Difficult conversations are inevitable in life.
At some point or another, we are all forced to talk about sensitive subjects, whether we like it or not. Everyone knows the panic that sets in when these unfavorable conversations commence: the sweaty palms, pounding heartbeat and blushing cheeks.
While it is a natural human instinct to try and do everything in our power to avoid or delay these unpleasant conversations, there are certain topics that just have to be tackled head on.
For example, we’ve all been there when our parents painfully attempt to broach “the birds and the bees” subject with some bizarre opening line like, “All women have a garden, and a garden needs a big hose to water it … or a small hose.”
We’ve all heard the “your body is changing” spiel that leaves you feeling weirdly violated and exposed because your mom just explained every gross stage of how your body will develop.
And, last but not least, we’ve all suffered through the embarrassing “morning after” chat that seems to get more awkward by the second, as you desperately search his dorm room for your strewn-about clothing and rack your brain for any trace of what his name could be. (Acca-awkward!)
Now don't get me wrong; these conversations are seriously beyond disturbing when you're on the receiving end, but when you get past the awkwardness, there's actually a silver lining.
We often end up looking back on these unfortunate exchanges, enjoying how hilariously entertaining they are to us, even though they were anything but entertaining while they were happening.
Sometimes we share our tough conversation experiences with our friends, and sometimes even find ourselves bragging about whose was the most humiliating (as if it were a competition).
Yet the one difficult conversation I have found that is never ever boasted about to friends is "the closure talk."
Because of how raw and devastatingly heartbreaking the closure talk always is, we never find ourselves sharing the intimate details of these conversations during random, wine-drunk Tuesday nights with our besties.
The closure talk is delicate. It should have a big sign that reads: "HANDLE WITH CARE." It is never laughed at or reflected upon with nostalgia. It's the conversation that usually starts with tears and ends with tears. It's the most terrifyingly difficult conversation no couple ever wants to have, but every couple has to have, if they call it quits.
Forcing a couple to relive and hash out every blow-out fight that eventually led to their breakup is really sh*tty. It wouldn't be called a breakup if it were an easy thing to do.
So from experience, I have come to learn there are five important tips to follow if you are dealing with the looming closure talk.
1. The breakup is nobody's fault.
Do not go over every insult that was said to each other during a blow-out fight. Do not point fingers, or accuse your partner of being the reason why things didn't work out.
Even if it is clear who the bad guy in the relationship was (maybe your partner cheated, or maybe you did), putting all the blame on one of you will only cause resentment and lead to regretting your relationship as a whole.
In the end, you both gave up, so it's not fair to have all the guilt fall on one person.
2. It's okay to be weak.
There is zero point in going into this talk with your resting bitch face on. This will only make your partner think you don't give two sh*ts about what you both had, and couldn't care less that you’re both headed back for the dating market.
I'm not telling you to sob uncontrollably; keep it together, but don't act like you're too good for your partner now that single status hangs in the forefront. Any evidence of carelessness will only make your future ex grateful to be ending your relationship.
Be kind and gentle. Keep in mind, your partner is probably hurting, too, and putting up a wall might only make him or her feel worse.
3. The end goal is catharsis.
Catharsis is "the process of releasing, and thereby providing relief from, strong or repressed emotions." After a relationship ends, there are many conflicting emotions couples may feel: anger, sadness, revenge, loss and bitterness.
The only way to get past these overwhelming emotions is to talk them out with your soon-to-be ex. Tell him or her how you feel. (Imagine you are lying on the couch in your therapist's office, but be careful how in-depth you go because you are talking to the person who probably put you in therapy in the first place.)
Explain everything calmly. Do not yell. No good can come from screaming at each other for one last time.
4. Do not have multiple closure talks.
There is no need to drag out a breakup. It happened; cry about it and move the f*ck on. The worst thing you can do is have numerous "What went wrong?" chats with your newly ex-bae.
This will only deepen the wound. The more you have to see his or her face, the harder it will be to get over the relationship.
Have the talk once (if it lasts for five hours, that's perfectly okay), but do not let your partner cut the talk short and suggest you two pick up where you left off another time.
Don't leave questions unanswered or things unsaid. This talk is like ripping off a Band-Aid: Do it quickly and all at once so you can begin the healing process.
5. Settle on guidelines going forward.
Work out the logistics of your future relationship (or lack of relationship, if that's what is best). Will you stay friends? Text only on birthdays? Block all social media accounts? Pretend you never dated?
Whatever you decide is between you and your soon-to-be ex, but be sure both of you are clear on the terms of your new single lives.
Make sure he or she knows your friends are off-limits forever if that’s how you feel. Be sure you give all articles of clothing back (unless your partner is nice enough to let you keep a souvenir).
It is vital you both know exactly what is okay and what is not okay. That means no middle-of-the-night booty call if you both agree to seriously move on.
Now I know some breakups are a total sham, and some of you will continue to drunkenly hook up, even though there's way too much history for the hookup to be casual.
No matter what status you and your ex share, you should both honor the terms you agreed on in your closure talk. The breakup will go much smoother if you abide by the post-closure talk rules.
In the end, the closure talk should be about closing the book on your relationship. It is about appreciating your ex and what you had, but getting what you need in order to heal your own heart.
Be sure to bite the closure bullet sooner rather than later. If you keep putting it off, you just might wind up emotionally unavailable forever and living alone with too many cats.