How to Mourn Break Ups That Never Gave You Closure

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I’ve been thinking a lot about my exes, recently.

It’s probably got a lot to do with the fact that we’re currently in lockdown in Melbourne, so I have lots of downtime to reflect and contemplate the past.

I find looking back on things to be a great learning exercise, especially in my twenties, because I change so much in a short amount of time. Two years ago, my life looked completely different and I was a pretty different person to who I am today.

In the last two years, I’ve found myself in love, which led to a monogamous relationship with a partner who I now live with and can imagine marrying one day. the relationship has seen me leave the share house life, work in a job that I actually want to be my career and has challenged my relationship with alcohol and my ‘bad influence’ party friends.

Basically, things change really quickly in your twenties, so it’s nice to catch-up with yourself every now and then and just reflect on things you’ve loved, lost, f**ked up and succeeded at. So yeah, I’ve been thinking about a few of my exes. Two of them, to be exact.

One is my first ever love. I loved him in an unhealthy, obsessive way. I knew that it would never be forever but I desperately didn’t want it to end. Our relationship was so intoxicating that when I think back on it, I can’t imagine feeling that way about someone ever again. It freaks me out because a) I don’t want to feel like that ever again but b) I worry that those feelings were “true love” in which case, nothing since has been.

It’s a little dramatic (and a little untrue), I know, but he was my first love and when he left, it was too painful to properly mourn.

The second is a girl I fell in love with really fast but never got to properly love. We met at the wrong time. She wanted things from me that I couldn’t give to her, but we couldn’t let each other go. I know that she’s struggling right now and I often think of reaching out, but things ended between us on a really bad note.

It seems the relationships that never had an official end are the hardest to move past, no matter how many years go by.

It’s not that the relationships didn’t end – they did, otherwise we’d still be in them – but they ended without closure, without a mutual understanding, without a conversation that unpacks why we still love each other but we’re not staying together. You have to come up with these answers for yourself, which means a lot of filling in the gaps.

I probably won’t ever have proper closure for these relationships, but I know that I’ll continue to relish in the memories, pain and love for years to come. I’m okay with that now, but it’s been a journey.

So, as I’ve had lots of recent experience in this department, I’ve got three tips for how to mourn a relationship that never gave you closure.

Allow Yourself to Reminisce

Often, it can feel as though remembering a past relationship is a step backwards or a sign that you’re not over it. I don’t think that’s the case. It’s really important to allow yourself to indulge in your memories because they mean something to you and they’re nice to go back to. You can learn a lot about yourself when reflecting on past experiences. If you’re feeling brave, I’d even recommend talking to a therapist about some of these relationships. Relationships are important moments in our lives and they deserve a place in your memory.

Don’t Forget the Negative

You fell in love with them for a reason. Or even if you weren’t in love, they brought something into your life that you wanted, at the time. There are almost always positive aspects to our past relationship, but it’s the negative parts we tend to easily forget. I’m not saying that dwelling on negative things from the past is the way forward, I just think that it’s important to be realistic with your memories. Remembering the negative parts of your relationship will remind you that you weren’t right for each other. Sometimes to heal from a relationship, you need to relive the hurt and marinate in those yuck feelings for a bit.

Talk to a Mutual Friend

Talking about things out loud is a great way to validate your emotions and move forward. Talk about your past relationship with a friend that was with you through it, and ask them any questions you might have about moments in the relationship that still confuse you. You’d be surprised by the closure you can achieve in conversations with others.

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