Cognitive closure is a term referring to a social psychological concept. In essence, closure refers to one person’s desire for an answer or explanation that reduces or removes ambiguity from a scenario or thought. However, you likely heard about closure most when ending a relationship.
The former definition is a relatively scientific, expert-agreed definition.
But a sudden breakup with no concrete explanation can cause someone to seek out their former partner in hopes of understanding why the split occurred. It’s also a familiar concept for abuse survivors, who may want the satisfaction of speaking to their abusers one last time later in life.
But is this process necessary? It’s referred to as a “need.” The term “need” here mainly refers to the natural human desire to seek information. This type of motivation stems from survival. Human beings want to know things concretely to learn and prepare for the future.
But the truth is that closure is not truly necessary for someone to move on. Some people learn that closure is meaningless and carry on with their lives. Some people are also simply not inclined to seek closure to begin with. Here’s the psychology behind why strong people won’t demand closure and will move on without you.
1. A High Need For Closure When Ending a Relationship Is Associated With Negative Traits
To some degree, it’s okay to want closure. But an extreme need for closure often arises from various negative traits. This desire is not necessarily about causation. Hinging everything on closure is born from difficult-rooted issues. Those issues are most likely to be present in those with specific traits from similar roots.
There’s an exciting study that covers this topic. It’s called “What the Need for Closure Scale measures and what it does not: Toward differentiating among related epistemic motives.”
Why Some People Do Not Require Resolution from a Former Partner
Here are some of the traits that people with a very high need for closure may also have and the possible reasons behind them:
- They are more likely to make judgments based on stereotypes. This data may be because of their focus on collecting information for future use and prediction. The vast generalizations based on stereotypes are the data supply for future planning.
- They are more likely to perform correspondence bias. This type of bias tends to draw unique conclusions about someone’s character based on actions that can quickly occur through generic, situational means. This may be the case because those who seek closure may try to find deeper explanations for everything they see.
- They are more likely to become stuck in something they’re convinced of. If they have old information, they may be unable to assimilate new information to update what they know. However, this depends highly on the individual’s personality.
- They are likely to make decisions based on the need for closure instead of good decision-making ability, says research. Their desire to receive closure will cause them to make rash decisions without properly thinking them through, all for closure!
- They have trouble thinking creatively. The desire to know things and be aware of all information can prevent those with a high need for closure from being creative. They find themselves unable to think outside of the box because they need to know all details first.
- They can struggle with cognitive complexity and critical thinking. The need to put things into boxes and get all information for an unambiguous answer can reduce their ability to consider nuance and gray areas in their quest for answers.
How This Informs Someone’s Strength
But what does this have to do with strength? Well, mentally strong people don’t usually let themselves adopt traits like this. They are likely to be more adaptable and open-minded and will try to avoid incorrect forms of thought to make wiser and better decisions.
This is not to say that strong people never perform those traits! No one is perfect, and strength is about learning to overcome the worst effects of those traits, not eradicating them with a golden track record. Essentially, a strong person is more likely to realize that closure is not a good enough reason to compromise their wisdom and beliefs. They view ending a relationship as a chance to rise again, learn, and do better the next time.
2. True Closure Comes From Within
Closure often faces outward–on the act of receiving a form of extrinsic validation in the form of a concrete answer from an external source. While this can be extremely helpful in some cases, such as in the event of an extenuating circumstance or tragedy, in most day-to-day applications, this isn’t the right way to seek closure.
It’s okay to desire external input and validation, of course, occasionally! But most forms of reassurance are best sought within yourself. Receiving much-desired closure will often not feel satisfying or sufficient, usually falling short of expectations and failing to click everything into place the way you’d like.
Genuine closure that puts you at peace with past circumstances can only come from within. This involves you personally accepting the ambiguity of a situation and making peace with that, allowing you to progress with your life.
Lack of Resolution from an Ex Does Not matter to a Resilient Person
It is easy to use a lack of closure as an excuse to remain stagnant in life. You stay within your comfort zone and get stuck there because you rely on this external closure to propel you forward. But what if it doesn’t propel you at all? What if the closure is unsatisfying or doesn’t give you the answer you expect? What if a resolution isn’t possible? Do you stay trapped forever?
What is it about this event that you need to hold onto? Do you have personal beliefs that support the concept of closure? There might be something that you fear will happen if you start moving forward without it. Are those fears valid and grounded in reality, or are they holding you back unnecessarily?
A strong person draws from their emotional resilience to move forward after ending a relationship. They focus internally and on intrinsic motivation. They don’t feel the need to demand closure from an external source, as they know it will not be as powerful as the closure they can give to themselves.
Strong people also know that self-improvement is the best way to overcome pain. They will eventually no longer feel any desire for that closure, as mentioned above, by working on themselves.
3. An Acceptable Way To Request Closure If You’re Ending a Relationship
The keyword we’ve discussed here is “demand.” Asking for closure in itself isn’t always a bad thing. Even strong people may try to see if closure is possible before deciding to move on because they also believe that it’s better to have tried than not to have tried at all! When received healthily, closure can be a beautiful and powerful thing. It’s a chance to learn and grow with new information and to close and open chapters in life.
What you need to do is to avoid hinging your every move on this closure. It would be best if you weren’t so focused on it that it becomes one of your biggest motivators. And you definitely shouldn’t pressure other people into giving you closure, even if they wronged you and, to some degree, perhaps owe you an explanation.