Relationship Advice: When to Break Up Using a Text Message
Is a Text Message Break Up OK?
I can remember when relationships were a lot simpler in one way and a lot harder in other ways. For instance, one of my kids came to me the other day and asked my advice about breaking up with a boy using only a text message.
She didn't really want to come face to face with him again and thought it would be easier to just send him a brief text message to sever all ties. I asked her what the text of the message might be and if she would use any emoticons.
As I try to do with all my kids, we sat down and reasoned together. This is what we found out.
The Break Up is Hard Enough
First, we talked about the dynamics, emotions and thinking processes involved in a break up. We agreed that a break up is going to be a difficult situation in any medium - personal, digital or otherwise. It's just one of those things that nobody likes to do.
Then we talked about the impression she might leave with this young man if she left him using just 140 characters (or less) to break off the relationship. Words like jerk, cold-hearted and coward came to mind.
Face-to-Face Breakups May Be Old-Fashioned
By today's digital technology standards, ending the relationship by meeting someone face-to-face is considered a thing of the past. MocoSpace, a mobile social network recently surveyed 20,000 members (mostly under age 30) and found that 57% of those respondents actually dumped their guy or gal over the phone.
Even more shocking, 47% used a single text message to end the relationship.
One young woman was dumped by her boyfriend of five years with a simple text message. It seems the times, they are a changing.
Communicating Using Text, Message or Phone May be the New Normal
We all know digital communication is very popular and quickly becoming a common tool for relating to other folks. Just how popular? Based on statistics from the Pew Internet and American Life Project, a recent CNN report stated that the number of texts received each day has doubled from 2009 to 2010.
Even though this digital means of communication seems to be catching on quickly, there are still a few meetings that should be done in person, face-to-face. My daughter and I decided these included marriage proposals, notification of death or disaster affecting a close family member or friend - and breaking up with a boyfriend or girlfriend.
Digital Communication vs. Personal Meeting
I can remember spending hours on the phone in my early business life. As I spoke with clients, I could sense so much more by their tone of voice, certain speech patterns, slight inflections, pauses or other irregularities in their voice.
Most of the communication in a phone call was not so much about the words spoken, but the way in which they were spoken. With today's text messages and emails, all that is missing - you have only words. For myself and my daughter, we decided the relationship merited a face-to-face meeting.
Exceptions to the "New Normal" Rules
You have to make your own call on this, but as a parent, I would definitely say there are times when a face-to-face personal meeting would be a very bad idea.
If either party in the relationship had experienced physical or verbal abuse, if either party felt their safety were at risk or their life were in danger - I would not recommend a personal, face-to-face meeting.
In the event that a face-to-face meeting were somehow necessary, I would definitely provide for some means of personal protection be that the physical presence of a third party, have the meeting in a public place or providing some other means of protecting yourself.
The Bottom Line on Breaking Up Using a Text or Other Digital Medium
OK, so breaking up is, as Neil Sedaka warned, hard to do. So there is already a great deal of stress and anxiety present anyway. In my daughter's case, we decided a meeting with one or both parents in attendance would be the best way to proceed. I think this was more for moral support than anything else.
After a phone call, they did decide to meet and talk face-to-face. The breakup was amicable - a happy ending of sorts for both my daughter and her friend. So is breaking up via text message or phone OK? Apparently society is moving closer to saying "yes."
Maybe I'm old fashioned, but I still think most everything should be handled in person. I tend to agree with Mr. Steve Harvey in the following video clip…