Closing The Door On Closure



Throughout our lives, we’ve all likely had a shared experience of having a certain person (or maybe a few) who have wronged us, cheated on us or betrayed our trust in ways that render us different people.

The very thought of that person’s name can conjure feelings of anger and bitterness, that leave us tense with frustration, as we seem unable to let go of the resentment we feel toward them.

The person that inflicted this hurt could be a former lover, friend or a family member. We’ll spend time wishing that they would disappear from the face of the earth, taking along all of our memories of them. You may wish that you could simply erase them entirely from your history. Since we can’t do that, unanswered questions tend to plague us.

Despite not wanting to take them back into our lives given the opportunity, it’s human nature to wonder and sometimes obsess about those unsolved questions. These questions haunt us, so much so that they compel us to search for closure.

Whether they left you without explanation, broke your heart, dumped you unfairly, betrayed you, used you or manipulated you, dammit, you want closure. It’s only fair! But what is closure, really? Is it a feeling of validation and completion? Is closure an apology? Is closure a conversation where the other person takes accountability for their wrong doings and expresses a sense of remorse? It is all of the above?

If your relationship was indeed good, and the person that you were with was truly great, I guarantee you, you wouldn’t feel like you need closure. In normal, healthy relationships, both people share in the responsibility of the demise of the relationship. The break-up is not sudden and out of the blue. Both partners have tried to make it work and compromised, often spending months, if not years, working on finding possible solutions to try to resolve the issues and save the relationship.

However, the relationship you were in wasn’t truly great, despite you possibly believing that it was. It must have lacked the essential component of communication, at least on their part, or you wouldn’t have been left blind-sided and feeling the need for closure.

Being left suddenly by someone who you cared deeply for can result in you feeling stuck,  wanting answers and even vindication so that you can, hopefully, stop obsessing and move on. You may contemplate calling or texting the person. Some of your friends may tell you that contacting them is a great idea and others may tell you “absolutely not,” which leaves you even more confused about what you should do. All that you feel is that you need to do something, because feeling helpless and motionless is driving you crazy.

Before you pick up your cell phone and make that call or send that text, consider this first: Closure is many different things to different people.

Some people associate closure with having the “last word.” This type of unloading and final opportunity to “stick it to them” may seem tempting and may feel great in the moment, but it will only lead to more bitterness, and perhaps even regret, once you have calmed down and come to your senses.

Other people associate closure with getting answers and putting an end to their obsessive wondering of what went wrong. If the person left you and you don’t know why, what makes you think that they are going to change and tell you their reasons now?

If by some chance, you reach your ex and they do agree to meet with you and give you the “gift” of the closure conversation, do you really think they are going to tell you the truth? They genuinely may not even know why they left, or they may have left because they have fallen in love with someone else. Do you really need to know this? No, you do not! Whatever they tell you, my bet is, it won’t make you feel better and probably will only make you feel worse. It has the potential to just add to the many unanswered questions you already have spinning around in your head.

As a final burden to bear, at the end of the conversation, you will probably hear those dreaded words, “I really did love you.” This will only open up a whole new can of worms, adding to your confusion and pain and will beg the question, “If you loved me once, then why aren’t you willing to try to love me again?”.

Closure to some people is the desire to have a distinct beginning, middle and end. But life isn’t always as it is in the movies. The good guy doesn’t always get the girl and the hero sometimes doesn’t win.

Sometimes endings are messy and not clear. As much as we would like to make sense of our endings and neatly organize them into the file cabinet in our heads, we have to accept that not everyone in life plays by the same rules. Now might just be time to create that junk file in your mind.

I hear so many people say that they don’t want their ex back, but that they just want the closure of knowing he or she still misses them. They may want to hear that he or she feels like they may have made a mistake. This is like wanting to stay in touch with your kidnappers. Who cares if they still miss you? They hurt you, they abandoned you, they betrayed you. They left you without answers. Whether they miss you or not, or regret their decision or not, should not matter to you now.

“If they didn’t appreciate you, they didn’t deserve you.”

You don’t need them to miss you to feel better about yourself or confirm your sense of self-worth. Do you really want to give the opinion of a disordered person who lacked the integrity and the decency to give you closure that much power in your life? Remember this person, the person who you are seeking to ease your pain by missing you, was the source of your pain.

Someone who is capable of leaving you without a real heart to heart talk lacks empathy and is manipulative. Some people, most often those with Narcissistic Personality Disorder or Narcissistic traits, purposely leave relationships denying their partners the decency and respect of closure. Why? It boils down to one thing and one thing only: Control.

By not giving you warning, by blind-siding you or not giving you answers or the ability to call them out, they escape having to hear your protests.  Dodging these protests allows them the gift of avoiding any accountability for wrong doings that they may have made in the relationship. Thus, they remain in total control. This tactic also prevents you from moving on because you are so consumed with what went wrong and the need to find closure. They absolutely realize this and take great satisfaction in knowing that you are suffering. Your misery is an excellent form of narcissistic supply. The more suffering, the greater the supply.

