Hi, welcome back! We're breaking up!
August 15, 2009 7:10 AM   Subscribe

Is it better to use email to break up with a partner who is traveling, or wait until they get back in a week?

Partner and I have just drifted. I still am emotionally attached to them, but I'm starting to get a bad case of the wandering eye, and that's a deal breaker for them. As well as that, time apart has made me focus on the negative ways they impact my life and how said negative ways are gone when the partner isn't there all the time. I’m starting to think about them as the lovable, awkward friend who inconsiderately muddies up your carpets and can be a bit too much in large doses, and not my cuddly shmoopy, which can’t be a good sign. Responsibly, I think our multiyear, monogamous but non-cohabiting relationship needs to be ended.

So do I take the coward's way out and email them, or deal with the ensuing awkwardness that they're going to get back from our physical separation happy to see me and ready for a roll in the hay? It seems just as cruel to greet them at the station with ‘Oh hai, I baked you a pie with your heart in it!’ as leave them throwing darts at my picture in another country.

Partner and I have been fighting over the various issues I have, but due to my own cowardice and indecision they think I’m having an episode that we can work through. Needless to say poor communication is one of the major relationship problems I think a break up is required for. So what’s the most ethical way to avoid leading them on or building false hopes, while creating the least drama? Should I like, send off the ‘It’s not you, it’s me!’ now or wait a week until they come back and fend off amorous advances until I can sit them down and tell them in person in a quiet area?

(To make matters worse, this person’s lovely family is trying to arrange for me to surprise greet my partner at the station, so it would help if I could figure this out before they kindly try to furnish me with lifts, as I doubt partner would be happy to see me if I’ve Dear Johned them)
posted by anonymous to Human Relations (45 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
 
Uh, wait. I think you know this--you call it "the coward's way," and you're right. People you liked enough, at one point, to date, deserve to be told in person.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 7:13 AM on August 15, 2009 [1 favorite]


Should I like, send off the ‘It’s not you, it’s me!’ now or wait a week until they come back and fend off amorous advances until I can sit them down and tell them in person in a quiet area?

Oh, and keep it in your gender-neutral pants for a week, unless you want the break-up to be a lot messier.

Really. A week!
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 7:14 AM on August 15, 2009 [15 favorites]


Don't do it.

After two years of a relationship (with 3 years of friendship before that) an ex broke up with me over email. "Wandering eye" was, in fact, in sentence two of his email. ("...Can no longer keep building this potemkin facade of a relationship" was also in a later sentence, and while hilarious now, I recommend you don't do that either.)

And you know what? IT SUCKED. Not just for me, although it truly, truly did, but for him. Dude was a mess for months. Started smoking again, gained weight, ended up begging my forgiveness later for his being such a coward.

And I forgave him; life is too short to carry a grudge. But do I think highly of him? I don't. And our friendship never recovered - oh, we're friendly, but I know what he is. And so does he.

A couple years later, funnily enough, I was sitting in my apartment about to hit send on a breakup email to my traveling boyfriend at the time. I caught myself at the last minute by remembering that coward ex, and I broke up with my then-boyfriend face to face when he finished his travels. AND IT SUCKED. But we're still friends, and we still like and respect each other.

(And we had amazing break-up sex afterwards.)

So, from personal experience, I say wait til they get home.
posted by minervous at 7:29 AM on August 15, 2009 [9 favorites]


I think you'll be happier with yourself and your own actions if you wait the week.
posted by xingcat at 7:30 AM on August 15, 2009


So do I take the coward's way out and email them

Sure, coward, you could do that. Let me help you start, "Dear John..."

