dumped by email. Wrote a response. Send or not send?
December 29, 2013 6:08 PM   Subscribe

I was in a relationship with a girl for 3 months. In the final weeks she became increasingly distant, but assured me that it was only because she was stressed out and depressed and we were good. We spent Christmas together, then the day after she dumped me by an email that was full of bullshit . We talked for a bit after she sent the email, where I never said anything I would regret but only that it was unfair how she handled it. And I said I wasn't angry.

The next morning I realized that I was incredibly hurt. Breaking up is hard, but what's harder is that she treated me in such a cheap way, and I can say with clear conscience that I dated her with integrity.

I wrote an email response that basically said: I actually am angry. it wasn't the break up that was hurtful; it was how she handled it: lied me and strung me along (during which time she also watched me run around like an idiot trying to "cheer her up"), and then dumped me like a used napkin.

I don't want her back. I just...

In the three months we were together, I was kind and good to her in every way possible. I cherished her, and I was always honest. I never lost temper and was always respectful.

In the dump email she tried to justify the lying and the email with "I don't want to hurt you."

and I feel like she'll probably feel better about herself if I leave thing as it is (where I was like "I'm not angry"), but I also feel like she doesn't deserve this level of kindness. Why should she get to feel like she did the right thing? Why should she feel all good about herself not hurting me?

But in the mean time, I don't want to sink to her level.

Should I send the email? Should I not? Any thoughts would help. Thanks me-fi.
posted by atetrachordofthree to Human Relations (34 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
No. Move on.
posted by hydropsyche at 6:11 PM on December 29, 2013 [28 favorites]

Send the email to a null address or delete it. Don't send it to her. That ship has sailed.
posted by canine epigram at 6:12 PM on December 29, 2013 [1 favorite]

Nope! Be the better person. It doesn't feel good in the short term but always feels good in the long term.
posted by xingcat at 6:12 PM on December 29, 2013 [8 favorites]

You wrote the email that included what you wanted to say: mission accomplished. Sending it to her would not change anything to your situation. Just delete the email and move forward.
posted by aroberge at 6:12 PM on December 29, 2013 [2 favorites]

Don't send the email. It will just prolong the agony.
Living well is the best revenge.
posted by Snazzy67 at 6:13 PM on December 29, 2013 [2 favorites]

Good rule of thumb for anything, ever: If the only way this is going to help you is by making someone else feel worse, don't. Not even if they "deserve" it. You never really know what other people deserve, you don't know the totality of her life circumstances to have totalled up her karma for her. That's not your job, and it's not going to make you feel better in the long run.
posted by Sequence at 6:14 PM on December 29, 2013 [104 favorites]

Why should she get to feel like she did the right thing? Why should she feel all good about herself not hurting me?

Ideally: Because a good way to live one's life is to be better than the people who have hurt us; to do otherwise only brings more suffering into the world. Your desire is not to correct anything but simply to redress what you see as an unfair imbalance of unhappiness. It is healthy to want to do this. It is not healthy to do this. You are speaking from a place of hurt. Find your calm self and listen to it, because likely it is telling you that the best thing here is just to be done with it; just leave her to it.

Pragmatically: If you make an attempt to deny her this current way of making herself feel better, she will find another one, because that's what human beings do - and in fact they're very good at it. So why waste the effort on her?

Don't send it.
posted by FAMOUS MONSTER at 6:14 PM on December 29, 2013 [26 favorites]

If it makes you feel any better, she probably isn't feeling all that good about herself anyhow right now. And getting an email from you will only cause her to get her back up and justify to herself further why she left you - and she'll probably feel more like she did the right thing if you respond.

Instead of emailing her, call a friend, take a shower, watch a favorite tv show or read a book, play some video games... do something you enjoy tonight. Get a good night's sleep.

I'm sorry. Being broken up with in a callous way is so, so awful.
posted by sockermom at 6:16 PM on December 29, 2013 [9 favorites]

If you want to give her a 'piece of your mind' because you think that somehow doing so is going to show her, and illustrate her bad behavior to her -- don't. For one thing, people like that don't get it, are generally oblivious and thrive on negative attention. She won't sit there and go, 'oh, I was such a bad girlfriend, thanks for pointing it out.'

