Is It OK To Break Up With Someone Over Text? Why It's So Common, According To Relationship Experts
As far as breakups are concerned, there's nothing more infuriating than getting broken up with over text: it feels like your partner is taking the coward's way out, and leaves you with basically no sense of closure, which can make it super difficult to move on. But even though it should be common sense that sending a breakup text is a huge dating no-no, it still happens — and new data from text marketing software company SimpleTexting reveals just how common this unfortunate trend is, particularly among Millennials.
In a survey of 500 people about texting etiquette, 57 percent of Americans admitted to breaking up with someone over text message, and a whopping 69 percent of Millennials said they had been on the receiving end of a breakup text before. Yep, you read that right: the majority of those surveyed said that a brief, impersonal text had been the demise of at least one of their relationships, which isn't exactly uplifting news for anyone who values healthy, upfront communication. For better or worse, technology has changed the way we date and communicate — here's the scoop on why breaking up over text happens so often, and some advice on what to do if it happens to you.
Why So Many Millennials Get Dumped Via Text
Breaking up is never a good time, regardless of the medium through which it happens. Still, there's something extra painful about being dumped via text: it feels super impersonal, leaves you unable to have a real conversation about what went wrong in your relationship, and then there's the added bonus of being tempted to reread that text over and over while you wallow in your misery. But if it's universally regarded as crappy, cowardly behavior, why is it so common for people to break up with their partners over text?
"Social media and online dating have created a lack of connectedness when dating," Jonathan Bennett, Dating/Relationship Expert and owner of The Popular Man, tells Bustle. "People used to date within their social and community circles... so it created an incentive to avoid bad behavior (like breaking up over text). After all, no one wanted to be known as 'that person' within a group. But, given the impersonal nature of dating today, it’s very unlikely breaking up over text will result in any social consequences. So, people go with their impulse to take the easy way out, which is breaking up over text."
Simply put, a lot of us don't like confrontation, and the reality is that breaking up via text is a lot less confrontational than telling someone face-to-face that things aren't working out. Even if it's at the expense of their soon-to-be-ex partner, some people would just rather not deal with an in-person breakup — but ultimately, a text breakup is really unfair and hurtful to the person being dumped... and also reflects poorly on the one who hit "send" to end the relationship.
What A Text Message Breakup Reveals About The Person Who Pressed Send
For all the positive effects technology has had on our dating lives — like giving us access to a wider pool of people and allowing us to make connections super quickly — there's undoubtedly a very negative side to modern dating, too, and the prevalence of the breakup text is a prime example of how technology has, in some ways, actually impeded our ability or desire to communicate maturely.
"[Breaking up over text is] cowardly, it's sloppy, [and] it's lazy," Dr. Ramani Durvasula, Licensed Clinical Psychologist and expert on dysfunctional relationships, tells Bustle. "It shows [that] someone... is either utterly indifferent to the emotions of the other or so fearful of the emotions of the other that they cannot face or manage them. It may also speak to guilt and shame — and a way to circumvent those uncomfortable feelings by not having to face up to the breakup-ee. It also speaks to bad relationship hygiene down the road — and someone who does not have the skills to do the communication heavy lifting that long term committed relationships require."
When we have the option of taking the easy way out, it can be hard to resist, but if your goal is to eventually have a healthy, happy relationship, it's important that you learn to have difficult conversations in person, even though it might be painful.
Is It Ever OK To Break Up With Someone Over Text?
It should go without saying that if you're in a long-term relationship, breaking up with your partner over text is extremely unfair and disrespectful: both of you should have the opportunity to speak your piece before parting ways, and be granted the dignity of a face-to-face goodbye. That being said, there are actually some instances in which a breakup text is an acceptable course of action.
"If someone is involved with an individual that has displayed erratic or disturbing behavior, I believe it is acceptable to handle this by text," J. Hope Suis, inspirational writer and relationship coach, tells Bustle. "Also, if the term 'breaking up' only implies that someone no longer wants to continue seeing an individual after one or maybe two dates, I believe it is OK to relay this by text. It is not necessarily the 'best' way, but one or two dates have not solidified a relationship and the level of intimacy required for a more formal explanation."
How To Deal If You Get Dumped Over Text
As much as we might wish that the trend of breaking up via text would simply disappear overnight, it's unlikely that that will happen, so it's a good idea to be prepared for the possibility that, one day, it might happen to you. If you're blind-sided by a breakup text, the most important thing to remember is that, as frustrating as it is, you may never know why your partner chose to end things this way — and the best course of action is to seek closure within yourself so you can heal and move on.
"The person chose to end it that way for a reason that you may never know," Marquita Johnson, Licensed Professional Counselor and Millennial Dating Coach, tells Bustle. "Focus on gaining closure for yourself by seeking out support of a therapist if you notice that this breakup is taking a toll on you emotionally. Give yourself time and permission to heal. It may be counterproductive to seek answers from someone who broke up with you via text because they may have some problems with assertive communication."
It's not easy to be on the receiving end of a breakup text, but despite the immediate pain, you should also feel grateful that you dodged a serious bullet: after all, someone who would end your relationship in such an impersonal, cowardly way isn't someone who would make a good long-term partner anyway. Allow yourself time to grieve the relationship, then look forward to a future where you find a partner who will treat you with respect and dignity — even during a breakup.