I’m the kind of person who gets attached very quickly, falling head over heels. However this has not been a huge issue in the early stages of any of my four long-term relationships as the feeling has always been mutual. The problem comes when those relationships break down and come to an end: I have never been able to cope.
Following my most recent split with my wife, I have recognised the importance of getting closure after a break up. However, this realisation relates not to this break up but my previous one nearly 4 years ago. Not having closure from my previous relationship has stayed with me all these years, something that I have only become aware of since the separation from my wife two weeks ago.
About my previous relationship and break-up in 2010
I met my last girlfriend, who I’ll call “H”, back in 2008 after she joined the company I worked for. We worked together for a little over a year before there was anything more and she had a boyfriend who she lived with. We became best friends and spent a lot of time together outside of work, but there was nothing more between us until 2009 when we shared a drunken kiss completely out of the blue. It wasn’t me who instigated the whole thing but her, and it gradually escalated into a secret relationship.
Of course it was wrong, as H was still with her boyfriend in a failing relationship where she wasn’t happy. After a couple of months she told her boyfriend it was over and he moved away. We were then together in earnest, although it took several months before before our friends and colleagues knew.
We had a really happy, healthy relationship and social life and I spent so much of my time at her flat that we practically lived together. I was much thinner, healthier and happy; truly happy, and I felt she was too.
Around a year later in the Summer of 2012, after a happy and comfortable relationship, H decided that she wanted to move home to Jersey to be with her parents. I will never know the true reasons for her decision, but the whole process moved really quickly. From first making the decision (or at least making me aware of it) to moving home took less than a month. And then she was gone.
For the first few weeks, we spoke regularly via Facebook message and occasionally on the phone. As expected, I had good days and bad days and for the most part she was there to talk to. This even continued when I first met my wife (the one from whom I’ve recently separated) and we happily discussed our dates and how good it was that I was moving on.
But one day, quite suddenly, the communication stopped. It wasn’t the end of the world at the time as I was happy with my new girlfriend and life was getting better, but it was still sad and disheartening that H didn’t want anything to do with me any more, after we had been such good friends for so long. I spoke with my new girlfriend about it and she was understanding and felt that H was being unfair to cut me out like that. But life went on and for a very long time it was great.
Around six months ago, things in my marriage took a turn for the worst and our relationship really started to break down. We fought a lot and things just weren’t the way they used to be. And it was then that H came back into my mind, how our breakup all those years before had never really healed.
Why closure is so important
I’ve realised that closure after a breakup is vital for healthy future relationships, and without moving on effectively from one relationship you cannot always have a long-term healthy relationship following.
The way in which H left and the broken communication in the months following has stayed with me all these years, and I wasn’t even truly aware of it until recently.
The most important thing that was missing for me following losing H was the “why”. Why had she really left, in the middle of what felt like a happy, stable relationship? Why had she kept me close as a friend for so long before cutting me out completely? Was it something I’d done? Could I or should I have done something differently?
Things to consider when breaking up
To minimise the stress and disappointment following a breakup, try and consider the following and make sure that both parties have the answers they need to move on:
- What are the true reasons for the breakup? Has one or both of your fallen out of love? Is there someone else? Understanding the reasons for the breakup can help both parties realise that it’s for the best and ultimately move on.
- Are you able to stay friends or do you both need to part company completed? If one person wants something that the other doesn’t, it’s important that you both know where you stand and why.
- What can you learn or do differently in future? Were there problems in your relationship that you didn’t spot? Perhaps there was a breakdown of communication that you can learn from for the future.
Breakups suck, but I know that moving forward I’m going to do my best to get closure following any future relationship breakups. Although of course, I’m secretly hoping that there will be no more and that next time will be “the one”!