You've just drifted. You think of them as the lovable, awkward friend. You've had a multi-year, monogamous relationship. I think that you need to do this in person. Break it off, If you want/need to. That's fine. But it sounds like this person may deserve more than an email.
Also, for selfish reasons, this sounds like something you may regret down the line. Not ending the relationship, but ending it in this way. I know that there are a couple of people I ended things with in ways that I later regretted for years.
posted by ActingTheGoat at 7:31 AM on August 15, 2009


I was broken up with after coming back from a vacation and though it sucked, it was way better than receiving an email while I was on vacation telling me we were broken up. You cn wait a week.
posted by otherwordlyglow at 7:32 AM on August 15, 2009


Yea, I'm going to agree with everyone else and say just wait. I mean, COME ON, don't be that guy.
posted by SkylitDrawl at 7:34 AM on August 15, 2009


Jesus. Don't be an asshole. Breakups are something you do in person.
posted by ook at 7:35 AM on August 15, 2009 [1 favorite]


I was once broken up with by phone text message.

Think about that. Sounds like a pretty crappy move, right? Now consider: Email is just a longer text message.

Wait a week, then do it in person. Don't accept lifts from his family to the station.
posted by Houstonian at 7:37 AM on August 15, 2009 [2 favorites]


Why do you want to ruin this person's vacation with your own inner turmoil? That's really not nice! Be a man/woman and tell him/her face to face.
posted by amanda at 7:40 AM on August 15, 2009 [1 favorite]


I can't see a single reason to justify breaking up via email except that you may be hoping that you'll never have to face this person in real life again. A relationship of the length you've described warrants a face-to-face, no two ways about it.
posted by Richat at 7:41 AM on August 15, 2009


If you can call, then call. But I know international calling can be expensive and that might not be a viable option. So waiting is the good thing to do here.

What you shouldn't do is greet him when he gets back like everything is still good between the two of you. Even greeting him at all might not be a good idea. Quick story for you on that front. My family moved before I went to college, and I left a girlfriend in the old city. Stopped by there on the way up to college to see her and it was like I never left. Talked to her on the phone the first day I was at college and found out we weren't together. Shitty way to find out, and I lost a lot of respect for her for basically leading me on like that.

In short, find some excuse to not go meet him. Make up something if you have to to get his family off your back about surprising him. They might figure that something bad is about to happen, which isn't exactly a bad thing because it is.
posted by theichibun at 7:41 AM on August 15, 2009 [2 favorites]


Break up with him in person, obviously. People shouldn't need to be told things like this by people on the internet.
posted by smorange at 7:49 AM on August 15, 2009


Hopefully by this point, you've been convinced that breaking up before your SO gets home would be a silly and needlessly cruel thing to do. To address the pick-up question - do whatever you can to avoid the family at that point. It's unclear if they want to come along on your trip to pick up the SO, or if they want you to come along on theirs.

If it's the former, shrug it off with a "oh no worries, I've got this." Bring SO home, without family, and have The Talk when you get home. If it's the latter, beg off by saying you have to work or do something for a family member, or something else unassailable. Arrange to meet up the next day to have The Talk.
posted by lunasol at 7:56 AM on August 15, 2009


anonymous: wait a week until they come back and fend off amorous advances

I suspect this is as much at the heart of your "dilemma" as anything else. You're horny, and you want to get laid. FFS, keep it in your pants another week. Sex will still exist then.
posted by mkultra at 8:03 AM on August 15, 2009


You owe your partner an in-person breakup, if your relationship has lasted any length of time at all. Speaking as someone who got a breakup e-mail from a former fiancee, I can tell you there's nothing that comes off more cowardly or trashy than a breakup e-mail or text message.
posted by middleclasstool at 8:09 AM on August 15, 2009 [2 favorites]


or wait a week until they come back and fend off amorous advances until I can sit them down and tell them in person in a quiet area?

I think people are misreading this part. My take was that it was more a concern of meeting the partner with parents/etc. in tow and having them be all "huggakissa!" and not wanting to have to fake it until the OP could take the partner somewhere and have The Talk with them.

My feeling, for what it's worth is that dropping a bomb like "our relationship is over" on someone who is travelling is very very bad and inconsiderate. It derails travel. It makes your need to end it into the priority, not respect for their feelings. It basically puts your feeling awkward ahead of their enjoyment of their trip.

