Have a problem with love or life in general? Send Ogonna your questions at firstname.lastname@example.org and get them answered here in her column. You can also tweet her at @askogonna.
Reader: How do you get closure from a relationship? Is it even necessary to move on with new relationships?
Ogonna: I think closure is an underrated necessity of moving on with one’s future. Many people think that they can quit a relationship so easily and so quickly, but that’s almost never the case. If it took a while to build trust and create a relationship, why do we think we can get over it so fast?
If I understand your question correctly, I think you’re asking if starting a new relationship will help you get over your past one. If you’re not in a place where you’re in control of your emotions and feel confident moving on, maybe it’s not the best time. It wouldn’t be fair to you, your ex-lover, or your future beau if there’s a mess of emotions that still need to be sorted out. This might cause you to compare the two relationships or even long for your old one. Channel Season One of “Friends,” where Ross’s many failed relationships stem from his lingering feelings for his ex-wife who ends up preferring women. He knows she will never be into him that way, but continues to pine after her.
I’m not saying you will always be over every emotional connection with your significant other, and I don’t think that you should never move on. But you have to give yourself time to be okay with the fact that you two are not together anymore. If that means not dating for a few weeks, let it be.
We learn a lot about ourselves when we’re in a relationship, so we need to give ourselves just time to learn from the breakup process as well. Even if you didn’t technically break up with someone because you were never really dating, those feelings of heartbreak are still very real and should be dealt with in an intentional manner. You can learn a lot about your personal healing process to be prepared for the next time, because unfortunately, there might be a next time.
Everyone gets closure differently, but there are some basic steps I think we can all relate to. One of these is giving yourself allotted time to cave in to your emotions. By this, I don’t mean plan out a set number of days that you’ll be in “mourning,” but rather allow yourself the opportunity to be sad and hurt and angry for more than one day instead of brushing it off. Often times, we think getting over someone is as easy as ripping off a bandage, but sometimes that causes the wound to hurt even more.
For some, having that final talk is either worthwhile or detrimental to your emotional wellbeing. If both ends are willing to see each other and leave things in a solid state of mutual understanding, I say hash things out. But if one side has to push for it, it’s probably better left unsaid. Alongside that talk comes returning items. Movies always have the gentleman saying, “No, you keep that lettermen jacket as a memory of what once was.” But reality says, “I want it back.” Decide if smelling their scent on that sweatshirt will bring smiles or tears, and go from there.
Give yourself a way to not see the person for a while. This may be especially hard in college where, even on as large of a campus as ours, we still run into those people we don’t want to see way too often. But if you know your ex-heartthrob is working at a certain café on Saturdays…don’t go to that café on Saturdays. I don’t think you should adjust your entire schedule or life around this person, but if you know seeing them will upset you, then simply look the other way. Grab your coffee at the Berry Café instead of Terra Byte once a week. No biggie.
Another big thing is to surround yourself with the people who make you happy. A lot of times, being in a relationship can cause us to limit the time we spend with friends or family. Find a way to spend time with people who will let you sulk for a bit, but will also lift you up and make you feel special and celebrated. The people who can bring a smile to your face and ice cream to your belly are worth spending time and energy on.