As it turns out, ending a relationship during a pandemic is not an easy feat — but fortunately, video chat technology can make a breakup feel more personal than a cold text. These days, people are having first dates, engagement parties, and even weddings over Zoom — and now, they’re breaking up over Zoom as well. There’s even a new term for this trend: “zumping.” Fortunately, it is possible to pull this off with compassion — and I gathered some expert tips for Zoom breakups that can make a massive difference.
While it may not be ideal, there are situations in which ending a relationship over video chat is the only option. “Whether you are doing long-distance, or you are practicing physical distancing, breaking up in person may simply not be possible," says breakup coach Natalia Juarez. "As such, the next best thing is to have the conversation face-to-face over video."
Chelsea Leigh Trescott, breakup coach and host of the podcast Thank You Heartbreak, adds that if your relationship has been adding another layer of stress during this pandemic or you're feeling emotionally drained, then it's absolutely OK to step away from the situation to focus on your own well-being. If you're not currently quarantined with your partner, the only safe way to do that is to break up over Zoom. As Trescott points out, a Zoom breakup will feel more personal than breaking up over the phone (since you can see each other's faces, which offer a ton of non-verbal communication cues). As an added advantage, the very nature of the app (which is often used for work meetings) can help to keep emotions from escalating.
All that said, splitting up over Zoom is no easier than ending a relationship IRL. In fact, you'll have unique challenges to deal with, like figuring out whether to schedule your breakup and how to gain a sense of closure over video chat. Hopefully, these expert-approved tips will ease the experience for both of you.
Have a plan.
According to Trescott, it's worth taking some time to think about an appropriate time and location for your Zoom breakup. For example, if you know that your SO works from home, it might be best to have the conversation after they've signed off for the day so that your breakup doesn't distract them from their job. If they have a weekly call with friends or fam, you may even want to consider breaking up right before that so you know they'll be getting some support from loved ones.
In addition to working out the logistics, Trescott advises preparing yourself to lead the conversation.
"Don’t make the other person have to do the work of getting the breakup out of you," she explains.
That may mean writing down exactly what you want to say to initiate the split, or it may mean drawing up a list of your reasons for the breakup. You're certainly not obligated to keep justifying your decision to your partner, but if they ask why you want to end the relationship, it can help to have a visual reminder of your motivations and rationale when you're on the spot.
In order to show your partner the utmost respect during this Zoom breakup, you need to give them your undivided attention. That's why Trescott advises eliminating any potential distractions, such as by shutting off notifications and alerts on your phone and laptop.
"The easiest way to show compassion during a Zoom breakup is to be entirely present," she tells Elite Daily. "Don’t start opening new tabs on your computer or checking your mail. Close down your other applications, and turn your TV off. Don’t have anything else on your agenda, and just focus on relationship — even if it’s almost over."
Keep things informal.
As for whether you should schedule your Zoom breakup, you can totally decide ahead of time when you'd like to share your decision, but both experts say it's important that the conversation feels natural rather than forced.
If you and your partner have been having regular Zoom sessions, then Juarez recommends keeping things as normal as possible. There's no need to hit your partner with the dreaded "we need to talk" text — you can simply initiate the breakup during one of those regular calls.
However, if you and your partner haven't been Zooming, then Juarez says it's fine to schedule your call at a specific time. Since they may be caught off guard by your request to Zoom, you can say something along the lines of, "I feel like it would be helpful to talk face to face."
Get to the point.
Finding the right moment to end a relationship with someone can be tough, and it's no different over Zoom. You might not want to blurt your decision out right at the top of the call, but you also don't want to get too carried away with casual chit-chat to the point where it feels awkward or uncomfortable to break up. Juarez recommends allowing yourself a bit of small talk to get situated at the beginning of your Zoom call and then cutting to the chase as quickly as possible.
"Let the other person know that there’s something you want to talk about and then be direct in letting them know you feel it’s best to break up."
Remember — while you may be tempted to soften the blow with wishy-washy or sugar-coated statements about what the future holds, ultimately, the kindest thing to do is to be as direct as possible.
"Have conviction in your decision so that you don’t leave the other person with a sense of false hope that will make it more difficult for them to move on," adds Trescott.
Acknowledge that the circumstances aren’t ideal.
Under different circumstances, you may have chosen to break up in person — and knowing this might be reassuring to your partner.
"Call attention to how awkward this format is and explain why it feels like the best option for your breakup," advises Trescott.
Acknowledging that the conditions of your breakup might be different if your situation was different won't take the sting out of this conversation completely, but it might help to put your partner's mind and heart at ease.
Initiating a breakup over video chat can make it difficult for some to feel a sense of closure, but keep in mind that your safety should always be your number one priority. Even if your partner pleads to see you in person, Juarez says it's important to stick to your guns — at least for the time being while social distancing guidelines are still in effect.
"If you or your partner needs it, leave room to circle back to each other once it’s safe to do so in order to have closure or even just to end the relationship with a hug," adds Trescott.
Of course, if you think it could be harmful to your own healing process or you simply don't feel comfortable meeting in person at a later date, you have a right to honor those feelings.
Every relationship is unique, so the specifics of how you handle your breakup convo over Zoom will obviously be up to you. As long as you can clearly communicate your decision and show compassion for your partner's feelings, you can leave that video chat knowing that you gave your former relationship the respect it deserved.
Natalia Juarez, breakup coach
Chelsea Leigh Trescott, breakup coach