If You've Got To Break Up Over Text, Here's How To Do It

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When it comes to our most hated dating practices, the dreaded text message breakup perhaps only rivals ghosting. Here's an unpopular opinion, then: I've done it, and I think it was the right decision. And according to at least a few experts, I'm not totally misguided. It's not a great habit to get into, obviously, but there are situations when breaking up over text is acceptable, and there are ways to minimize the damage it does.

In my case, I'd gone on seven dates with the guy, so it was iffy whether we were out of the stage where you can end things over text. But I knew I wouldn't be able to get the words out in person, and since I was out of town for the week, waiting until I could see him again would only drag it out. In an ideal world, I would've gotten up the courage to do this over the phone. But we do everything over text these days, and if anything, using writing allowed me to choose my words more wisely.

So, while I was out drinking with friends, one of them convinced me to rip the Band-Aid off. I settled on this text:

Hi, I hope you're having a good week. I've had a great time getting to know you, but after thinking about it, I don't feel that we are right for each other. I wish you the best and think you deserve someone great.

To my relief, he responded,

No problem, you too :)

So, go for a phone call if at all possible, but if you must, here's how to break up over text.

1Only Do It Very Early On In A Relationship...

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Samantha Burns, Relationship Counselor, Dating Consultant, and author of the upcoming book Breaking Up & Bouncing Back, would only condone a text-message breakup during the getting-to-know-each-other stage, with around five dates being the absolute maximum (yeah, I know I cut it close at seven). "If you’re in an exclusive, committed relationship it’s never appropriate to call it quits through a screen, unless you’re on FaceTime or Skype due to circumstances like a long-distance relationship, or if you feel unsafe with your partner," she says.

2... Or If The Other Person Is Abusive

If you're trying to get yourself out of an abusive relationship, you don't need to think about how polite you're being — you just need to get out as soon as possible, says April Masini, relationship expert. "Texting distances you from danger and therefore is a good option in this circumstance."

3Say Something Positive

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Before you launch into your lack of desire to see them again, let them know you've appreciated your time together so far (if, in fact, you have). Burns suggests "I really enjoyed getting to know you."

4Give A Reason They Can't Take Personally

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Since you'll probably never see this person again, you don't gain anything from discussing your issues with them. Instead, Burns recommends "I just didn’t feel a spark."

5Make It Clear This Is Permanent

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Don't say something like "this isn't working right now" or "I'm not looking for anything serious" if what you really mean is that you don't want to see them again. "When you leave room for confusion," says Masini, "that leads the other person to think this is temporary."

So, breaking up over text isn't totally off-limits, but there is an art to it. You shouldn't do it if you can avoid it, but if you've got to, you'd might as well minimize the damage.