Breaking up over text never really seems like an ideal situation. But sometimes, it might be the best you can do. If there are distance or time constraints, or if the relationship really wasn’t very serious, or if you feel unsafe about handling the situation in person, a breakup text might be the way to go. In general, the best breakup text to send requires careful thought and analysis before you take the leap. It’s important to think through the nature of your relationship to determine the least painful way to move on.
First of all, don’t beat around the bush. Elle Huerta, CEO and Founder of Mend, says direct is best. “Emotions and contexts are missing from text messages, and that’s why it’s important to be more clear than you might otherwise be,” she notes. Remember that if you’re planning to break up with this person, you need to do so explicitly. Don’t leave them feeling like there might be room for interpretation, because this will only create confusion down the road.
Michelle McSweeney, linguist and digital communication expert, suggests thinking about your partner and how they might react to the message. “Consider how the other person will receive the message,” she says. “Even though you may have negative feelings towards them now, think about the person you were first attracted to, because you will write a more generous, kind message.” Unless this person has done something to seriously wrong you, you want to minimize the hurt you may cause. Especially if this might come as a shock to them, tread carefully to avoid coming across as cruel or unfeeling.
Here’s a template McSweeney suggests to keep your breakup text clear and concise:
Hi [NAME], You may already sense this, but I need to end our relationship. I do not want to hurt you, but I am no longer invested in our relationship, and that is unfair to both of us. I hope you understand and wish you all the best.
Obviously, you can customize this as needed, but it’s a good place to start. It may seem awkward to be so formal, but this is actually a good thing. “Erring on the side of greater formality will help your message be taken more seriously and set it apart from other messages you may have sent,” McSweeney says. “Many people think that the period communicates anger, but in the context of a formal message, it an also communicate seriousness or sincerity.”
One other thing to remember is that you’re giving your ex a written version of your breakup, which they might go on to share with friends or online. Even if this feels like a conversation between the two of you, you can never 100 percent guarantee that digital communication is totally private. “Keep in mind that this message will likely be referenced in conversation and may be read by your ex's friends,” McSweeney warns. “Fewer details, explanations, or caveats will give less to dissect and discuss.” Keep things simple, but also straightforward.
If you’re hoping for a lengthy, deep conversation about all the reasons you’re breaking up, text messaging isn’t the way to go. A text only works if you are sure you’re ready to cut off the relationship completely. If your safety is at stake, or if you’re feeling afraid in any way, consult a professional before you do anything that could incite a strong emotional reaction from your ex.
In general, it’s best to make the message clear, formal, and as kind as the situation allows. And if meeting in person feels like a better option, always go with your gut. Every relationship is different and may necessitate a different method of breaking up. Do what feels right for you to help you both move on in the healthiest way possible.