So, yeah, wait until you're in person and have some sort of plan for what the two of you are going to do after you've had The Talk. If you're staying with your partner's family, make other arrangements. If they're staying with you, see if there's a way you can casually feel out other options for them. Above all, be decent about it and be crystal clear. This isn't going to be another "let's talk about the relationship" talk, this is the end of the relationship. I'm sorry, this isn't at all easy.
posted by jessamyn at 8:18 AM on August 15, 2009 [6 favorites]


My first real girlfriend dumped me at a train station by handing me a letter when she dropped me off and telling me not to read it until I was on the train. That probably wasn't the best way she could have handled the situation, but breaking up with your partner by email would be much, much worse. Decline his/her family's offer of help, meet him/her at the station by yourself, go out for coffee and have The Talk. It might wind up being kind of messy, but you'll feel better about yourself in the long run.
posted by The Card Cheat at 8:20 AM on August 15, 2009 [2 favorites]


Stop thinking about yourself. This is your last opportunity to treat your partner with the respect and dignity they deserve. Yes, it will hurt, but give them that last consideration. It totally totally sucks when someone you love turns chickenshit and can't confront the situation. It fucks up everything, even more so.

You have the hurt of the breakup, the loss, the mess, AND on top of that, the anger and pain of the cowardly way out, the betrayal, you think: couldn't they have scraped up whatever love was left inside their heart, just to breakup with me ... in person? Apparently not. *start sobbing*

You will have plenty of time to be as selfish as you want, after the breakup.

Put your partner first, this one last time. Give you and your partner an ending you can both think about without wincing (or crying) months later.
posted by Locochona at 8:37 AM on August 15, 2009 [7 favorites]


If you don't mind everyone you know thinking less of you, go ahead and send her that email.
posted by the bricabrac man at 9:09 AM on August 15, 2009


You've reached escape velocity and you don't know what to do with the energy that you've found to end the relationship. I suggest that you write down what you want to say - but do not send it.

Take this time to organize your thoughts and accept that you have waited this long, and you can wait another week. If you are worried - as I was - that you might chicken out and stay in this relationship which isn't healthy for you, tell someone you know and love and trust that you are ending your relationship. That will help make it more real for you without being cruel to the other person. Ideally, talk to someone about this who doesn't have an independent relationship with your partner, as that will put them in an awkward position.

As others have pointed out, emailing someone while traveling to break up with them is not just cowardly - it is cruel. Take your time to organize your thoughts, but be especially careful to avoid being hurtful. Because you seem to be considering doing this, which would merely serve to feed your anger, I suspect that you may have other issues that will come up in the course of the breakup. Things will be much smoother if you can address those first, set them aside for working on another time, and simply - and respectfully - tell them it is over. No anger, no laundry list of things they have done wrong, no list of your idealized partner and how they fail to live up to that, no slights or barbs. Just a straightforward, "I'm sorry this didn't work out, and Iwish you the best."
posted by greekphilosophy at 10:16 AM on August 15, 2009 [1 favorite]


Follow-up from the OP
Yes, I meant 'huggakissa', not leaping into bed with other people. I'm not in a good place emotionally right now, so hunting down other partners would be suboptimal and irresponsible. The awkwardness is that horny partner is voicing loudly their desire to come over to my place and screw me until the bed breaks ASAP (like as soon as they get back from the station, probably asking their parents to drop us both off at my dwelling), and I'm dealing with that flesh crawling feeling of not wanting them to touch me in that way ever again. Current patterns suggests that it'll be nigh on impossible to stop them from rushing over to my place as soon as they get back and trying to stay there for a week, short of being very blunt. Hell, past evidence says that they will basically try to force me into sex above and beyond any physical comfort on my part and unless I dump them mid-coitus, they will know something major is up. I'm trying to avoid a sore orifice or a hysterical person in my living space, as well as not leading them on with happy kisses in the airport.

And I'm being a big wuss about crying over how much I'll miss my shmoopy and how much this'll hurt them (there were good parts of the relationship) in between having panic attacks when they pop up online to tell me how loved I am because I just wish this was over. I freely admit I'm a big coward, since they nearly dumped me about a week earlier and I suggested we could work through things. We can't and I want to be responsible.
posted by jessamyn at 10:39 AM on August 15, 2009


I broke up with someone once by e-mail, a few years ago. I still feel bad about it.