It looks like when she said 'jump!' you'd say 'how high?' -- You gave her a lot of attention. I guarantee that silence, or pretending to be fine and over it, will bother her and/or get to her much much more than sending this email ever will anyway. So don't send it.
posted by Dimes at 6:17 PM on December 29, 2013 [4 favorites]

Send it if your main goal is get your hurt feelings off your chest. Do not send it if your goal is control how she thinks.

She dumped you in a shitty way. Don't waste time giving her anymore of your attention. Heal your feelings of hurt and thank God she only wasted a short amount of your time.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 6:18 PM on December 29, 2013 [2 favorites]

It doesn't really accomplish anything. Nothing you say is going to change her perspective on what transpired and it may just in her mind reinforce what she did. Getting dumped hurts, but this woman obviously isn't the one for you. When someone dumps someone, it's almost always a selfish act -- but this is the sort of thing you have to be selfish about, and there's actually not really a great way to dump anyone. What I am saying is, of course you are hurt but any sense of outrage at her character is probably misguided. I'd just move on.
posted by AppleTurnover at 6:18 PM on December 29, 2013 [5 favorites]

Listen, in a few years from now, when you look back, you'll feel much better about yourself if you don't send that email now. If you send it, in a few years you'll look back and think, "Man, I was so good and kind, and then I was mean. I shouldn't kept quiet."

If you send it, you'll be sitting around waiting to hear back. If you don't hear back, you'll wonder if she trashed it without reading it. You might never know if she got it and if you wounded her sufficiently.

Break ups suck all around. You feel bad; she feels bad. Let it hurt, but also move on. Sending an email now is just another way of prolonging it.
posted by bluedaisy at 6:21 PM on December 29, 2013 [7 favorites]

In the three months we were together, I was kind and good to her in every way possible. I cherished her, and I was always honest. I never lost temper and was always respectful.

It's probably hard to understand, but just doing those things and acting that way doesn't mean you won't get dumped. People break up with others for all kinds of things, but these things are the basics, pretty much--people should do these things in every relationship, whether they last or not. Being patient and respectful and truthful. We all have to do that. And we all get dumped anyway--or---fun times--we dump the other person who is also patient and respectful and truthful.

All the way until we find someone to be with for the long haul.

When you're seeking compatibility, it's on a different level. Having the same vision of the future. Getting each other's jokes. Finding the same hateful things hateful. More than that. More than that I'm articulate enough to roll out right now.

But until you meet that person, a lot of things just sort of hurt a lot.

I'm really sorry you have to contend with this. It's the pits, it really is.

Edited for the major failure of not answering the question: No. You should not send it.
posted by A Terrible Llama at 6:23 PM on December 29, 2013 [12 favorites]

Ask yourself the following questions: Will sending the email make you feel better right now? Will sending this email make you feel better in a few days? Will sending this email make you feel better in a few weeks?

If the answer to all of those questions is yes then send the email. If you're not quite sure about how it will make you feel in a few days, wait a few days and see how you feel about not having sent it. Then ask yourself the same questions.

Notice how none of those questions are about her. This is completely about you. She gets to think how she thinks and feel how she feels. You might influence that slightly but it's irrelevant because you're not in a relationship any more.
posted by ddd at 6:25 PM on December 29, 2013 [1 favorite]

Honestly, you will feel SO MUCH BETTER about yourself, in a year, if you don't. And I will give you $20 if that doesn't end up being true.
posted by unknowncommand at 6:26 PM on December 29, 2013 [4 favorites]

thanks everyone. Not going to send it. You are the best, all of you, really. :)
posted by atetrachordofthree at 6:30 PM on December 29, 2013 [12 favorites]

I think you should email her a calm note: "I would have preferred that you handled this in person rather than over email. I also would have preferred that you tell me earlier even if it was just before Christmas. I know there is common wisdom that breaking up right before Christmas is not nice, but this way was actually even harder."

