Amanda Hess has an interesting piece on Slate in defense of email breakups. Not only are they favored almost equally by both genders (with women sending them slightly more often than men), she says they provide an opportunity for a more civil split in potentially explosive situations. She writes, “In the context of some strained relationships, it’s perfectly reasonable to refuse to be alone with a person who you expect may become very angry at you in the near future. And even in more conciliatory breakups, it can be ultimately helpful for both parties to give the dumper a chance to fully assemble his or her thoughts in a message window before contending with the dumped’s demands and appeals.”
I don’t disagree with those points, but I think I’m just old enough that I would probably be pretty shocked to be dumped over email, and I don’t think I’d send a break-up email, either. Then again, I suppose that depends on what we’re talking about when we’re talking about breaking up. If you’ve only gone on a few dates with someone, and they ask you out mostly over text, is it okay to decline over text, adding in a final, ‘I don’t think this is going to work out’? I went on four dates with a guy that I made plans with mostly online or via text, and when I realized I didn’t think we were a match, I called him to say so. He took it like a champ, and the whole thing was very pleasant.
Hess says she’s “not convinced that breaking up electronically is more traumatic than experiencing it in person,” but I don’t know. A lengthy email might not sting as much as a short one might not sting as much as seeing “Wnt a dvrce” over text, but I think they’re all more hurtful than at least a phone call. Then again, everything is relative when it comes to the pain of romantic rejection. I have friends who have been dumped by guys who just simply ghost, and in that scenario, a closure text would feel like a major boon. (“Sry.”) I can understand not wanting to be near someone you’re breaking up with, especially if relations have been tense, but if there’s enough history for things to have gotten tense (or the relationship was so intense that it got tense quickly), you probably want to honor everything that came before the end by at least being a voice on the phone, if not a body in the same room.
Then again, sometimes being a voice isn’t really enough, either. My first boyfriend, who I lost My Big Catholic Virginity to, broke up with me in a one-sided conversation over the radio while he was DJing at our hometown college radio station. I heard his voice loud and clear that night, and so did everyone else listening. I think I would have preferred an email.
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