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Is It Ever Okay To Break Up Via Text?

Our experts weigh in on tech etiquette for saying sayonara to a relationship.

| June 26th, 2013
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Is It Ever Okay To Break Up Via Text?

“I’m sorry. I can’t. Don’t hate me—"

That’s how Berger broke up with Carrie Bradshaw via a Post-It note on an infamous episode of “Sex In The City” back in 2003. A decade later, he likely would have done it through a text message, instant message, email or heck, even Twitter. But is it really wise to break up with someone in so few words and through such an impersonal form of contact?

MORE: The Ups and Downs of Long Distance Relationships

“All you have to do is ask yourself if you want to be ‘that person,’ ” YouBeauty relationship expert David Sbarra, Ph.D., argues.

That said, there are cases in which you can absolutely tidily end things via text. First and foremost, if the person has been a real jerk, feel free to curtly cut them loose. Or “[after] one or two dates, then perhaps it's not a big deal, especially if texting is one of the main ways you communicate,” Sbarra advises.

When dating, Dana*, 37, relies on texting her beaus. It makes her feel bolder in the beginning and also, in the end. She has no problem letting go of guys she’s casually dating via text, and on occasion, she’ll even hand over her phone to a good friend to draft the farewell message.

Dana argues, “Why look someone in the eye for an uncomfortable conversation when you don't have to?”

But karma believers beware: Even though breaking up via text is as easy as typing “C U l8er,” it’s not good form. “This is about showing respect for the other person,” Sbarra points out. “I cannot respect you in 150 characters—it just doesn't work.”

MORE: Are Beautiful People Also Rude and Selfish?

Stephanie*, 31, was dating a guy for six months when he decided to go on a European vacation and send her an email that he didn’t want to keep seeing her when he got back.

“At the time, I wished he would have approached me more directly,” she recalls. “Breaking up via email or text is cowardly. It allows the person to keep a shield of supposed strength, when in fact it really only disguises weak characteristics.”

Without the chance to get answers, the dumpee can go into a tailspin of whys and what ifs in an attempt to get the closure they crave. We’ve all heard it takes two to tango, so isn’t it only fair that it takes two to break up?

“[Dumping someone] is easier to do in writing, that's for sure,” notes Sbarra. “And, that's why so many people do it this way. [A face-to-face break up] might well be hurtful and painful, but that's part of the pageantry of life.”

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