Don't say the accusatory things like being led on or treated like a used tissue.

I think it is good to stand up for yourself. There are times when I was mistreated and I felt like imposing silence on myself was just causing more pain to myself. Speaking up for yourself one last time can be cathartic. However, do it in the most mature way possible. Speak the way you imagine Obama might speak. Say mature things you would not mind your mom reading. Do not be harsh.

It is also good for her to learn that this was not a kind way to dump someone.
posted by cheesecake at 6:32 PM on December 29, 2013 [15 favorites]

You already told her that it was unfair how she handled it. She's probably already figured out that you actually are at least a little bit mad. And if she hasn't, she'll likely either not respond or take it the wrong way -- either of these could make you feel even worse about it. Then you're sending another email and you're into another whole thing. Just let it be.

Of course, if she ever tries to contact you again, you've got your email ready to go -- or at least ready to remind you of how you feel right now.
posted by originalname37 at 6:42 PM on December 29, 2013 [2 favorites]

My dad would always tell me that Abraham Lincoln would write the angriest possible letters, leave them on the mantelpiece over night and then throw them out the next day.

The only time I felt no guilt about sending a letter like that was when the person I broke up with had really deserved it. But even though I laugh about it years later, I think it would have been better to take the high road.
posted by steinsaltz at 7:50 PM on December 29, 2013 [2 favorites]

Sometimes, for some people, a little ritual is good. A former co-worker's ritual for angry/hurt/painful emails was write them, print them, and then tuck them in the back of the freezer as some sort of chilling voodoo or metaphorical calming down. She swore by it, and seemed very happy.
posted by Gotanda at 8:00 PM on December 29, 2013 [7 favorites]

I don't understand the unanimity of opinion that you should not send it. I always think there's a little bit of groupthink going on when this question comes up.

My thoughts are ...

There's no harm in sending a measured, civil email expressing your disappointment in how she ended things. Given that you spent several months in a relationship with her, you are entitled to express to her how you feel about the situation.
posted by jayder at 8:06 PM on December 29, 2013 [5 favorites]

There's no harm in sending a measured, civil email expressing your disappointment in how she ended things.
I don't totally disagree with this. However, personally I wouldn't waste the time or energy on trying to make someone feel bad about how they've dumped me. Either they already do, or they don't and they won't, and I'm still dumped.
posted by sm1tten at 8:19 PM on December 29, 2013 [2 favorites]

Y'know what? i vote that you send it. Sure, sending it won't change anything, but it'll make you feel like less of a victim to have your voice heard. I don't think that letting someone get away with hurting you is necessarily this wonderfully altruistic thing to do. Sometimes "rising above" is just "not standing up for yourself".

Don't expect her to respond or apologize though. Just feel the satisfaction of knowing she knows how you feel. Fuck being 'better'. Sending that email doesn't make you worse.
posted by Kololo at 8:54 PM on December 29, 2013 [2 favorites]

You accumulate entries on very reject lists just by being alive. What you've written won't get you off the list. Just put her on one of yours and move on. Nothing further need be said. But keep the eMail for future reference. In a while, when someone has come along and replaced her, you'll know you were the victim of great good fortune to have her cut you loose.
posted by ptm at 9:06 PM on December 29, 2013

Let's pick this up and put it on a totally different level - let's aim much higher.

Don't send it.


So you can grow. If you send that email, you have just defined yourself, no matter the content. Defined, means closed at least for that moment. How would she have taken it - doesn't matter, the point is, she would have read the email and thought "So that is who atetrachordofthree is". And that puts you in some kind of a box. Why do you want to be in a box?

But there is more. It's not even about her. It's about you. If you send that email - you have just defined yourself - for yourself. You are now in a psychological bind, subconsciously. You have just limited the options of who you can be - even to yourself. You have delayed the day when you have the opportunity to grow. Why? Because it's a natural instinct to defend who you are. You are now compelled to defend the person who sent that email - and defending means limiting flexibility, limiting who you can be, limiting growth, because you have to defend that person who wrote that email. You are now under enormous psychological pressure of the sunk costs fallacy. You are now subconsciously invested in defending the person who sent that email - with all the pettiness and hurt and lashing out and most importantly, the smallness.

