You've undoubtedly heard a romantic horror tale about a person who didn't know their relationship was about to get a pink slip.
One day, they're going about their life, none the wiser, and BAM!
They get a breakup text message from their partner.
It's not an urban legend, either.
This happens all the time.
And today, we're unpacking the good, bad and ugly with text breakups.
When is breaking up over text acceptable, and when is it not?
We've got the answers you're looking for, so let's dive in.
- Is It Disrespectful to Break Up Over Text?
- Why Do People Break Up Over Text?
- Is It OK to Break Up Over Text? When You Should Never Do It and When It's Acceptable
- When Is It OK To Break Up Over Text?
- When Isn't It OK To Break Up Over Text?
Is It Disrespectful to Break Up Over Text?
Generally speaking, yes, it's disrespectful to break up over text. It may be convenient, but it's incredibly hurtful.
Using digital messaging to end a relationship can make your former partner feel:
While you may be disenchanted with the relationship, and your partner was the party that did something wrong, texting is still a questionable move.
Plus, it robs you and the other person of closure, which can be helpful — and sometimes necessary — to move on.
Why Do People Break Up Over Text?
Why do some people turn to text to end relationships?
Every situation is unique, but several scenarios are common. Let's take a look.
1. Don't Want To Deal With Reaction
Some people have good reasons for ending a relationship electronically, but many more don't. Instead, they simply want to avoid an awkward and uncomfortable conversation.
Bluntly stated, it's downright cowardly.
2. Fear Confrontation
Fear of confrontation is a real psychological issue, and many folks cite it as the reason for poor breakup behavior.
And sure, some people have bad cases linked to genuine trauma. But a lot of the time, it's just an excuse people allow themselves to avoid taking responsibility.
3. Never Serious About the Relationship
How do you act when you genuinely don't care about something or someone? People like to think they're kind and polite to everyone, but the truth is grittier and uglier: We ignore and brush off individuals we deem superfluous.
So if one party falls out of like with the other, baser instinct may prevail, resulting in a text message split.
4. The Logistics
Long-distance logistics are another reason people opt to break up through text. In these situations, context matters a lot. Cases arise where texting is the best and most economical way to communicate.
But they're rare. After all, you could just as readily hop on Facetime or a video chat.
Is It OK to Break Up Over Text? When You Should Never Do It and When It's Acceptable
The general rule of thumb is that breaking up over text is acceptable if doing it in person is a logistical impossibility or if there's a real threat of abuse.
When Is It OK To Break Up Over Text?
Is it bad to break up over text? In many cases, yes, it is.
But some scenarios call for a digital separation. Let's explore those.
1. Possibility of Abuse
Abuse is never acceptable. If you reasonably fear that breaking up in person will invite a physical or verbal confrontation exceeding acceptable boundaries, keep safe and text the news.
2. Not Dating Long
Is the situation a new one? Have you only gone on three to five dates? If so, breaking up by text is acceptable — if you haven't been intimate!
In the grand scheme of things, you barely know one another at that point.
3. You Discovered Something Inexcusable
We should always be skeptical of what we read in this content-saturated age, and taking gossip as fact has always been a bad move. But sometimes, we come into possession of undeniable and troubling information about people.
If this happens, and the person you thought you knew is not that person, parting ways via text is fine. In extreme cases, even ghosting is appropriate.
4. The Person Won't Listen
Do you know the person with whom you intend to break up won't listen and will react badly? If so, doing the deed electronically may be best — but only occasionally.
However, by nature, breakups are messy, and the admirable tact is to face the music head-on.
In other words: Don't use this reason as an excuse.
5. You've Tried
This is not the first time you've tried to break up with the person, and the relationship is dangling on a broken thread.
Both of you know the end is here, and now it's just a matter of someone banging the final nail in the relationship's coffin. Besides, you probably despise each other at this point, so breaking up by text is mutually beneficial.
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When Isn't It OK To Break Up Over Text?
As we've mentioned a few times, in most cases, breaking up by text after seeing someone for more than a couple of months is not a good look.
1. You've Been Dating a Long Time
If you've been dating someone for three months or more (over five dates), you owe each other a respectful separation. Yes, things may be contentious.
You may become entangled in an uncomfortable conversation for a few hours. In a phrase: Suck it up. Breaking up is hard to do, but it's part of life.
2. You're Afraid
Ending a relationship is emotionally taxing, even if you no longer feel a bond. As such, many people develop fear and anxiety around the act.
If you fall into this camp, breaking up face-to-face may seem terrifying. But it's the right thing to do. Try to remember that it's seldom as terrible as you imagine going in.
3. You Share a Friend Group
Are you and the person with whom you want to split part of the same friend group? If so, it's even more important to keep things above board and break up respectfully — especially if you intend to stay buddies.
4. There's No Reason To Do So
Are you contemplating a text breakup for no other reason than a lack of chivalry?
If so, think about why you believe it's acceptable to treat someone else disrespectfully. What personal faults are causing you to act so poorly?
5. You're the One to Mess Up
Were you the one who messed up and caused a fissure in the relationship? Are you now scared to face the person you're dating because of it?
Maybe you want to break up; perhaps you don't. Whichever the case, the right thing to do is face the person, not cower behind a text.
6. They Messed Up
“No,” you protest! I'm not the one who did anything wrong! They are! And while that may be the case, the principled move is to still break up in person. In these cases, it usually feels good for the hurt party who's doing the dumping.
How to Break Up Over Text
Ok, so you've concluded that a text break-up is the way to go based on your circumstances. But how do you go about it without making things worse for either of you? Here are some suggestions:
Be Direct and Concise
Just state the words directly without sugar-coating or wordiness. “I've decided we need to end our relationship.” Don't leave room for doubt or confusion if you're clear breaking up is what needs to happen.
Offer a Reason
Again, you don't need to give a long, detailed explanation. But a reason helps the other person understand why the break-up is happening and provides some sort of closure. Try to focus on your own feelings rather than blaming them. “My feelings have changed, and I don't see a future for us.”
Acknowledge Their Feelings
Break-ups hurt for both people but essentially for the one broken up with. Acknowledge that you know the break-up will hurt them and that you regret causing pain while being firm in your decision.
Offer a Conversation
If you are willing, offer the opportunity to discuss the break-up in person or on the phone. If the other person accepts, prepare in advance to keep it short and non-contentious.
Take the High Ground
If the other person gets angry or irrational, don't jump into the fray with accusations or insults. End the conversation quickly, kindly, and respectfully.
You should make every effort not to break up over text. Sometimes it's advisable and unavoidable.
But before you go down that route, assess the situation as objectively as possible, and make sure you put on a self-critical hat to examine the motives behind your thinking.
Yes, ending a relationship is complicated and messy. But doing it kindly and honorably is a romantic rite of passage. Always protect yourself first, then take the higher road.