Breaking up is hard to do.
You never know how the soon-to-be rejected person (a.k.a.,"The Dumpee") will react when you tell him, “I’m sorry, but it’s over.”
First of all, he might refuse to hear that he’s being dumped.So there you are, wanting to deliver the bad news as humanely as possible, and then be gone. Instead, the more he refuses to hear, the more likely youare to resort to being, well…….cruel.
Not that you wantto be cruel. It’s just that he’s giving you no other choice, right?
Or, even if he’s willing to hear what you’re saying, TheDumpee might decide to beg for another chance. That can be awkward and uncomfortable.
And if you crank up the cruelty to let him know why you couldn’tpossibly consider giving him another chance, you feel and look and sound like abitch. But, if you buckle, and give him another chance because you can’t handlethe begging, you’ll continue feeling trapped with him.
Then again, when you tell a man it’s over by phone orin-person, he might tell you off. When he does that he might angrilypoint out all your flaws and mistakesin the relationship -- and expect you to listen. And what woman wants that kind of negative, accurate feedbackfrom a man she’s trying to dump?
So wouldn’t it be a lot easier for everyone involved to getout a Blackberry and tell a man the bad news by text message, like BritneySpears reportedly told Kevin “FedEx” Federline?
Well, it might be easier, especially for The Dumper -- butthat doesn’t mean that you should automatically do it. When it comes to breaking up, I believe that there's good form, and then there's bad form. And it's getting harder to figure out which is which.
If it’s true that Britney informed Kevin by text messagethat she’d filed for divorce, we can only guess why she did it that way. Sometimesthings get so ugly between two people in a doomed relationship that any conversationwill degenerate into nasty fighting. It could also be that he wasn’t taking hercalls, and she was determined to let him know before someone else did.
Or maybe Britney was just so thoroughly pissed off with, andtired of Kevin, that she wanted to deliver the blow (when he was on locationfilming…) without having to deal with his initial reaction and feelings.
Like everyone else, I’m not at all surprised that these twoare divorcing. Unfortunately, I also wouldn’t be surprised if, in the future, somebodytries to convince me, half-jokingly, that breaking up with someone at a safe [read:cowardly] technological distance is okay because Britney did it.
And we all know that Britney Spears is a regular MissManners of relationship etiquette.
Besides, she’s not the only one pulling a “Britney” on asoon-to-be ex. Using technology to do the dirty work of breaking up is fairlycommon practice now, especially as people move quickly from one relationship toanother. So why shouldn’t you embrace this practice, too?
You know why. Undercertain circumstances, people simply deserve better than to be dumped via text message shorthand:
“Uragr8 guy but I wnt 2 brkup. IWGWIL. HITAKS, k?"
(Translation: “You’re a great guy, but I want to break up. Itwas good while it lasted. Hang in there and keep smiling, okay?”)
That’s why, if you ever want to successfully convince methat breaking up with a man by text message or email is a good plan of action, atleast one of the following better be true about your situation:
You’ve taken a vow of silence.
He doesn’t own a phone, or at least, he’s made it extremely difficultto reach him.
You’ve had a date or two with him, and he was unpleasantly distantand/or rude.
He’s basically a good guy, but you’re not interested, you’vetried to tell him in a direct way verbally,and he still won’t get the message.
You’ve been out on a handful of dates with him, it’s goingnowhere, and most of your communication with him has been through text messageand/or email.
You and he have some major history together and, at thispoint, can’t talk by phone or in-person without it degenerating into a nastyfight. (Hopefully, if things ever cool down, you two eventually also have a realconversation about what went wrong and say good-bye with your voices.)
But good luck trying to convince me that you should pull a “Britney”on a man with a reason like this: “He’s nice and I just don’t want to hurt himtoo much.” The truth is that you don’t want to deal directly with his human reaction,by phone or in-person.
As far as I’m concerned, a basically good guy who’sgenuinely tried to get and keep your interest -- but ultimately didn’t floatyour boat -- deserves to hear your nervous little voice, telling him some variationof “I’m sorry, but it’s over.”
So what exactly doyou say (or write…) to a man when it’s over? How can you have good break-up manners and be effective at saying bye-bye? Check backsoon for my suggestions in “How to tell a man it’s over (part two).”
Oh, and if you’re the basically good woman who’s gettingdumped because you ultimately didn’t float hisboat, I also think you deserve to hear his nervous little voice telling youthat directly.
To the best of my knowledge, the break-up text message Iused above as a glaring example of bad break-up manners is NOT the messageBritney sent FedEx.
I like to think that her message to him looked something like this:
"Im dvrcing u Kev. CRBT not cuz pre-nups rul. Cu n crt.LYLB Brit."
(Translation: “I’m divorcing you, Kevin. Crying real bigtears -- not -- because pre-nuptials rule. See you in court. Love ya lots bye,Britney.”)