Don't do that. Rather: transcend. Jump higher. Natural reaction: you're hurt, you strike back. When you're 5, you strike immediately: you're playing at a 5-year-old's level of life. You don't strike back immediately, instead like you started here, you restrain your first instinct, and lash out later (sending the email): level many adults do - but poor players. You restrain further - you don't send the email at all: you are now an elite player in the game of life. You've grown.

Here's the good news. There are more levels beyond that. How far can you go, young man? Aren't you curious?

This is something I've seen when I was working in an industry where there are tremendous egos and incredible assholes who have a lot of power. The usual thing is to work with these assholes, smiling through the tears, because that's where your paycheck comes from. I had many opportunities to see what happens. A percentage wash out immediately - they get treated like shit, can't take it, explode, tell off and... must leave the industry. The survivors again break into classes. A big percentage grit their teeth and develop ulcers. A smaller percentage climb higher - they see the assholes coldly, divorce their emotions and work with killer smiles - which is why you hear there are no "real friends in this business". But you can climb higher yet. See everyone as a human being in their own context. It doesn't matter what they say to you - they're just pieces on a board, you move them as much as they move you. It's just how life is.

Where will you find yourself?

So what to do now? Don't send it. Let her live with silence. You know in movies how the scariest things are those you don't see? Same here. Anything you write won't be half as strong as silence. She knows you were nothing but decent to her, and she knows what she did. And now you're silent. You don't lash back. She won't be able to put you in a box, know what you are thinking, she won't be able to "know" you. In psychological terms you have the upper hand... only see below:

But really, who cares? She's gone. So what do you do with the hurt? Use it. It's rocket fuel. Makes you go further and higher and to a better place. You can even picture it to yourself as: see girl what you are missing? Living well is the best revenge. You become a better guy. And then a funny thing happens. You really do become a better guy - because you no longer care to do it for 'revenge'. You see the reward is right there - you become a better you. Thank her for providing the rocket fuel to take you so much higher.

And when you look back, marvel: how could I have ever thought of writing that email, let alone sending it?! Oh, I'm so glad I transcended that. Seize the opportunity she gave you. No time to waste in becoming a bigger, stronger, better you - 2014 is just around the corner anyway.
posted by VikingSword at 9:19 PM on December 29, 2013 [11 favorites]

i really like what cheesecake said. your ex did handle this quite poorly and breaking up the day after xmas by email is a bit heartless. you may need to rewrite your email a number of times so it isn't accusatory. i'd also wait a week or two and see if you still feel you want to send it. i do think it is okay to give people feedback when they behave poorly. so many times we can't see our own stuff. the trick is not to be judgey but rather express your honest feelings without giving them a total guilt trip. make i statements rather than you statements. if you have a hard time standing up for yourself this can be a real growth experience. now, if you just want to go off on her and dump all over her then no absolutely don't do it.
posted by wildflower at 9:32 PM on December 29, 2013 [1 favorite]

You don't want to get back together (or at least that's what you're telling yourself). And her behavior reveals her as someone you never should have been with in the first place. There's nothing for you here. Nor is this an appropriate channel for your generous instincts (or instincts you're telling yourself are generous).

In my 20s and 30s I used to talk to people who'd wronged me, either to take them to task or to try to get beneath the reasoning or to try to work out my misplaced feelings of victim guilt by trying to "heal" them of their cruelty. It never helped me, and it sure as hell never helped them. It just extended my exposure to the sort of people who'd do you wrong. And that's a group of people I decided to spend less time engaging with rather than more. By the time I hit 40, I realized that time was short and stress is harmful and my attention and kindness should be directed toward people who aren't awful to me. It was one of the smartest turns I've ever made. I wasted a lot of time, energy, and pain in not having done it sooner.

