Most of us live with the conviction that we are entitled to know ‘why’. It seems our curious minds refuse to settle simply for the ‘what’, and instead push ahead in search of motive and reason. This privilege, which usually starts as a plea but finds its crescendo in a demand, becomes accentuated in the midst of a break-up.
Rarely do romantic relationships end in consensus; one-half of the couple decides he or she needs greener pastures, which usually comes as a surprise to the other half. And the curb kicked recipient is sent careening off a cliff in search of clarification. “Why are you doing this?”
While a natural reaction from a creature with a need for things to make sense, our hunt for too many answers can unwittingly set us up for even more suffering.
All human insecurity stems from rejection. Think about that statement for a moment. A lifetime of scars left by the desertion and disappointment of family, friends, and former lovers all blend to create a cocktail of self-doubt leaving a perpetual hangover. The promises made to never let that happen again lead to a trigger-happy defense anytime we sense another threat of good-bye.
One only needs to look at his or her life for evidence of this fact. Lights explode and flags wave as our censors detect the missiles of incoming heartbreak and all of those memories of former hurts, repressed in the comfort of our current relationship, suddenly rush back with fresh mercilessness. The Band-Aids are torn off. Because the feelings of rejection never completely heal; having one’s heart ripped from the chest can’t be mended with merlot and casual sex.
At it’s basic level a break-up is one person telling another you’re no longer “worthy”, “ adequate”, and “lovable”. Anyone, when faced with those accusations, impulsively wants to defend themselves. The purpose of which becomes twofold; prove they’re wrong and we’re right.
“I don’t work all the time.”
“I’m always here for you.”
“We had sex last week.”
“You’ll never find someone else like me.”
In truth the need to know ‘why’ is important so I can convince myself the reasons you’re breaking up with me are petty, self-centered, and superficial which makes me the victim in all of it. This lets me to believe it’s all your fault, making it easier to feel that I’m better off without you and that I deserve someone who will appreciate me more. ‘I’m right, you’re wrong.’
Not long after my divorce I dated a woman for a little over a year. Her prior marriage ended from an affair with a man who methodically broke her heart after several years together. She was devastated, confused, and angry. Completely understandable, except by the time we met their relationship had been over for five years. She had yet to settle with the reasons he gave for wanting to end what they had and she continued to believe he owed her a ‘better explanation’. During our relationship she could never articulate why she randomly stalked him on the internet, would ask old friends about him, or bash any girlfriend he might be seeing; all she could say was how she hadn’t received closure.
]To me, ‘closure’ is mere psychobabble serving as a label for why people can’t get over someone. I’ve always noticed how those who speak of needing closure are usually the ones broken-up with; and that it’s always expressed in the form of a debt that needs repaying, “he owes me a better explanation!”. The thing I find with people crying out for ‘closure’, much like that ex, isn’t a misunderstanding of the reasons for the break up – they just don’t agree with them. The ‘why’ isn’t justified to their liking.
Have you ever met someone who still isn’t over a relationship even though it’s been ample time? They just can’t seem to move on with their life and instead remain stuck in the past? I’ve found that when I look beyond the pity I may feel for them I find someone still wrestling with anger at how the relationship ended, bitterness that the other person has moved on, and resentment at the explanation given for the good bye. And while they usually play nice in public, each of these emotions are aimed at one target, because that person has yet to provide them with closure. The relationship tab is still open.
We are responsible for our own closure in a failed relationship; it isn’t an account that other person is required to settle on our behalf. They rationalized why the relationship should end for themselves, so why do we feel it’s their responsibility to do the same for us? I think pity and greed leads to an often ignored entitlement mentality which says that since the other person wanted the breakup they now bear the burden of providing me with the closure I need so I can get on with my life. In other words we want the break up to be on our terms letting us feel that we’re right. But when that doesn’t happen closure usually becomes the issue.
It’s been said that hello’s last five seconds and good-byes take a lifetime, but I believe that’s only if we make it that way.