I had my reasons: the relationship was long-distance, and she was planning a trip to come see me, and I didn't want her to blow a few hundred dollars on plane tickets for a trip I didn't want her to take. I couldn't bring myself to even break up with her on the phone.

I'm glad I got out of that relationship -- but I knew even at the time that that was the Wrong Way to do it.
posted by madcaptenor at 11:02 AM on August 15, 2009


Current patterns suggests that it'll be nigh on impossible to stop them from rushing over to my place as soon as they get back and trying to stay there for a week, short of being very blunt.

Meet in a public place.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 11:05 AM on August 15, 2009


I don't know, how much of his time does he spend glued to the computer? If its more real than actual life to him/her, then I say go for it.
posted by shownomercy at 11:05 AM on August 15, 2009


If you have made up your mind and this is what you want, you can always begin to keep a distance emotionally between the two of you when you chat/talk. There is no reason you can't do it. In fact, since you have made up your mind, its cruel to lead him/her on. You could just say that you two need to talk about things when s/he gets back. Don't let him/her think anything physical is going to happen when they arrive by doing your part so that the "current patterns" also have your say in it, and perhaps a subtle indication of things to come. By being quiet now, you are making things difficult for both of you.
In short, you don't wait one week + mid-coitus to break-up. You distance yourself emotionally in the week, you wait till s/he gets back and then drop the bomb asap, in as courteous a manner as possible.
posted by xm at 11:10 AM on August 15, 2009 [1 favorite]


Drop the bomb in person. Public place. No soft things like beds and cushions around.
posted by xm at 11:12 AM on August 15, 2009


Good freakin' grief, why the hell is basic human decency so hard to come by?

You've spent multiple years with this person. Why on earth would you think that an EMAIL is the right thing, or even the better thing than face to face?

Just wow. I'll leave it at that because all of the things I want to say fall so far outside the bounds of what is appropriate on Ask.Mefi it's not even funny.
posted by FlamingBore at 11:31 AM on August 15, 2009


Current patterns suggests that it'll be nigh on impossible to stop them from rushing over to my place as soon as they get back and trying to stay there for a week, short of being very blunt.

"I haven't eaten all day. Can we stop somewhere and eat food and catch up?"
posted by rokusan at 11:33 AM on August 15, 2009 [1 favorite]


From the OPs follow-up: I freely admit I'm a big coward, since they nearly dumped me about a week earlier and I suggested we could work through things. We can't and I want to be responsible.

I think this changes things. If you've been fighting and having relationship talks during their travels, it's already on the table, they're already stressed about the relationship, you need to be definite about what's going on in your mind to settle their mind. Plus this will let you both avoid extreme airport stress.

(And hell, you've been catching flack for the wandering eye: maybe this will give them the chance to have a sexy rendezvous on the last few days of their travels! Nothing like revenge breakup sex with a sexy foreigner!)

Write an e-mail (a phone call would be better, but) saying "Hey you know how a week ago we talked about how maybe this relationship needed to end? I know I said I thought we could work it out then, but since then I'm starting to think that I was wrong. I'm sorry I led you on. ... I would like to talk about this in person when you get back, but right now I'm not comfortable greeting you at the airport as my lover. I hope you'll have a great rest of your trip."

Then get up your gumption and have the difficult talk in person. But given that they tried to break up with you a week ago, you owe it to them to let them know that your mind is changing.

I think this is going to be jumped on, but it's what I would want/have wanted.
posted by besonders at 11:43 AM on August 15, 2009


Calm down FlamingBore - you're not helping. Obviously the poster is distraught and needs good advice - if you are so offended, why post? Besides, he's forcing sex on her. Decency already went out the window in this relationship. This is a salvage operation.

>>>

Dont do it over email, do it in person. Public place. Keep it brief. Be honest. Simply explain that you need space to deal with your personal problems so you can move forward and learn how to live a happy life. If a relationship is keeping you from a happy life, then it is over. It is just the way it is.

