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Being dumped by text was heartbreaking, but I can see why people do it

Could a text actually be the most humane way to break up with someone? Christine Allen considers the possibility.

Christine Allen Sports convert and IT engineer

MY PHONE VIBRATED on the bedside locker. Picking it up, I saw her name, and sobered up immediately. ”There’s nothing to talk about,” her text read. “It’s over.”

That abrupt message was sent by my now ex, after three days of radio silence.

Her lack of communication had begun without warning, and upon reading that message, it became clear that her sudden refusal to communicate was her way of ending our relationship.

To say it hurt would be an understatement. It was, in my view, the coward’s way out. For months after the break-up, I continued to wonder why she left, what I could have done wrong and whether there was someone else.

To use that awful American phrase, I longed for closure.

Looking for answers

Back to the present day and I’m reading online that former One Direction star Zayn Malik has dumped his fiancée, Little Mix’s Perrie Edwards, via text.

With this, the anger, the unanswered questions and the endless replaying of Kelly Clarkson’s Stronger on my MP3 player (choon!) all come flooding back.

And so, as I read the details of their break-up, I fully empathise with what Perrie must be going through. I also can’t help but wonder how Malik could believe that a text message was an appropriate way in which to end a three-year relationship.

And so I decide, ironically perhaps, to look to technology for my answer – Facebook to be exact.

The responses I get to the question I post on my profile are interesting, to say the least.

While many who comment admit they’d be too cowardly to break up with someone in person, others go a step further and claim that breaking up with their partner online gave the dumpee “more control’” over the situation.

“Rather than having to put on a brave face, or losing the head, a text gives the person being broken up with the time to collect themselves and decide how they want respond,” says Sarah, who says she’d in fact prefer to be broken up with online.

Despite my initial belief that a break-up should always be carried out face-to-face, her logic makes me pause for thought.

After all, isn’t listening to the reasons why your partner wants to leave you a little excruciating, not to mention humiliating, if you find yourself crying a river? Is being dumped by text in fact a caring gesture on your ex’s behalf?

Brit Awards 2015 - Arrivals - London Perrie Edwards and Zayn Malik Source: Dominic Lipinski/PA Wire

Making things less awkward

Speaking of tears, should someone be vilified for wanting to avoid the drama that an in person break-up inevitably brings? And is a dumpee’s demand for a face-to-face explanation really going to heal the heartache?

Looking at break-ups from another viewpoint, can something that’s so often fraught with mixed emotions and indecisiveness really be controlled? Isn’t a break-up too fluid a process? Can’t break-ups just, well, happen?

“I accidentally broke up with someone through text,” another Facebook friend weighs in. “I sent the cliché ‘we need to talk message’ and he replied ‘are you breaking up with me?’ In a panic I replied ‘yeah’ and we haven’t spoken since.”

According to a study conducted by US money saving brand VoucherCloud, more than half (56%) of those who went through a break up in 2013, ended their relationship digitally – whether over text message, social media or email.

The majority (55%) who ended their relationship via text message explained that it made the process “less awkward”, while more than half (58%) of those who broke up over email claimed that they had chosen the method as it allowed them to “fully explain their reasons”.

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Tellingly, however, when asked if they themselves would be annoyed if dumped over text or email,  73% answered in the affirmative, saying it’d be “too impersonal”.

Lack of respect

While there were no warning signs that my relationship was on the rocks, reports that Malik had cheated on Edwards in the months leading up to his now infamous break-up text were rife.

With this in mind, when there are red flags such as bad behaviour before a break-up, are those of us who stay in the relationship partly to blame for our partners’ lack of respect in dumping us?

Whether you think the length of a relationship should dictate the manner in which a person is broken up with, or feel that a faceless break-up is inexcusable no matter the circumstance, breaking up is never easy – for either party.

Sure, there will be partners who have zero empathy and feel no guilt before pressing that send button, but is such a heartless individual really the type of person that you want to be in a relationship with in any event?

It is a fact of life that all good (and sometimes not so good) things come to an end, and our relationships are no exception.

Perhaps the best thing that we can do in order to avoid being dumped unpleasantly and unexpectedly is to monitor the health of our relationship through effective communication and find the strength to walk away if we are unhappy – before our other half beats us to it on Facebook chat.

Christine Allen is 27 and has just completed a three-year IT course at DCU. Her writing has been published by Gay Community News and DIVA magazine.  You can follow her on Twitter here

About the author:

Christine Allen  / Sports convert and IT engineer

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