Is It Ever Okay to Dump Someone Via Text?

Experts weigh in on tech etiquette for saying sayonara to a relationship.
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text message breakup
Benjamin Le, Ph.D., associate professor of psychology at Haverford College and co-founder of the Science Of Relationships, would even argue that dumping someone via email or text is actually harder for the dumpee to cope with than saying it to his or her face. “The key [part of a break up] is to give and get closure,” Le notes. “The uncertainty of not knowing why a relationship has ended is one of the problems with a short and impersonal breakup.”

Anika can relate. The 28-year-old, who had already suffered through a break up via a Post-It note (guess that old boyfriend didn’t have HBO), was dumped by another boyfriend via email. They had been together for almost a year and although in the emails he explained that it wasn’t her fault per se and that he just needed space, she still struggled with the break up because she hadn’t got the chance to talk it through with him.

Anika was finally able to move on, but “only after I told myself that person no longer existed and wiped them from my memory.”

If she could do that break up again and have it her way, Anika thinks she might choose to save the time of a face-to-face meeting and have the conversation over the phone. “At least with a phone call it can be done from the comfort of my own home,” she reasons.

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But perhaps the only thing worse than a tactless dumping is no dumping at all. Le points out that study after study has shown that “one of the most hurtful things that one person can do to another is ignore them or give them the cold shoulder.”

With that in mind, Le insists that if you aren’t interested in pursuing a relationship with someone, you have to at least send a polite response text or email declining his or her invitation or communication. It’s absolutely your prerogative to want to break up. You’re not a villain, unless you allow yourself to be cruel with your words or by sticking with the silent treatment.

So when you’re just not feeling it after a couple of dates, Sbarra suggests a simple text will suffice like, “John, I don’t think this is going to work out for us. I am sorry. I wish you the best. Take care.”

Now if you’re on the receiving side, you can still take closure into your own hands. If you receive a beep on your smart phone that turns out to signal a break up message, you have every right to hit reply.

Sbarra says, “Why not send something like, ‘What’s the story? Wanna talk …  like, for real talk?’” And hopefully, you’ll get the closure you need to move on to bigger and better things.

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