Do not let him come over. If he shows up after you've broken up, dont answer the door.

These things suck, I'm sorry for you. Good luck.
posted by rumsey monument at 11:44 AM on August 15, 2009 [1 favorite]


Yes, do it in a public place. It's always so much more delicious when someone starts crying in a public place.

Anyway. Something similar happened to me a long time ago, where I was dumped, said "wait we can work this out, come on!" and a week later realized he was right, and dumped him. Getting dumped was a big wake up call for me, but it took some time for it to sink past my inertia; the fact that I claimed to want to stay in the relationship suggested to him that I was more excited about the relationship than anything I had done in the previous several months indicated, and gave him false hopes, which I then punctured, leaving him extra hurt. Also, he interpreted it as me wanting to be the dumper, not the dumpee. None of that is terribly helpful as far as what to do, but perhaps the dynamics will be similar for you (or, hopefully, not).

But yes, break up with them as quickly as possible after the vacation. Ideally in a private (but not too awkward) place.
posted by Casuistry at 12:22 PM on August 15, 2009


Have someone at your house when you expect this person to arrive. This will forstall the sex thing. Then ask your soon to be former partner to come on a walk with you. Then you can walk, talk, and tell them how it is. When you get home, you will still have your friend there for you to talk to, and if necessary "escape" with for a postbreak up coffee so that your former partner won't try to come with you.
posted by St. Alia of the Bunnies at 12:51 PM on August 15, 2009


So what’s the most ethical way to avoid leading them on or building false hopes, while creating the least drama?

You can't control what another person does, or whether they want to cause drama. The best you can do is be honest and upfront and let them deal with in whatever they choose, but realize you don't have to be there for it or take any shit from them.

Call if you can or email them to call you ASAP, saying that ya'll have to talk and talk NOW. Have a friend nearby for emotional support if need be, but based on on this:
The awkwardness is that horny partner is voicing loudly their desire to come over to my place and screw me until the bed breaks ASAP (like as soon as they get back from the station, probably asking their parents to drop us both off at my dwelling), and I'm dealing with that flesh crawling feeling of not wanting them to touch me in that way ever again.
...email or call them now and break up with them and if you can, explicitly say that you're not interested in having sex, end of story. It's probably not going to be pretty, but at this point you're well within rights to put your feelings first.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 1:21 PM on August 15, 2009


I think you should break up by e-mail. Maybe right this second this person is holding themselves back from a really hot fling out of respect for you, and how pissed off would that make them? Plus how horrible to get home expecting a loving welcome, and get dumped instead? Plus getting broken up with not in person means that you can take all the time and processing that you need to respond the way you want to, instead of just sharing whatever your first emotional response is with someone who no longer wants to play such an intimate role in your life. Tell him/her that you understand if they have questions to ask or things to discuss and you will meet up with them for as long as they want when they get back.

In the other question about dumping someone now or waiting till exams are over, everyone was saying, now now now! For honesty's sake. For avoiding deceitful and misleading behavior. Etc. The only difference here is that you can't break up in person.

If he/she doesn't want to be dumped, they'll probably think of you as a jerk anyway, and why not if it helps them move on. So let them add an e-mail dumping to their mental list of why you were no good for them anyway.
posted by Salamandrous at 1:52 PM on August 15, 2009 [1 favorite]


Given that the two of you have already been discussing the status of your relationship, it is reasonable to mention 'the status' in you e-mails. Along the lines of "I've been thinking a lot about what you said and we need to talk a lot about things when you get back" Make a plan to sit down right away. Get the parents out of it. "Alex and have a lot to talk about and I'm sure you'll understand if ...."

Basically set the stage for a heart to heart, not for a lovey-dovey reunion.

But do NOT break up in an e-mail. Or on face book.

