Broken Up with By Text

Question: I recently was in a brief but intense romantic relationship with a woman. We were even talking about becoming exclusive when, out of the blue, I received a short text from her saying that she no longer wished to date me. I have experienced rejection before but none left me feeling like I did after this. Is it wrong for me to feel extra upset and belittled at receiving a text? Or is there a point where a text is a perfectly acceptable means of breaking up?

Since more people are breaking up over their phones, are there any different coping strategies to recover from such a situation better? This experience has made me anxious about pursing another relationship for fear of getting another text like this.

Answer: I don’t blame you for being upset. The way in which your former partner broke up with you is unacceptable. As far as I’m concerned (and I’m sure Miss Manners would agree), there is no point in which an email or a text would be an appropriate way to end a relationship. It is rude, disrespectful, and cowardly.

Unfortunately, it seems many people are using digital communication unwisely. I’ve noticed more and more people immersed in their phones or computers instead of being fully present with the people who are around them. I’ve seen families at dinner all looking at their phones instead of talking with each other and the places where people used to connect are now full of people ignoring their surroundings in favor of the internet or social media. I fear that this is an incredibly unhealthy trend that eventually leads to people feeling isolated because they’ve lost the skills to connect.

One of the worst aspects of having your relationship ended by text is that your former partner took away your opportunity for closure. You didn’t get the chance to observe her body language, get the answers you deserved or even say a proper goodbye. Although it was her choice, she also avoided an opportunity for her own personal growth by not having what was sure to be a difficult dialogue with you. These conversations are never fun but they do teach us the right and wrong ways to interact with people and, by breaking up digitally, she prevented that.

You’re not wrong for feeling extra upset and belittled but it’s important to remember that she was the one at fault. The manner of your breakup was not your fault and most people would feel similarly should they be on the receiving end of such an email or text. Thus, I wouldn’t allow this one bad experience to prevent you from dating. However, you may want to have a conversation with your next partner about how you all can engage in difficult dialogues and make a request upfront that the two of you talk face-to-face whenever something challenging occurs. It is tempting to take the easy way out but, in the long run, it’s worth it to deal directly with each other.

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