostly involves stalking your ex on Instagram and feeling sick every time you see his face – even though you knew you would.
It’s so silly and yet so many of us do it and feel surprised that we feel rubbish afterwards.
You need to find ways to live that don’t involve your ex – that means no internet-stalking, and no going to your local pub/bar and awkwardly hoping you run into him (but also being terrified you might run into him).
The more you dwell on the life you had and relive your time together (but alone), the longer it’ll take you to move on.
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7. Remove them from your life.
Make some physical changes to shift the mood if you’re struggling to move on without closure.
Get rid of his clothes and anything else he left in your house. Delete photos of him – if this is too hard, email them all to yourself and keep them in a folder you don’t look at.
It might seem weird, but it worked for me – I was too sad to accept that it was over, but I knew I would just keep going through old photos. I didn’t want to delete them as that felt like actually accepting we were no longer together, so I kept them safe on my computer rather than my phone.
I did the same with text and WhatsApp messages – you can export conversations, save them somewhere you won’t look at them and have a nice clean phone free of things that might pop up and give you that horrible gut-punch feeling.
It’s not exactly ‘the end,’ so you don’t need to get really worked up over it, they’re all there if you do ever need or want to look back at them. But you won’t have triggers on your phone that will inevitably upset you.
Plus, I can pretty much guarantee that you’ll never open that folder anyway…
8. Talk it out.
Chat to close family and friends and get it all out.
Talking is a huge part of processing how you feel, and it’s good to let out your emotions and thoughts.
For the first few weeks, you’ll be going over the same thing – again and again.
Your friends will accept that you’re just processing, so don’t feel guilty about speaking to them about your feelings! That’s what they’re there for and they will want to help you.
It’s good to talk about things that make you feel bad, even if they’re embarrassing.
Your loved ones will be able to talk you through it, reassure you that you didn’t do anything wrong and will help you get over it.
They’ll also be there to take you on a girls’ night when you’re ready to have fun again!
9. Acknowledge that you may need help.
This is a tricky one as we’re not suggesting your doctor is there to help you get over an ex – but it is important to seek help if you’re really struggling.
It may seem dramatic and ‘pathetic,’ but you need to respect your feelings and get help when you need it.
Some people find it really difficult to deal with breakups, and they can’t sleep or eat properly.
That is a natural, human response to feeling stressed and it’s nothing to be ashamed of. Some of us have difficulties in general, and breakups and stressful events can trigger them and worsen them.
It may be that you feel quite anxious in normal life and that a breakup pushes you over the edge to a nervous breakdown, or to paranoia or depression.
This can be so hard to cope with, especially when the one person who you want to comfort you is no longer in your life.
This is when it’s time to reach out and get help – you need to be able to sleep and eat, you need to be able to keep going to work and have a social life – and you deserve to.
Getting help is a big step and is maybe long overdue if you’ve had undercurrents of anxiety and depression for a while – congratulate yourself for doing your best and for accepting that you need extra support.
There is no shame in needing, or wanting, help.
10. Limit yourself.
As mentioned above, talking it out is a great way to process your feelings and move on from a relationship without closure.
That being said, there comes a time when you need to stop talking it out. There’s a fine line between processing and obsessing, so be mindful of how much you’re talking about your ex – how often, for how long, and how many people you send the same text to when you feel sad.
I used to send the same, weepy text to about 8 people and then have 8 separate conversations about how rubbish I felt. Some would reply straight away and some would reply after a few hours, so the whole thing was really dragged out.
Chat to one person about one thought or feeling and.then.stop.
Don’t make it worse for yourself and try to avoid getting into the habit of obsessing, or getting home and crying as soon as you walk through the door. It may be helpful at first if you’ve been bottling it up at work, but unhealthy when it becomes a habit rather than something that just happens.
11. Accept that it takes time.
The most important thing here is to accept that it will take time. You can fill your days as much as you want to and spend all your time on tinder, but you need to accept that there will still be times where you feel rubbish.
This is completely normal at the end of anything – relationship, friendship, leaving your job, even!
It’s a kind of grief and it’s annoying to hear, but time does heal, even if it takes a little longer when you don’t have the proper closure you need.
Give yourself a break and don’t punish yourself for getting upset still.
You will be okay again, and you will find someone else, but you also need to give yourself some space and acknowledge that your heart won’t be fixed overnight.