My daughter called up her best friend to ask "Why did your boyfriend's status change to 'single?' The poor girl was dropped on facebook. Yep, some people are like that . Don't be one of them.
posted by SLC Mom at 1:54 PM on August 15, 2009 [1 favorite]


Breaking up over e-mail is pretty low, and would suck pretty bad. However, the one possible upside of being dumped while you're traveling is the possibility of awesome rebound sex in a distant place.
posted by infinitywaltz at 2:15 PM on August 15, 2009


Call/email and say that you absolutely HAVE TO talk when ze gets home from the airport, before you go to your apartment.

Win/win. Sex is obviously off the table, and you can do the actual *breaking up* in person. Ze will probably guess what "The Talk" is about and can do hir best to prepare for it. But don't actually break up in the email, say that you really want to talk in person, and wanted to let hir know ahead of time so that ze wouldn't be taken off guard.

Man, I love opportunities to use gender-neutral pronouns.
posted by grapefruitmoon at 2:22 PM on August 15, 2009 [3 favorites]


Breakups must be in person. It's a basic rule of human decency. Period.
posted by rokusan at 3:06 PM on August 15, 2009


Given that the two of you have already been discussing the status of your relationship, it is reasonable to mention 'the status' in you e-mails. Along the lines of "I've been thinking a lot about what you said and we need to talk a lot about things when you get back" Make a plan to sit down right away.

Seconding this strategy. Let hir have a sense that there will be A Talk, not a lovey-dovey welcome back. But don't actually break up until you have a chance to talk.
posted by heatherann at 4:00 PM on August 15, 2009 [1 favorite]


It's really important to try to be as cold and rational about all this as you can - and I know it hurts enough that that's difficult. Think about your future happiness and the other person's future happiness, and don't get distracted by what are probably the strongest emotions you've felt in a good while. The biggest danger I see, at least at the moment, lies in doing something that I sense is probably part of a lot of the responses here: you're likely to moralize your situation and turn this all into a matter of 'duty' or 'responsibility, but try hard not to do that - it's just an endgame that leads almost nowhere ethically speaking. Saying things like 'I'm being a coward,' or 'I owe it to them,' or 'it would be so unfair of me / them to...' to yourself, for example, muddies a thought process that really has to remain clear and direct if you want to be able to do the right thing, the thing that's best for (a) you and (b) the other party, in that order.

There might be people who tell you that it's 'cowardly' or 'cruel' or 'disrespectful' to break up with someone via telephone or email, but those things aren't really true; there have been very brave, kind, and respectful people who made this mistake simply because they didn't know any better. The real reason why it's a bad idea to break up with someone via telephone or email is because these forms of communication are so often ambiguous. Anyone who's really been in love and faced the possibility of losing it knows the rush of thoughts that go through a person's mind at that moment: What did I do? Can I fix this now? What should I say? Is s/he just saying this because s/he wants me to make right some wrong? This can't really be the end - it's just a cry for help - it might just be a sign that we need to do x or y or z, right?

When you're in the thick of that rush of emotions, often the only thing that can bring you out of it is your now former partner standing in front of you looking you in the eyes and saying firmly: "I'm sorry, but it's over." Anger or bitterness as emotions can come and go, and something like an email (yes, even a very long email) can be written and sent in the heat of some passion that might dissipate later; no one understands this more clearly than a person who's being broken up with. In order to avoid days, weeks, months, even years of prevarication and effort on your ex-partner's side to rekindle this, it's essential to show that, far from being a momentary act of passion which you'll regret or an emotional cry for help, this is a carefully considered decision which you've come to after rational contemplation. That's the only thing that will shock her/him enough to begin the very important process of moving forward and building a separate life.

anon: To make matters worse, this person’s lovely family is trying to arrange for me to surprise greet my partner at the station, so it would help if I could figure this out before they kindly try to furnish me with lifts, as I doubt partner would be happy to see me if I’ve Dear Johned them

"Oh, that's a lovely thought, but I've already got some plans around that time. I'll just see X at Y like we were originally thinking I would."
posted by koeselitz at 5:47 PM on August 15, 2009 [1 favorite]


... and, not to be too disagreeable, but I don't think it's necessary to let your future ex-partner have email 'clues' as to what's going on. You're likely to be tempted to do this because it's hard not to be overcome by the notion that you're being somehow very cruel by not 'warning' them or that you're being a liar somehow very deceptive by not saying something now. Again, this is thinking emotionally.

