Stop using the C-word

Most people will be familiar with the term ‘closure’.  I think Urban Dictionary sums it up pretty well:

Closure

Whilst Definitions 3, 5 and 6 are perhaps a little unkind, I will agree wholeheartedly with the rest of them.  And I would also add that ‘closure’, in reality, is basically non-existent.

Relationships will end for any number of reasons, and unless you’re in the rare situation where the desire to end the relationship is entirely mutual, there will be one person who is left confused and hurt.  While the person who instigates the break-up might think that they have given valid and plausible reasons for wanting to become a lone wolf once more, the person being ditched is only going to have numerous questions and will be left with lists of what-ifs and whys.  This is where the need for closure comes in.  Let me tell you now – you’re not going to get it.  A bit harsh?  Maybe, but let me explain.

In the last couple of years, I’ve been what I would term as involved with (i.e. exclusively dating/in a relationship with) a handful of men, and for the most part it’s been the guy who has instigated the break-up.  Pretty much all of them have been variations of the ‘I just don’t want to be in a relationship’ theme, but each time I’ve been denied the opportunity to have a satisfactory conversation where all of my questions (some rational, some not) are answered.  And I get it – in the times where I’ve been the one doing the breaking-up, I haven’t exactly gone into a monologue explaining all of my thoughts and feelings on the matter – you want to get it over and done with as quickly as possible!  So having been on both sides of the fence, I think I can say with confidence that you’re not going to get closure, and the notion of a ‘clean break’ is equally as abstract.

There’s no question that the person being dumped will be the most hurt, the most angry, and the most determined to find some sort of reasoning behind the break-up.  This has certainly been the case for me in recent years.  To me, a guy simply changing his mind about his relationship status wasn’t good enough – there had to be a CAUSE or a REASON.  Did he meet someone else?  Did he feel that way even when he invited me to spend the weekend with his parents?  Have his guy mates convinced him that having a girlfriend makes him less of a lad?  But, short of turning up on various doorsteps and demanding an explanation (NB never do this), these questions will forever go unanswered.  And this is where Definition 5 is most pertinent – claiming a need for closure is basically another way of saying that you haven’t accepted that the relationship is over.  Think about it – no one who is over their ex will whine ‘but I just need closure!’.  I’m as guilty of this as anyone else, but now I’m beginning to see the error of my ways.

Break-ups are annoying at best, heart-breaking and awful at worst.  I know I’m not the only one who has lost weeks or months of their life to moping, crying, and avoiding rom-coms at all cost.  But all of this has taught me a valuable lesson: the sooner you accept that the relationship is over, and that your ex isn’t going to suddenly have a change of heart and beg you to take them back, the sooner you will start to feel better.  Discourage use of the C-word, take the moral high road, and maybe we’ll all stop feeling like we’re missing something that we’re actually better off without.

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And the best policy is…?

No doubt about it, dating has been an education in all sorts of ways, and one particular lesson that comes to light again and again is how to tell someone that you’re no longer interested.  This will come about because of one of two reasons:

  1. You’ve been on one or two dates, there’s nothing particularly wrong with the guy (at least, most of the time…), but there’s a bit of a chemistry fail and you don’t find yourself wanting to see him again.
  2. He, for unknown reasons, decides that seeing you again isn’t the best way to spend his time.

Either way, fair enough.  But how to communicate this lack of interest to the other person?

In my experience, the age-old just-stop-replying-to-messages-and-hope-they-get-the-hint tactic has been pretty effective, if not a rather annoying one.  And yes I’ve been on both the receiving and giving end.  I’ll admit it’s a rather cowardly way out of a tricky situation, and can leave you or the guy wondering for weeks about what happened, what did I do wrong etc.  Perhaps it depends on how many dates you’ve been on…

  • One date: not really much to worry about there and if he thinks it wasn’t great then the girl almost definitely thinks the same.
  • Two dates: a slight kick in the teeth but hey at least you haven’t wasted too much time/energy/money.
  • Anything beyond that: heellooooo a little explanation wouldn’t go amiss here!

I know I’m not the only girl who needs some sort of closure, and being a practical type of person I would rather know what went wrong so I can make appropriate efforts to not repeat the same mistake in the future.

Then there’s the honesty tactic, otherwise known as the ‘it was great to meet you but I think it’s best if we call it a day/just stay friends’ approach.  I’ve only ever been on the giving end of this, and it’s been met with varied reactions.  On the whole, most of the replies I’ve received have been along the lines of ‘ok no worries it was nice to talk to you best of luck’.  After all, what can you really say to someone who just isn’t interested in seeing you again?  Then there have been the slightly bitter ones: ‘so glad I wasted a Friday night with you’ or similar.  I get it, the male ego is a fragile thing.  Admittedly, there might be slightly more diplomatic ways of getting one’s message across, but overall you’re still saying the same thing, no matter how much you sugar-coat it.

Ultimately, there isn’t really a way of winning here.  Silence is met with confusion, honesty is met with resentment.  Personally, I lean towards Option B.  I can understand that telling someone outright that you’re not keen on the idea of a second date can be a tad brutal, but at the end of the day isn’t it saving everyone an awful lot of time and emotional energy?

Last autumn I was dating a guy for a couple of months and all seemed to be going well until he suddenly just stopped replying to text messages.  Whilst I wasn’t particularly upset by this, it did leaving me questioning my words and actions for a few weeks afterwards.  Was it something I said or did?  Was it the fact that I was a fair bit younger?  Did he meet someone else?  I guess I’ll never know.  What I do know is that I would have appreciated some sort of explanation behind his abrupt disappearance, no matter how hurtful it might have been.  In the long run, aren’t we better off knowing these things and learning and growing as people as a result?

Guys, you should all know by know that nearly every girl goes in for a bit of self-flagellation in these kinds of situations.  So do us all a favour: grow some cojones, and just be honest.  Seriously, it will reduce the rate of drunk texts and tearful phone calls by a huge proportion.

honesty