‘It’s not you, it’s me’ – just this one line in a text message inbox can be enough to hurl someone from rosy dreams of being in love to hard reality of a breakup. the looming danger of having ‘the talk’ or even receiving a Dear John letter is now being replaced by a short, crisp digital message indicating the end of a relationship.
Though no doubt convenient to end things with a tap of the finger on the send button, one could stop to consider how right it is to breakup this way and what are the complications it causes.
More people are doing it
Just like more and more people are using technology to find love, they are also using the same to breakup. One in six Americans with recent dating experience have broken up with someone—or had someone break up with them—by text message, email, or sending a message online, according to the Pew Research Center’s Internet and American Life Tracking Project Spring Tracking Survey1. 17% have broken up with someone they were dating by text message, email, or by sending a message online while an equal percentage have had someone they were dating break up with them by text message, email, or by sending a message online. Interestingly women are slightly more likely to shoot off a breakup email than men are—18 percent of them have done it, compared to 15 percent of men. Such trends are reflected in popular culture too as evident by news of celebrities like Britney Spears and Russell Brand initiating divorces via text message.
However according to some trends, men are more likely to use text messages and other digital means to end relationships as compared to women. New research2 by Mobile Phone Checker has found that 73% of men have ended their relationship over a text message, phone call or social media instead of meeting to do it.
Only 44% of women revealed that they had dumped their partner over text or other method, while 62% had been dumped compared to 47% of men via some digital device. The apparently greater tendency of men to end relationships through digital devices has been attributed to the supposed male abhorrence of drama and messy emotional display.
Though the jury may be out on who does it more often – men or women – there is no doubt that breakup text messaging is on the rise.
Why it is bad
the biggest objection to ending a relationship through impersonal digital means like text messages is that the breakup robs both partners, especially the one getting dumped, of his/her ability to communicate their own feelings about the situation.
The difficult process of ending a relationship may tempt some people to simply to cut off all contact with a partner without giving an explanation and with as short a message as possible.
This is not only an unfair and cowardly thing to do but is the easiest way of leaving behind a messy trail of unresolved feelings and guilt in wake of a breakup.
This scenario runs exactly counter to the foremost argument forwarded in favor of digital breakups, that they do away with any possibility of tear-filled tantrums and screaming matches.
But in reality if two people are not able to get their feelings on the breakup across, then it will be more difficult to find closure.
Knowing that you dumped your partner without giving him/her the chance to respond is likely to add to your emotional baggage and make it difficult to move on with a free and open heart.
Then again this is something that no individual with even a basic sense of social courtesy should do. People send and receive texts seemingly at random – they never know when to expect a text message. A conversation, at least, one can be prepared.
But it is extremely rude and more than a little cruel to send a “We need to end this” text message without knowing what the recipient is doing at that specific moment.
Above all, a text message may not make your intentions or the reasons of the breakup completely clear. Rarely will a text message accomplish what a conversation can. Texts are just words with no audio or visual hints about what the other person is thinking.
In a traditional conversation, inflection and pitch of the speaker’s voice can be important indicators as to his/her thoughts and feelings; likewise visual cues are crucial in understanding the real import of words and sentences. Even with phone calls, one can hear what a person said and how he said it.
Because of the absence of audio and visual cues, breaking up through text messaging can not only leave a lot unsaid, but in fact even lead to confusion and misunderstanding. If two people are not both in the same place when it comes time to have that talk, they could talk over Skype or Google Hangouts.
One should give the other person the minimum courtesy of seeing their facial expressions, hearing their voice and the nuance in it when they explain why things are just not working.
At the very least, they can pick up your phone and dial the partner’s number.
If text message breakup can be hard on the one being dumped, it can also leave a bad aftertaste for the one doing the dumping. If the latter had cared for the partner at all, then he/she will long feel guilty about the fact that the breakup should have been better handled.
The one being dumped of course has it the worst – he/she would keep replaying the words in their head, keep returning to that text – reading it, and rereading it – and trying to decipher some new, more optimistic meaning that really is not there.
It would be like a souvenir of a broken heart unless he/she can work up the courage to delete the breakup text.
And if two people had really cared about each other in their relationship, then this is no way to break up.