You will never receive that sincere apology that you are hoping for. They will never take any accountability for any of their actions that contributed to the demise of the relationship. If you do decide to pursue that closure conversation, they will be icy cold and void of emotion. They will delight in your pain. They will mistake your need for closure as proof of how wonderful they are. Their demeanor will be nice, but slightly condescending. They will probably say things like they “wish the best for you” or “never meant to hurt you” or they “hope you find someone who makes you happy.” They may even add “the break-up is as hard on them as it is on you.” Meanwhile, they are likely already in another relationship with all the benefits of having a new emotional air bag to comfort them.

Their words will not be genuine and will not be intended to make you feel better, ease your pain or offer any answers. Their responses are meant to trick you into believing that they are handling the break-up with the utmost maturity, so much so, that they are more concerned with your future happiness over anything else. That’s because it’s easy for them, since they have already moved on, and they expect you to do the same.

Instead of hoping for an apology that you will never get or answers that are not going to be truthful and don’t matter because they ultimately won’t change the outcome, it’s time to look for closure in all that was left unsaid.

Try to uncover and identify the answers that you are looking for in their silence. The answers are all there if you are willing to read between the lines. Seek the closure that you crave from observing the person’s actions instead of their words.

Remember, “when one door closes, another one opens, but we often look regretfully at the closed door, so we don’t see the one that opened for us.” Alexander Graham Bell



Bree Bonchay, LCSW, is a psychotherapist with over 18 years of experience working in the field of mental health and trauma recovery. She specializes in helping people recover from toxic relationships and shares her insights about Narcissistic Personality Disorder and psychopathy in her blog FreeFromToxic. Her articles have been featured in major online magazines and she has appeared on radio as a guest expert. She is also a dedicated advocate, educator, and facilitates survivor support groups and workshops.




Suffering from narcissistic abuse? Join Narcissistic Abuse & Toxic Relationship Recovery & Support Forum on Facebook by clicking the link.

Copyright © 2015 Bree Bonchay. All Rights Reserved


32 thoughts on “Closing The Door On Closure

  1. This is so accurate. My divorce from my narcissistic wife was recently final. It all happened seemingly so fast. I am still mad, confused, and sad that despite my maximum effort (divorcing my 1st wife, investing heavily in the new relationship both emotionally and financially, etc.) things lasted 8 years total, 5 years married with the last 2 or 3 years full of devaluing and discarding. There has been no closure and I hate how things happened. I see her every day at work too so she continues to try to confuse me, but nothing resembling closure. Oh, and she is (and apparently has been unbeknownst to me) seeing someone new!

    Thankfully, documents and posts like this that explain why things happen the way they do provide a pretty good measure of closure, or at least a substitute for closure. I appreciate knowing more and more about NPD and your posts really help.

    1. Apensiveheart, I can only imagine how difficult it must be to have to see her every day! And how that would drag on any sense of closure for sure. It is so much easier when you can erase all reminders and delete and block and poof- they are gone from your life. I truly believe that they know there is an expiration date on the relationship from the very beginning ( will blog on this soon) but I believe that also plays a role in why there never seems to be real closure. I am happy that my articles and the other content out there has helped you to better understand NPD. Hope it has brought you comfort in knowing that no matter what you could have possibly tried, the outcome would not have changed. Helping people and creating awareness is why I started this blog! So thank you!

      1. Thank you for this article. I recently left a relationship when I found out my partner was lying to his “ex” and telling him he was dying with a brain tumor. In the meantime, I was living with him and he was absolutely healthy. It was by accident i found out, but I knew I had to leave immediately. I lost so much money and trust because of it. When I confronted him on the “brain tumor” lie, he tried to turn it around on me and blame me for the end of the relationship. (I made it clear that I knew about the lie.). Now he’s back with the “ex” ( he told him he was overseas having therapy while I lived with him!) I have tried to make sense of it all and find closure but realized…..I will never have closure with him. He doesn’t care! Anyone who can lie about a brain tumor most likely won’t care about MY need for closure. I’m just one of billions and billions to him. “I do not matter and to him I need to just “let it go.”. And in that sense, he may be right because he will NEVER admit his cruel lie. I realize we are in completely different moral and ethical universes. Still, I “wish” he would admit he fucked up, but many wishes don’t come true.

