Skip to content

Is it cowardly to break up with someone via text? (No)

McKinley Valentine — 2 min read
Is it cowardly to break up with someone via text? (No)
Photo by Towfiqu barbhuiya / Unsplash

Hi this is a PSA

If someone has ever been emotionally or physically abusive towards you, they’ve abdicated the right to an in-person break up.

If you have ever been emotionally or physically abusive towards your partner, you’ve abdicated the right to an in-person break up.

It doesn’t even have to be aggressive as such. For example, if, whenever you try to bring up an issue with them, it somehow gets twisted back around so you’re defending yourself or placating them? If you know they will try and guilt you and manipulate you and doubt your own feelings?

Then you have every reason to avoid a conversation, because you might find yourself somehow still in the relationship at the end of it.

A text break-up is a sign that one person did not trust the other (good reason to break up, hey). So, okay – why would you automatically assume that mistrust was irrational? Maybe be at least open to the possibility that the mistrust was well grounded?

So if you hear someone – a friend even – say “they broke up with me by TEXT”, don’t immediately jump to the assumption that the break-upper is a disrespectful coward. It’s for sure possible!

But a very real possibility is that the break-uppee has given signs that it would not be safe to have a proper conversation with them. Hell, maybe they have even tried to do it in person, and been talked out of it.

If someone breaks up with you via text, check in with yourself or a trusted friend to make sure you haven’t acted in emotionally unsafe ways. THEN you can use it as an excuse for why they’re a terrible person and you’ve dodged a bullet.

Other, more benign possibilities:

  • They thought it would be cruel to make their partner get all dressed up and taken to a restaurant just for a break-up.
  • Through no fault of the other person, they did not think they would be able to go through with it face-to-face.

Obviously some people are just callous assholes but it's weird and hurtful to assume that on no other info when the other possibility is they've been emotionally abused!

For what it’s worth, I would prefer to be broken up with over text just so I can ugly-cry on my own and then talk to them later with some dignity and hauteur. Ideally they would text me but be like “we can meet up to talk about it if/when you want”.

(All couples should have a conversation where they discuss their preferred break-up method – like on the fifth date or something, as standard practice.)

This piece was originally published in The Whippet #12 – subscribe to get the next one in your inbox!

Unsolicited AdviceEQ & Interpersonal


Sign in or become a Whippet subscriber (free or paid) to add your thoughts.
Just enter your email below to get a log in link.