Breaking Up Sucks, and So Do I

At the risk of, again, reciting news that is ancient: breaking up with someone is not fun.

I mean, I maintain that I’d rather be the one rejecting than the one getting rejected. But at least I’m familiar with that latter genre of disappointment: I know how to handle it. (Friends, food, beer, blog—more or less in that order).

When it comes to the dumping, I’m rusty. I’m loathe to let something about which I feel lackluster go on past the point when it can, feasibly (if still a bit embarrassingly) fizzle out.

But, to be honest, breaking things off has never been my strong suit.

I did, after all, break up with my first high school boyfriend, Andrew, via his best friend’s beeper. I vividly recall standing in my parents’ kitchen and paging the friend, closing the bathroom door for privacy as I had an extended conversation with him about how Andrew and I would both (at fifteen) really be better off, before breaking the news, across a crappy cell phone connection, to Andrew himself.

Since then, my lowest moment in dumping was a guy named Pete: a cute drummer I met through a co-worker in Washington. After a couple of months I started to lose interest, and rather than tell him so I simply began ignoring him. He quickly called me out on acting aloof and then had a tantrum in my living room when I finally told him we were finished.

Neither experience seems to have been especially scarring for them; I know both these men to have gone on to much more serious, stable and presumably happy relationships.

(By extreme coincidence, I must here acknowledge–for the sole reason that I don’t know when else I’ll have the chance–that both of them happened to date, at different times, the same–totally random–woman. A woman who might look like me if I were several inches taller, much more blond, and had a completely different face.)

And yet, still, I would not place either of those breakups among my finest moments.

And I’d have to say the same about the evening last week when I broke things off with the guy I’ve been seeing for the past couple of months. Via email.

I know.

But, bear with me. At least I did not go with my initial plan, which involved being unavailable until going home for break and hoping he’d get the memo. I figured if things weren’t clear by the time I got back, I’d tell him there was a guy back home (true) to whom I’d decided to commit (false).

Several of my friends told me it would be fine to blow him off.

“He’ll get the idea,” they said. “That’s what happens when you date someone.”

Both of which may have been true. And in total, brutal, honesty, if I hadn’t been kinda anxious to write about the situation, I may have been more inclined to heed their words. But let’s not get carried away in conditionals.

Because then, on the other end of the spectrum, were two other friends, R and A:

“I can’t believe you broke it off with him via email!?!?!” R wrote (in, by the way, an email). “Poor guy!”

And A (over chat): “AN EMAIL!?!”

The thing was, as I wrote to him in said email, despite dating for almost two months we’d never spoken on the phone. Only texted. (This has nothing to do with why I broke it off, which is another story, but it certainly didn’t help the case.)

Anyhow, it felt strange to call just for the sake of ending things. And I honestly didn’t have time to see him before I left.

The price I payed for this, rather tactless, tack is that I spent the better part of a week riddled with guilt: an iPhone toting techie, I was pretty sure that the guy’s lack of initial response meant I’d never know how his reaction. (If I wasn’t a little bit afraid to know, of course, I would have been a big girl and called him.)

But it turns out that, on the judgment continuum of my behavior, he leaned towards approval. Almost a week after my note, he forwarded me a link.

“Appreciate the forthrightedness,” he wrote.

So: not my finest moment, perhaps. But also, according to the audience that matters most, not quite the worst.


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6 responses to “Breaking Up Sucks, and So Do I

  1. Bonnie

    I think e-mail is a considerate and responsible method of conveying difficult information. It gives the sender and the receiver time to craft considerate and non-emotional responses. How many times have we all said something we regret in the heat of the moment? E-mail gave him the chance to decide how he really felt and get back to you. You may have saved him an embarrassing outburst that he would have surely regretted later.

  2. Broke it off via text…the day after Christmas…last year.
    So…don’t feel too bad.

  3. I have “broken it off” through e-mail even though there was nothing to be broken to being with. This guy decided that I was his girlfriend simply because we went on one date where we didn’t kiss or anything all! I decided he wanted a relationship more than I did and he wanted to move way to fast for me. I was a huge chicken and I “broke up” with him through e-mail. Don’t worry you aren’t the only one!


    I think people prefer remote breakups. Who wants to look at the person giving you the bad news when they’re giving it to you? How do you leave the room?

  5. suzanne

    I’m kind of old school about break ups. I think they should be done face to face despite the discomfort. Often someone’s reaction to a break up will reconfirm your decision to do the breaking. While techno breakups are easy-they also just flap out there in breeze. There’s no back and forth, no explanation, and no confirmed understanding of what has just occurred. While it’s easy to do the breaking via text or email, the lack of response or ‘knowing’ how the other party reacted I think is much harder. That’s my fifteen cents anyways.

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