    2. I cannot begin to imagine how upsetting it is to see her at work every day. When my soon to be narcissistic ex-husband even texts me, I immediately have an anxiety attack and my entire day is ruined. All I have to do is see his name pop up on my phone and I instantly feel sick. My loved ones say they can tell if I have heard from him that day because my demeanor is dark. I have to talk to him though because we share a baby boy. We are also just recently separated, so there hasn’t been any set schedule or anything yet and the hurt for me is very fresh. Although, like you, I was with him for 5 years and the last 2 have been spent devaluing and discarding me. I went into severe depression because I couldn’t understand what was going on. I accepted all the blame and tried to change to please him. Nothing worked. Of course I AM the blame and he never ever did anything wrong. He’s the victim. According to him, I have abused, manipulated, controlled and broken his spirits down for the past 5 years. The projection makes me so frustrated, angry and sick. When I finally realized what he was, my eyes started opening. I’m not the one losing, HE IS! I just couldn’t imagine having to see and experience his evil every day. His name and memories haunt me enough. And you say she still tries to control you, so does mine. When he sees me, he tries to be sweet and loving. I give him the cold shoulder to save my heart and he lures me into a conversation about how I feel. I told him last weekend that if we didn’t have a child, it would be easier because I wish I never had to see his face ever again! He looked at me with this broken hearted look and said “how could you say that? I would still want to see you. I still want to see you now. I love you more than any person that has ever walked this earth and I always will.” All I could do was stare at him in disbelief with a million “what about when you said/did….” thoughts going through my head. They are evil.

      1. You are doing the right thing! We have to remember they are bottom feeders that will take everything they possibly can from us for as long as we let them.

        Regarding my ex still doing whatever she can, I have implemented no contact as best I can. Clearly at work I have to answer my phone (although there are times when I don’t just because I am doing my best to avoid all contact). There has been a piece of mail that she wants and has been emailing (work email) and instant messaging (again work) and I have not responded to any of them. I did answer the phone yesterday and it was her (first time I talked to her in 6 weeks and first time on the phone in a few months). She has the gall to tell me I was not responding to her emails and attempts to contact me, as if she is the one getting ripped off. I answered her in one work answers (yes, no, ok) and hung up. Like you, I was depressed/impacted the rest of the day. It will be so nice when she is out of my life.

        You and I are going to be fine and much better off. Their lives are going to suck, ALWAYS! Be strong.

      1. Luckily, she just got a new job (starts in a couple of weeks I am told). Still with the same company/facility but a mile or so away from me. Miracles do happen! Thanks for your comment/care. I appreciate it.

  2. Thank you so much for this! I so appreciate your precision in articulating what is apparently the predictable face of my conflict. I have absolutely been obsessed with the idea of her taking accountability for her words and actions. You have reminded me that it doesn’t matter. There is a sense of freedom in this that I could never really convey to you in words. Just know that your effort here has lifted a weight off of my Soul.
    Thank You !!

    1. 8 years this has gone on with a (what I thought was close) family member. All read above is true. So much taken from me … maybe somewhere I thought I would receive something that belongs to be. All because of money?

  3. thank you- this is one of the best pieces I’ve read on “closure” with a NPD ex…..although I am remarried, I tormented myself (and my 2nd husband) with this so misguided notion of trying to get closure for past ten(!) yrs….it’s been a long tortuous road, 17 yr roller coaster marriage ending in 2005….never had accurate information on this dangerous type of person until accidentally finding it through FB about 6 months ago… all fits-finally- to a tee…..I am proud to say that I now see right through him and no longer play willing victim to games and manipulations still going on (share 3 kids )

  4. My story is long & complicated but I just wanted to share that after 2 years of feeling like a yo-yo and another year of definite separation, it’s only been a few days since I had that AH HA moment and realized wishing and waiting for answers is futile. I only prolonged my mental torture. He is a first-class narc, no doubt. In our legal dealings thus far, he has managed to manipulate ‘professionals’ who probably have twice the education he possesses. He is a snake charmer who gets his way, especially with women. And I’m referring to women who have power over custody of our children. He and I are not on level playing fields. I’m paying the price for what his criminal activities led to and my beautiful daughters are suffering…caught in the middle. It’s absolute insanity!

  5. A saying I find helpful with regard to closure…”The only closure you will ever get in the aftermath of sociopathic abuse is you closing the door, the one that leads to your heart, mind and soul.”

  6. This is exactly how I’ve been feeling for over a year after the breakup. I still need closure after the relationship ended so badly. My ex moved on long before the relationship was really over. To be honest it never was. What I felt in my heart didn’t exist for my ex. I was having a relationship alone. I have had many scenarios where my ex comes to me and needs me for whatever reason I want that to happen. I need to be vindicated. To say I know you would be back. But in reality that won’t ever happen and I’m living in reality and in the past. I want to know WHY????!!! and even though deep inside I know my ex didn’t care for me,used me turned me into a joke at every occasion I still love this person and my heart is still broken.
    I want so much to move on and be the person I was before this tragedy occurred but it’s been a hard road and I don’t know if I will ever be okay. I’m trying everyday but having closure hangs over my head. It never goes away. Im never without those thoughts of having answers of how a human being could do what was done to me.

