Why We Don’t Need “Resolution” After a Breakup

Marcia Sirota
4 min readNov 19, 2021

We crave resolution when a relationship ends badly

So often, we crave resolution — otherwise known as “closure” — after a breakup, and then we become frustrated when we can’t achieve it. In my mind, this type of resolution is usually impossible and generally unnecessary.

We seek resolution because we want to be okay after a relationship didn’t go the way we hoped. We feel the need to understand what happened, or to hear the other person apologize for their actions.

The truth is that we don’t need to understand why the other person did what they did. Clarifying their motivations doesn’t change anything for us. More insight in this respect is not helpful at all.

Let’s say we discover that the other person dumped us because they didn’t find us sufficiently attractive or interesting as a partner. We don’t need to hear that. It doesn’t contribute to our emotional well-being.

Let’s say that the other person ghosted us because they found someone else who they liked better. Again, this information isn’t going to contribute to our overall feelings of happiness and inner peace.

Man leaving woman, needing resolution
Source: pexels.com

Post-break-up, critical feedback could make us feel worse

Sometimes, it’s helpful to hear critical feedback in order to improve our relationship behaviours, but sometimes, the only thing the negative comments accomplish is to bring us down.

There are other ways to explore any dysfunctional relationship behaviours we might be exhibiting — such as in therapy — and we don’t always need to make ourselves so vulnerable by allowing the person who left us to go on and on about all the ways they found fault in us.

What we need to understand is that we can be okay when things don’t work out in a relationship. We can’t always understand why people do what they do, but we don’t really need to. And guess what? A lot of the time, the other person doesn’t understand what’s driving their behaviour, either.

Often, the other person wouldn’t be able to explain their actions because their unconscious mind has been driving their relationship choices. Asking them for an explanation would be an exercise in futility.

Some people will incorrectly attribute their behaviour. They might blame us for something we did when really, it was all about them. Or they might explain why they did something and be completely wrong because they’re not in touch with their underlying motivations. That would only serve to confuse us and hurt us more.

Burning a goodbye letter, feedback
Source: Dreamstime.com

Apologies are hard to come by and not really helpful

As for an apology, that won’t heal our wounds. We can wait forever for someone to apologize and suffer the whole time for no good reason.

Some people refuse to take responsibility for their actions and wouldn’t dream of saying “I’m sorry.” Some are in denial and would never acknowledge to themselves what they did — which would then make it impossible for them to admit it to us.

Some people will say that they’re sorry, and then we find that the apology hasn’t helped one bit. That’s because our healing — fortunately — doesn’t depend on whether or not the other person expresses remorse.

We don’t need an apology in order to get closure and to heal. We need to do our inner work to get over the hurt and loss of an unsuccessful relationship.

man and woman admitting defeat, apologizing
Source: Pexels.com

“Resolution” will not actually make anything better

We crave resolution because we erroneously assume that this will make things better. In fact, feeling better after a break-up is only achieved by learning — with self-compassion — from our mistakes, forgiving ourselves for where we went wrong, grieving our losses, and comforting ourselves by pursuing (other) positive relationships and activities.

Resolution, aka “closure,” is rarely available and almost never helpful. Instead of resolution — which depends on the other person giving us something we think we need — we can pursue learning and healing, which we are fully responsible for. We don’t need the other person to do anything in order for us to heal after a relationship ends, and that’s delightfully freeing and empowering.

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Marcia Sirota

Writer, speaker, MD, and author of the Short & Sweet Guides to Life book series