How to Move on After a Long Term Relationship Without Closure

Taking solo time to reflect and have new adventures will help you heal.
... Ryan McVay/Photodisc/Getty Images

If a breakup came out of the blue, your ex failing to provide an explanation for ending things, you may feel confused on top of hurt and disoriented. When you understand the steps to healing, though, you can stop focusing on the missing answers and instead move on to rewarding personal pursuits. Be patient with yourself as you sift through and make peace with your own emotions.

1 Understand Your Own Resistance

You may feel a lack of closure in part because of your own feelings of resistance. People are naturally disinclined to give up a familiar relationship, according to “Close Relationships and Quality of Life,” by social psychologist David G. Myers, published in the book “Well-Being: Foundations of Hedonic Psychology.” Knowing that resistance toward moving on is a natural, common phenomenon might help you keep in mind that discomfort as a newly single person does not signal you should try getting back together with your ex or that you will not eventually be able to readjust.

2 Don't Ask Your Ex

It may seem that the simplest route to getting the answers you want and moving on is to engage in further discussion with your ex. However, an ex who was unable or unwilling to provide a satisfying explanation at the time of the breakup is unlikely to furnish one after time goes by. Not only is it doubtful that you will receive an answer that quenches your confusion, but contacting your ex so soon can create further discomfort and tension between you. Try to accept that regardless of the exact motivation, the relationship has reached its end.

3 Forget Closure

It's easy to get hung up on the idea that closure will somehow help you leave behind the pain you've experienced as a result of your breakup. However, closure itself is an evasive quality that does not have a widely agreed upon definition and also has no special power, according to Nancy Berns, Drake University associate professor of sociology, in her "Psychology Today" article “Bad Breakup? How to Get Beyond Closure.” You will be better served by addressing your pain and openly grieving for your lost partnership than by hoping for a single occurrence or moment that will sweep the relationship from your heart.

4 Take Care of Yourself

While seeking a single perfect answer will not help you heal from the blow you've been dealt, expressing your feelings and taking care of your own needs will. Writing down your feelings can help you make sense of the conflicting emotions you're experiencing at this point, according to a study by researchers from Columbia University and Alliant International University, published in Psychology & Health Journal. You can also help yourself by focusing on new experiences you wanted to try, but never got around to while still in your relationship, spending time with friends and taking personal time to get reacquainted with yourself as a single individual.

Jae Kemp has been writing and editing professionally since 2010. In addition to reviewing novels, memoirs and psychology/self-help books for major review services, Kemp has served as a copywriter, commercial and creative editor, and staff article writer.