My generation has to stop doing catch-ups for ‘closure’

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When I recently informed my mother that I was about to catch up with my ex “for closure”, she told me it was “a terrible idea”. I told her that she was not being progressive, and how relationships can end these days without people despising each other.

The idea of the “catch-up for closure” is that two people, whose relationship has ended, are reacquainting to discuss what the two of them have been up to in the time they have been apart. On the surface, it appears a nice, cathartic and loving thought. However, from my experience, this is not how the catch-up for closure goes.

Catching up for closure with an ex can seem like a good idea. But is it really?

I understand my generation’s desire to do this. Say someone ghosts you, who wouldn’t understand the desire for closure. What did I say? Am I actually annoying? Am I ugly? These are questions I have asked myself whenever the countless women in my dating app direct messages decide, as if via amber alert, to abandon ship. However, Gen Z wants more than this.

I caught up with an ex-girlfriend a few months ago after she had been travelling through Europe, which now seems the norm following the conclusion of a relationship. Being the idiot I am, I figured it would be nice and sweet. I thought that maybe she had brought me back something!

My parents’ generation never did such a thing, I’m told. In their day, after a break-up, they would simply “pretend that person was dead”, but this is not something that is particularly easy in today’s social media age. Of course, you could unfollow or block your ex, but what about their friends, who you are still somewhat friendly with? What about their weird uncle you follow, even though he posts vaguely racist things and flawed political opinions? Do you have to block or unfollow them too? That seems like a lot of work, not to mention boring. In an odd way, you like their weird uncle.

In case you were wondering, my ex did not buy me anything.

She asked to meet at 10am, then was 15 minutes late. It was, I could see almost immediately, a power-play. Within minutes of this catch-up for closure beginning, I was hearing about how her life was “so much better now”. Reader, according to my ex, European men are “very generous”. I have to live with that knowledge, and now, so do you. She asked me what my “body count” was. I sat there, asking myself many questions. The most recurring being: “How can I fake a heart attack?”

Having endured my ex’s European manifesto – “The social scene in Amsterdam is even better than you think, though you’d hate it. What with your anxiety and stuff. Pierre doesn’t have anxiety. He was so funny, and handsome. And tall. His parents have a net worth of €16 million.” – I did what any sensible adult who has nothing remotely interesting going on in their life would do: I lied about having a TV deal with Australian streaming service, Stan. In truth, I had emailed someone at Stan about a series my friend and I were working on.

Their reply was, and I quote: “We are not interested.”

After lying about my life for 10 or 15 minutes during this catch-up for closure – “Guy Pearce is actually really keen on the script. He thinks it could win him an AACTA” – I realised what we were doing.

We were trying to make one another jealous. We were trying to show each other what they were missing out on. I realised what this catch-up for closure really was. It was a catch-up to flex. It was our way of showing what the other party was missing out on, and how they should, absolutely, regret the decision of walking away from the relationship. It was sad, and made me feel horrible for playing along with it.

I am not an idiot, OK? I know why many people do these catch-ups. They want to get back together. Maybe I wanted this too? But after saying hello and embracing my ex, I realised that getting back together was not an option. She and I were radically different people now.

My conclusion? We don’t need to do this. You want closure? It’s over. The thing ended. That’s all there is, really. If we needed any more closure, we would probably still be together. I am fine with flexing one’s new life on Instagram or other social media platforms. That is natural. That is good. But to catch up with someone just to parade your seemingly perfect new life is awful. It’s not a good thing, but I can’t see my generation stopping now.

Perhaps my mother was right. Maybe the best thing to do following a break-up is to indeed pretend that person is dead. And unfollow their weird uncle.

Roby D’Ottavi is a Melbourne writer/director.

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