Breakup Etiquette For a Modern Age

Break up text

Earlier this week, at work, the conversation turned to breakup etiquette. One of my co-workers wanted to break up with the guy he was seeing, but was completely inexperienced in this department. They’d been seeing each other casually for two months without ever discussing exclusivity. Initially, they made a great connection, but then their recent dates had fizzled, or at least my co-worker felt that they had.

He wondered about the etiquette for conducting a breakup of this kind of relationship. Did they really have to meet up in person for that horribly awkward and uncomfortable conversation? How about a text??

“No way!” we responded, suggesting a phone call instead.

“But I never called him on the phone in the 2 months we’ve been dating. We only texted and Facebook messaged,” he replied.

Contemporary technology and morals have changed the way we communicate, affecting many facets of a relationship. According to a recent study by Lab42, about a third of those surveyed had broken up with someone via text message, email or Facebook.

And that’s not all, its even possible to remove yourself from the breakup process completely – you can get someone to do it for you. Take the website, IDump4You, where for the low, low price of $10, someone will call your significant other and deliver the news in a frank and honest manner. Or, as they put it: “We are therapy, humanity and comedy all rolled into one!”

The website also features audio clips of the calls so the humiliation can be all the more public. I thought they’d be funnier, but the samples I listened to were mostly boring and annoying, as the person being dumped was usually listening rather then talking. Personally, I wouldn’t recommend this method to anyone, unless you’re relocating to a foreign country under a pseudonym where you won’t be found, no matter how vengeful your ex may be.

In the end, my co-worker settled on the phone call, the seemingly perfect mix between the immediate and inactive but still comfortably removed. If you’re thinking about breaking up with someone via telephone, rehearse your conversation ahead of time by role playing with a friend. They can test out a few different reactions so you can plan out what to say in a number of different scenarios. As with any breakup, you want to be direct and as honest as possible without being cruel.

This got me thinking about some of the other classic breakup methods and their corresponding situations.

Break upBreaking up via the whole “disappearing act”, which is when you simply stop returning the other person’s calls, hoping they get the hint: this is only acceptable when you’re dating a subpar magician whose best trick is making your money disappear.

Breaking up via carrier pigeon: this is a great alternate method when your telegram line is down or your chimney is too plugged up to form coherent smoke signals. There’s also the option of a carrier parrot, which you can teach to perform a sympathetic phrase or two.

Breaking up via song: only if it’s an acapella rendering of Gotye’s “Somebody That I Used to Know” sung to a lover that totally liked the song before it was mainstream.

Breaking up via tired, dusty clichés like “it’s not you, it’s me”, and “I’m just not ready for a relationship right now”: only when he’s just not that into you.

There are a plethora of ways to break up with someone, and plenty of very creative ones, but text or email are still not acceptable options. What are your preferred method’s of breakup? What for you is unacceptable? Leave your comments below and we’ll continue the conversation.


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