    1. Hope, it’s hard not to take your ex’s actions personally and feel that they are some how a reflection of your worth. Just because your ex didn’t value you doesn’t mean you are not valuable. That’s what keeping you stuck needing vindication. It’s the feeling that the hurt can only be undone by the person who hurt you. Don’t give that power away. Ultimately, we have to heal ourselves, the healing process takes longer but it isn’t dependent on external sources, which makes the healing lasting and permanent. It’s believing you deserve better and deserve to be loved in the same way you love and not tolerating any less.. When you wholeheartedly believe that, you will no longer need vindication. If you haven’t already, consider seeing a therapist to help you find that place inside you. 🙂

      1. You’re welcome. Thanks for sharing. I’m dealing with having been married to a narsisstic person, so this is helpful 🙂

  7. I’ve been researching narsisstic abuse for a couple months and trying to accept I was married to one. And that I was the empath. Even though the abuse may or may not have been intentional, it is freeing to know what it was and name it; it describes what my marriage was like.

    It took me stumbling upon a blog to discover it was even a thing. And the more I read and study it there is a light bulb going off. As I said, it may not have been intentional, but I truly feel this was my marriage and how isolated, manipulated, and controlled I felt. I’ve spent 4 years thinking I was an abusive good for nothing husband and man. To finally see that’s the narcissists goal.

    Constant crictism, lack of respect, isolated me from my family and friends, made me think I was the abuser because I couldn’t live up to unrealistic standards, lack of empathy for my ADHD.

    It’s taken me awhile to see it, but it was narsisstic abuse. I’m not without fault and blame when it comes to the marriage falling apart either. I had a short temper, easily irritated, easily domineering, which are all things I’m working on. I found this article to be so incredibly helpful with healing from and dealing with the toxic relationship I had. thanks for sharing this.

    1. Jon, I’m glad you found the article helpful in your healing. Thank you for sharing your story. I think it helps people to hear survivor’s stories as they are able to relate and feel validated! TY

  8. Here is a quote on a tea label I just used and wanted to share: ‘The more silence you have, the more the other can experience himself.’

    Sounds like some extra motivation for No contact. (Not that I believe my ex will confront himself with his evil behaviour, but at least I am not providing him with more supply by letting him know how much I am hurt)

  9. This article addresses only abandonment of the relationship by a narcissist-type personality. There is another situation in which you, the narcissistic supply, get used up until you are a shell of your former self and you snap and leave the relationship. Then, they try to keep hounding you to the point that you must dash away in the middle of the night and cover your tracks (get a new place to live and phone number and NEVER give them any info to contact you again). This leads to the same situation. You, wanting closure, but knowing that through any contact you will never get it. You will only get them using you for their sadistic purposes. So YOU move on and GET A NEW PARTNER and they are sitting there blaming all of their problems on you as if you just didn’t love them enough. Anyway, I just wanted to share the other side of the same coin.

  10. I have been in a relationship with a narcissist for 26 years – and i consider myself to be really on to it emotionally; so go figure. So it is with great relief and gratitude that I came across this site. Many of the things that I have read are so close to my experience that, yes, i think they are written about me. However, I came to this part about ‘closure’ -seeking answers – and its all upside down to me. I left my relationship at a point when I realized i was so broken and looking down the barrel of retirement with narc partner really scared me. The narc had great plans – buying a boat, sailing, sunsets, etc. Sounds great – but the problem was “he would be one the boat” I could no longer tolerate this despicable man – i felt like I would be signing my own death warrant. So bravery in hand I left. Not easily or quickly – for we have 2 beautiful daughters. I thought so long and hard about what would be right for them. In the end I had to survive and left, in order to be useful to them,myself or anyone.
    It is now 25 months since we had intimacy (if that is what its called) and 15 months since I left the family home. I am in a constant battle with trying to be free of him, He has sat on all our money – living free in our home, trying to starve me out. Bullying, threatening, delaying, abusing. I only have email communication with him about relationship property matters and its a regular grind of total unreasonable irrationality. Meanwhile he lives in our house – water front, large swimming pool, holding dinner parties with ;our ‘friends’ (not mine I have come to realize). He will not let me go – whilst all the time telling me to ‘get off my arse and do some work’ He refuses to let me go. His need to control me and blame me has cost me about $40k in legal fees and it still goes on.
    There is a side of closure where the narc just wont let you go. Its awful, unfair, unjust,crazy making. I despair in powerlessness. i have NO desire to have this person in my life – the need is all his and yet I need my money. Any suggestions??.

  11. OMG I needed this today. I’ve read it a dozen time but TODAY it really resonated with where I am and how vulnerable I still am to his cruelties. Thank you, Bree.

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