People are mostly locked away in their mental cages. They can't even really see you. What they do and how they treat you has everything to do with them and very little to do with you (here's a slightly new-agey explanation of all that). They're working out their own stories, their own karma. Don't take stuff personally. Move on, and engage with nice people, help nice people, love nice people. If you judge wrong, then...oops....don't take stuff personally, move on, and engage with nice people, help nice people, love nice people. Rinse, repeat.

That said, you don't want to go too far the other way, and become someone who cuts out upon a glimpse of bad behavior, or upon experiencing any level of pain or irritation (cuz, obviously, no one's 100% nice). But you know what? Someone kicking you out of their life is not someone you'd be selfishly abandoning. Don't worry, you're definitely safe on this one.
posted by Quisp Lover at 10:05 PM on December 29, 2013 [5 favorites]

Unfortunately, the person who wrote that email to you has achieved what they set out to do - break it off with you. The others who responded that you shouldn't send your email are correct, because chances are that nothing you say will be taken in the spirit in which you are saying it. That person wanted out and did what they thought they had to do to get out, which was rude and inconsiderate and selfish in its execution. But hopefully you are seeing that in those actions this person is showing how not right for you she is, and now you are free to move on to find someone who *will* appreciate your efforts and in fact will make the same efforts for you.
posted by Otter_Handler at 7:33 AM on December 30, 2013

I hadn't read other replies when I posted mine (two above this one). I just wanted to point out that I'm offering essentiallly the opposite advice to this: "Speaking up for yourself one last time can be cathartic".

I learned over time that catharsis isn't worth much. It never rights the wrong (you can't rewind the past few weeks and have this NOT happen just by forcing the person to revisit it all...and, given that this person wants you out of her life, dragging her back for further engagement is not possibly going to make for good vibrations). At best, it creates more engagement with the sort of thoughtless, bad-acting person who'd make you feel a compulsion to "stand up for yourself one last time", and I found I preferred way LESS engagement with such people, rather than more. At worst, you get an argument, which is MORE engagement still. Or you get back nothing, in which case, what do you do then? Cathart again and again until you do get a response? Obviously, response is what this "catharsis" is about, otherwise you'd achieve it by screaming in your basement or wailing on a punching bag.

Don't "impose silence on yourself". Just move on, and find people more deserving of your time and attention to engage with.
posted by Quisp Lover at 9:09 AM on December 30, 2013 [2 favorites]

No. Do not send it. More importantly, don't take her back when she cries that she's made a mistake.
posted by crw at 12:13 PM on December 30, 2013

She dumped you. You can't hurt her. Even if you could, it wouldn't make you feel better. Either she already knows she hurt you, or she doesn't care.

Don't send it. Future you will thank you.
posted by J. Wilson at 12:42 PM on December 30, 2013

Don't send it. Kindness isn't about the recipient, it's about the person who extends it. There's nothing she "really needs to know."

In the long run, taking the high road will give you better service. Lick your wounds, and look forward to the day when you can look back on all this and be glad you passed up the opportunity to be nasty to someone you cared about.
posted by mule98J at 2:48 PM on December 30, 2013 [1 favorite]

A lot of responses are theorizing that she's rude, inconsiderate, and bad-acting. If that's true, then sending an email is unlikely to get you a reasonable response from her.

But it's also possible that she's trying to do the right thing but is unsure how to break up. There's plenty of advice that says it's cruel to dump someone a few days before Christmas. There's also advice that says it's cruel to tell someone that you might dump them but aren't sure yet, so you should avoid saying that until you're sure. She may have been trying to do the right thing, but the results ended up being more hurtful anyway. If that's possible, then she may react well to a mature email. I've had post-breakup exchanges where one person explained their perspective in a mature manner, and the other person said thank you and learned from it.
posted by cheesecake at 11:58 PM on December 30, 2013 [1 favorite]

I agree with both of cheesecake's excellent posts. I think it's important to stand up for yourself, to ADVOCATE for yourself, so that you won't feel doubly betrayed - by her, and then by yourself. But handling it with maturity and a little bit dispassionately will get your point across, but without causing to feel ashamed of yourself later.
posted by vignettist at 8:24 PM on December 31, 2013

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