It's not you, it's me: How not to break up with someone

Is a phone call or a text ever an appropriate way to end things?

What’s the best way to dump someone? Before my boyfriend starts to panic, I ask not out of necessity but curiosity.


Of course, there are plenty of bad ways to break up with someone, as demonstrated by Steve Ladner, a BBC radio DJ, who apparently broke up with his girlfriend, MP Tracey Crouch, via text while she waited to take part in a House of Commons debate. Tracey was said to be sobbing in the lobby after her boyfriend of two years sent her a text saying: “When you get back, I will have packed my bags and left.” It’s thought Steve ditched Tracey in favour of his wife, moving out of the house they shared. (Tracey, hun, he’s not worth it.)

Unfortunately, Steve isn’t the first person to handle a break-up with all the sensitivity of a raging bull picking out china patterns.

I have a friend who was dumped by her boyfriend of seven years 12 hours before he got on a flight to San Francisco. Needless to say, they haven’t seen each other since. Another friend broke up with his girlfriend six months into a 12 month tenancy and had to spend the rest of the year living in a tent in the living room. Even my secondary school boyfriend took the cowardly way out, asking his best friend to dump me with the immortal words: “Sorry, he fancies your sister instead.” 

Of course, the initial gut-wrenching split is going to be raw, painful, and peppered with expletives, but surely there’s a way to make the whole thing a little more bearable without resorting to texts, tweets and terrified best mates?

“The worst way to hear it is from somebody else,” says Andrew G Marshall, marital therapist and author of Heal and Move On: Seven steps to recovering from a break-up, who has seen his fair share of messy break-ups.

“I’ve known people send texts saying “I’m going to break up with her” but accidentally send the message to their girlfriend!”

Remote dumping is not a new thing. Sex and the City protagonist Carrie Bradshaw was famously dumped on a Post-It which read, “I’m sorry, I can’t, don’t hate me”, and musician Phil Collins allegedly told his wife of 12 years he wanted a divorce by way of a fax.

“Men in particular are not very good with women’s anger,” says Marshall. “To actually see how much they’ve hurt someone is extremely painful and upsetting. A lot of men don’t have the words to explain why they want to split up.”

A recent study by Pew Research Center, however, found that although both sexes are guilty of breaking up with someone online, women are actually more likely to resort to sending a text.

“It depends on the duration of the relationship as to whether it can be a phone call or a text,” says Christine Northam a Relate counsellor. “It’s bad manners to do it on social media though. Try to imagine what the other person will feel and then make sure the way you present it is as kind as it can be.”

But even if you do pluck up the courage to talk to your partner face to face, is there ever an appropriate time to drop the bombshell? Statistics compiled from Facebook status updates show that two weeks before Christmas is the most popular time to dump someone, closely followed by the days just after Valentine’s Day.

The sensible way to end a relationship, according to Marshall, is to talk things through in a calm, rational manner.

“Ending a relationship takes time,” he says. “You think that once you shoot the firing gun, that’s it, but that’s not the case. It’s the beginning of a process.”

Maybe someone should mention that to our friend Steve.

PROMOTED VIDEO
Life and Style
ebookNow available in paperback
ebooks
ebookPart of The Independent’s new eBook series The Great Composers
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs General

    Tradewind Recruitment: English Teacher

    Negotiable: Tradewind Recruitment: My client is an excellent, large partially ...

    Tradewind Recruitment: Science Teacher

    £90 - £140 per day: Tradewind Recruitment: I am currently working in partnersh...

    Tradewind Recruitment: Year 3 Primary Teacher

    £100 - £150 per day: Tradewind Recruitment: Year 3 Teacher Birmingham Jan 2015...

    Ashdown Group: Lead Web Developer (ASP.NET, C#) - City of London

    £45000 - £50000 per annum + Excellent benefits: Ashdown Group: Lead Web Develo...

    Day In a Page

    Isis hostage crisis: The prisoner swap has only one purpose for the militants - recognition its Islamic State exists and that foreign nations acknowledge its power

    Isis hostage crisis

    The prisoner swap has only one purpose for the militants - recognition its Islamic State exists and that foreign nations acknowledge its power, says Robert Fisk
    Missing salvage expert who found $50m of sunken treasure before disappearing, tracked down at last

    The runaway buccaneers and the ship full of gold

    Salvage expert Tommy Thompson found sunken treasure worth millions. Then he vanished... until now
    Homeless Veterans appeal: ‘If you’re hard on the world you are hard on yourself’

    Homeless Veterans appeal: ‘If you’re hard on the world you are hard on yourself’

    Maverick artist Grayson Perry backs our campaign
    Assisted Dying Bill: I want to be able to decide about my own death - I want to have control of my life

    Assisted Dying Bill: 'I want control of my life'

    This week the Assisted Dying Bill is debated in the Lords. Virginia Ironside, who has already made plans for her own self-deliverance, argues that it's time we allowed people a humane, compassionate death
    Move over, kale - cabbage is the new rising star

    Cabbage is king again

    Sophie Morris banishes thoughts of soggy school dinners and turns over a new leaf
    11 best winter skin treats

    Give your moisturiser a helping hand: 11 best winter skin treats

    Get an extra boost of nourishment from one of these hard-working products
    Paul Scholes column: The more Jose Mourinho attempts to influence match officials, the more they are likely to ignore him

    Paul Scholes column

    The more Jose Mourinho attempts to influence match officials, the more they are likely to ignore him
    Frank Warren column: No cigar, but pots of money: here come the Cubans

    Frank Warren's Ringside

    No cigar, but pots of money: here come the Cubans
    Isis hostage crisis: Militant group stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

    Isis stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

    The jihadis are being squeezed militarily and economically, but there is no sign of an implosion, says Patrick Cockburn
    Virtual reality thrusts viewers into the frontline of global events - and puts film-goers at the heart of the action

    Virtual reality: Seeing is believing

    Virtual reality thrusts viewers into the frontline of global events - and puts film-goers at the heart of the action
    Homeless Veterans appeal: MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’

    Homeless Veterans appeal

    MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’ to help
    Larry David, Steve Coogan and other comedians share stories of depression in new documentary

    Comedians share stories of depression

    The director of the new documentary, Kevin Pollak, tells Jessica Barrett how he got them to talk
    Has The Archers lost the plot with it's spicy storylines?

    Has The Archers lost the plot?

    A growing number of listeners are voicing their discontent over the rural soap's spicy storylines; so loudly that even the BBC's director-general seems worried, says Simon Kelner
    English Heritage adds 14 post-war office buildings to its protected lists

    14 office buildings added to protected lists

    Christopher Beanland explores the underrated appeal of these palaces of pen-pushing
    Human skull discovery in Israel proves humans lived side-by-side with Neanderthals

    Human skull discovery in Israel proves humans lived side-by-side with Neanderthals

    Scientists unearthed the cranial fragments from Manot Cave in West Galilee