It's good to avoid being deceptive, but here in the age of Twitter we constantly forget that the best way to avoid deceiving someone isn't to tell them everything we can; it's to stop talking entirely. That's not cruel when it's best for all concerned. I think you'd be best off doing everything you can to make your communication brief and succinct.
posted by koeselitz at 6:31 PM on August 15, 2009


If he/she doesn't want to be dumped, they'll probably think of you as a jerk anyway, and why not if it helps them move on. So let them add an e-mail dumping to their mental list of why you were no good for them anyway.

This is exactly how I feel. So from either side I just don't get the "must be done in person" sentiment. Marriage proposal? Yes, in person. Dog died? Yes, in person.

Dumping? Anyway way any how. Get it over with so that the dumpee can begin grieving and give him more reason to hate you, blame you for the failure of the relationship, and hopefully leave you alone.

A once and future dumpee myself, I prefer a phone call or e-mail than the pain and humiliation of an in-person meeting. In-person is a self-serving gesture to make dumper feel better about himself. Besides, once dumped I want to get away from dumper ASAP.

Either way in a sense is about what makes you think of yourself as a better person. I like to think of this from the dumpee's perspective: what makes the shock more bearable from the dumpee? In my opinion, make an unpleasant conversation easy on the dumpee (and yourself). Do it by phone or e-mail.

Here's an energetic vote for dumping by e-mail toward the end of his trip. That is, when you know he'll still check e-mail, but not so soon that it will have an impact on the trip itself.

Just be careful with e-mail. Write something that won't mortify you if he forwards it to all your friends. Send a short e-mail, then say, "I'll be out of town visiting (aunt, parents, friends, unspecified) next week (from day he returns for length of time of your choice) but give me after that (like two weeks from now) a call if you want." It seems cruel, but he's got to go through the grieving process without you, so might as well make it clear.

Sorry, I know how much this sucks, from both sides.
posted by vincele at 7:33 AM on August 16, 2009


The real reason why it's a bad idea to break up with someone via telephone or email is because these forms of communication are so often ambiguous.

I disagree with this. Any form of communication has room for ambiguity.
There's no reason any method of communication has to be ambiguous. Just take time and carefully decide what to say or write if you call or e-mail. Straightforward is best, and make sure you do insist you'll be out of reach for some amount of time, so that you do not hash and rehash what went wrong together.

The problem with face-to-face break-ups is that they often lead the dumper to make compromises or muddy the waters to prevent watching the dumped process pain and shock in real time. If your decision is coming out of nowhere (and it really doesn't sound like it is), then it will be all the harder to stick to your guns in person. That's why I suggest a kind but dispassionate e-mail or phone call that imposes a period of no communication for whatever reason. ("out of town," "friends visiting," etc.).

If the dumpee wants to talk to you about what happened "when you get back," he knows where to find you. I'd still have all these conversations on the phone.

If I hadn't been dumped so many times I would not have these insights. Still, everyone processes emotion in different ways, so another method might work better for you and your personality.
posted by vincele at 7:45 AM on August 16, 2009


There might be people who tell you that it's 'cowardly' or 'cruel' or 'disrespectful' to break up with someone via telephone or email, but those things aren't really true; there have been very brave, kind, and respectful people who made this mistake simply because they didn't know any better.

So, then it is a mistake? And they didn't know any better because what? .... they are immature as well? Makes sense.


The real reason why it's a bad idea to break up with someone via telephone or email is because these forms of communication are so often ambiguous.


Quite the opposite- depends on what you write. This and only this: People you liked enough, at one point, to date, deserve to be told in person.


If he/she doesn't want to be dumped, they'll probably think of you as a jerk anyway, and why not if it helps them move on.


...IF it helps them move on. If not, they could anything but move on.
posted by xm at 10:00 AM on August 16, 2009


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