You’ve been seeing someone for a few months. You’re pretty into them, and for all you know, they’re just as into you, too. But then one day you get a text that reads something like, “Hey, look. It’s been real. But I can’t do this anymore.”
It’s been real? Real… good? Real bad? You’re left wondering. Can’t do what anymore? Am I being dumped? Ouch. Why do guys break up over text message? In short, because they can. But that doesn’t make it right. Here, we’ll explore more about this modern-day relationship code of conduct, and dive into why breaking up via text is becoming more common.
Why do guys break up over text?
According to Tina Tessina, PhD, psychotherapist and author of “Dr. Romance’s Guide to Finding Love Today,” people cite several reasons why they break up via text:
Feelings of guilt. “The person might be hiding from a direct confrontation, which may just be an aspect of their personality,” Tessina said.
Feelings of fear. More commonly the case when women break up over text, “a feeling of fear for personal safety might be coming into play,” Tessina said. It’s important to note that if you do fear for your safety when in the company of your partner, breaking up through text is a perfectly acceptable—and wise—thing to do.
Being ghosted. If the relationship has gone off the rails and one person has been “ghosting” the other and not responding to messages or calls at all, the situation may warrant an official end via text message.
Lack of investment in the relationship. Although it’s not common, there are people out there who simply aren’t able to feel much empathy, even when they’re in a relationship. These people may appear charming, but are capable of cold, callous behavior—like breaking up over text. Though it’s super painful, the person on the receiving end is almost always better off without this type of person.
There are a bunch of different reasons why guys may choose to end a relationship in the most impersonal way possible. But in the context of today’s modern dating scene, where we routinely pass over possible matches with a simple swipe of a finger and carefully curate only our best relationship moments on our Instagram feeds, breaking up via text really isn’t too far out of scope.
“The person who’s doing the dumping may not even see their actions as being disrespectful. That’s especially the case among young people, who have been raised on screens and smartphones and lack the interpersonal skills of generations before them,” Tessina said.
Why breaking up over text is bad
Something as impersonal as text shows a lack of respect for your partner and indicates that you’re acting like a coward, Tessina said.
“The problem with breaking up via text is that while break ups are almost always painful for both parties, in this case the person being dumped will probably deal with some extra pain from the lack of respect,” said Tessina. “That said, it’s possible this is just one more incident of a lack of respect that has characterized the relationship.”
No matter how digitally focused our world has become, breaking up with someone over text is obviously not the ideal way to do it. Of course, there’s no easy way—it’s a tough thing to deal with, whether or not you’re the one ending things.
Is breaking up via text ever okay?
Believe it or not, there are a handful of instances where breaking up through text is permissible, if not the right move.
Your safety is in jeopardy. Breaking up with someone over text is acceptable and even advisable if you suspect your partner might react violently to your breaking up with them.
The relationship was virtual or text-based. If you’ve had a relationship that was almost entirely text-based, or online, to begin with, then dumping them via the same medium you use to communicate is fine (and maybe your only option).
It was extremely casual. If you’ve had only one or two dates and all other communication was through text, breaking up via text may not be a big deal. Then again, you’re not really “breaking up” as much as you’re communicating that you don’t want to pursue a relationship.
The feeling is unquestionably mutual. If you’ve given it the college try but the chemistry obviously isn’t there after a few dates, it’s probably fine to break things off with a text. They may even appreciate the simplicity.
The relationship is toxic. Distinct from abusive ones, toxic relationships are relationships marred by dysfunction and dependence that both parties would be better off without, but can’t bring themselves to leave. If you know that an attempt to end things in person will lead to hours of fighting, crying and, ultimately, nothing changing, then using text to create space may be appropriate.
In other cases though, it’s best to do the difficult task of having a face-to-face chat and ending the relationship honorably. And know that ghosting someone is never the right thing to do, regardless of how casual your fling was.
I got dumped by text—what should I do?
Here are the dos and don’ts of how to try and cope if someone breaks up with you via text:
Put it into perspective. Especially if it was a casual or short-term relationship, it’s better to leave it behind so you can begin your search for the perfect match for you.
Understand that it wasn’t a perfect situation to begin with. It’s understandable to long for a picture-perfect, Hollywood movie romance. But if it’s ending like this, there’s a good chance your relationship simply wasn’t that.
Learn from the experience. “After the initial upset, review the dynamics of the relationship and analyze what went wrong, what you could have done differently, and what you learned. There’s no need to give yourself a hard time about it—just process the information, so you don’t repeat mistakes,” said Tessina.
Idealize the person. Tessina says there were probably warning signs you were ignoring before you were dumped over text.
“Don’t pick out the few good moments you remember and ignore what wasn’t working,” she said.
Assume it’s your fault. Breaking up over text is usually a cowardly thing to do, so it’s incorrect to automatically assume whatever went wrong is your fault.
Expect much in the way of closure. In a case like this, what’s done is done. Especially if you take the advice to not craft a response, there isn’t much information you can expect to get. “Longing to talk ‘just once more’ to your ex is just asking for pain,” said Tessina.
While your gut reaction is likely to hammer out a flurry of responses (most, if not all, of which you’ll likely come to regret), Tessina cautioned against this.
“The best response is no response at all,” she said. “Your silence will get the point across that you’re not happy. Just let it go, grieve, and get on with life. Someone who treats you this way isn’t someone you can really communicate with effectively anyway.”
If you weren’t worth his time, he isn’t worth yours
Once you recover from the initial shock of being dumped over text, you can begin to pick up the pieces and move on to your next—likely better—relationship.
Don’t dwell on what happened; the fact that your partner used such an impersonal platform to end your relationship indicates that they aren’t doing any dwelling. So why should you?
Remember, if he felt you weren’t worth the time and effort for an actual conversation, regardless of his reason for ending things, then he’s not worth your time either.