In Defense Of Relationship Closure

Today, I had two separate conversations about relationships, both in the vein of discussing closure. A friend of mine made the point that we’ve all dated people who show you just how great things with them could be if they were able to fully get over their ex. You get this glimpse of how amazing the potential partnership would be and then you’re sucker-punched by all the baggage the person is still carrying.

It was a spot-on observation. One I hadn’t ever considered.

I get it. I’ve publicly denounced “closure” on this very blog. Rule one of writing is to call yourself out on your bullshit before anyone else can. So, there we go.

But, closure is sold to us in all of the wrong ways. It’s presented as some come-to-Jesus moment where we sit in a swanky coffee shop with our ex, have a mature conversation and find that our feelings are reciprocated. Closure is shown as some simple interaction tied with a red bow. We talk. We laugh. We verbally exorcise our remaining demons. And, then we walk away and every unresolved feeling finally has some real estate in which to live.

But, this is life, not a rom com. So, it is messy and incomplete and unpredictable. Therefore, no one in the history of relationships ever had an episode of closure like the aforementioned one.

Ironically enough, relationship closure rarely involves the other person we dated. When relationships end, there is a gradual process of accepting that the ties may remain frayed. Welcome to real life; sometimes, it sucks. Closure, if such a thing even exists, is something that takes place all within our own little bodies and over analytical little brains. It’s something that happens due to a unique blend of time and revelation. It’s just as much about the minutes and days that pass as it is about getting ourselves lifted from the defunct mode of thinking we had in that relationship. But, time does a lot of the work. That’s the beauty of the situation a year later and the sting of it a day after. We are fragile beings born at the mercy of time.

But, yes, we need the closure. We need to come to terms with things, even the shitholes we step in along the way. Because, we’ll probably miss out on a lot that comes our way in life if we don’t. That doesn’t just mean the people, but it encompasses all the other parts of a noun as well. The places. The things. We teeter the line of our past and our promising future when we refuse to let go. Things could be so good, great, beautiful, if only we would let the chapters close.



Not Ready For A Relationship: The Truth Or A Defense Mechanism?

October 2008

I’m working at the front desk of my dorm when I meet one of the new freshmen guys. I’m not savvy enough in the world of college “dating” to know that I should run away from him just by virtue of his first-year status, especially because I’m a sophomore. I don’t realize that an 18-year old guy has hormones that are running rampant and this university is going to provide him with a playground of options. So, I ignore all of the red flags because I am only nineteen years old and he is hot. That is reason enough.

When he tells me early on in our shenanigans that he is not ready for a relationship, I conveniently ignore that proclamation. Because we’re still spending time together and doing what pseudo adults do, so surely it must mean something. Surely he can be persuaded otherwise. Maybe he’s just hiding his true feelings? I conjure up a host of explanations in hopes of refuting his desire not to commit. And, then I fall hard, fast and recklessly, into an abyss all by myself. Because, he doesn’t budge. He doesn’t want a relationship. He said what he meant and he meant what he said.

I learn never to ignore that statement again.

Today I tweeted something in response to a few of my friends discussing the “not ready for a relationship” theory:

“Man says he doesn’t want a relationship, he actually doesn’t. Woman says it…she might be persuaded otherwise.”

And, because this is America and we don’t like double standards, people didn’t necessarily agree with me. Which is fine. I wasn’t born to be agreeable. I’m aware that I made quite a blanket statement, so it doesn’t apply to everyone. Yes, there are some men who say they don’t want relationships, but can be persuaded. Yes, there are some women who say they are not ready for a relationship and they actually mean it.

But, the punch line here is that no one is ever really ready for a relationship.

There are a gazillion articles out there that will tell you why being single in your twenties is awesome. There are also articles out there that will tell you why being in a relationship in your twenties is awesome. But, there aren’t any articles out there that will tell you how to best carry out your own damn life.

Sure, there is probably a certain mental and emotional space you should be in to commit yourself to a relationship, a space that opens you up to receiving love and giving it as well. So, if that is what defines being “ready” well, then, so be it. But, as I’ve written before, a relationship is about the stainless combination that comes along when you meet the right person at the right time and choose to be with them for the right reasons. There are many times in life when those three things do not blend. But, on the rare occasion that they do, you have something beyond beautiful.

I could tell you right now that I’m not ready for a relationship. And, that statement would be part truth, part myth and part defense mechanism. The part truth: my life is crammed. My weekends are crammed. My brain is crammed. Everything is crammed with the energy I devote to my career and my writing. The part myth: Well, if the right person trotted along my path, I would be ready to reallocate my energy and time to be with them. And, the part defense mechanism: sometimes, it’s easier to say I’m not ready than to admit that I’m scared as all hell to fall in love again. Sometimes, it is simpler to throw myself into a host of projects and limit the space I have to meet someone and be vulnerable.  It is easier than admitting that I know when I love, I love daringly. I love boldly. I love with the kind of love that fills my whole heart, penetrates my brain and runs through my limbs at every moment of every day. That out-of-body experience love. That first thing on my mind in the morning, last thought on my mind at night kind of love. That Mary J. Blige real love. That pick up your favorite candy at the store love. That rub your back and care about your day kind of love. And, sometimes that kind of love is purely exhausting. So, sometimes, it feels as though I’m protecting myself and my heart by just saying that I’m not ready.

But, then again, who ever is?




Not Ready For A Relationship

ready for relationship

This post is an excerpt from Twenties Unscripted: A Journey of Womanhood, Writing, and Relativity. The full essay is available in the book, which is currently available for pre-sale here.

The paradox of not being “ready for a relationship” is that there is no particular time when we are 100% prepared to enter a partnership. There is not a “Yes, my shit is finally together and I am ready for a significant other” moment upon which the gods will drop the perfect mate into our stratosphere. If only it were that easy. However, there are certainly times when we are not ready for relationships. There are times when we may have just exited a blighted break-up, are facing unprecedented personal tragedy, or are working non-stop. There are times when we only want to remain single, party and bullshit. There are times when we are amassing the puzzle pieces to make us feel more whole.Those are, arguably, all times when we are not prepared to enter a partnership.

Because, a relationship is not just the right person. It is the right person, at the right time and for the right reasons.