Laurie Davis Edwards, founder of online-dating coaching company eFlirt, says clients commonly ask, „‚What do I do about this guy, and this guy, and this circumstance, and that one?
For Kathleen*, 34, a witty blonde with an advanced degree, dating on Tinder, Bumble, and Hinge has led to a few „special snowflakes.“ There was the first date who took her bat-watching in 90-degree heat. And the guy who got weepy on date two: „He told me he had a tattoo of his dead dog on his chest,“ she groans, „and that the dog was wearing a leisure suit.“
Both guys followed up with a „great time last night!“ text. Kathleen ghosted Bat Man but struggled with how to break it off with Suit Dog Guy. Even though they’d only met twice, they’d been messaging and emailing for weeks. „I feel like I’m constantly having to break up with guys who aren’t even my boyfriend,“ she says. „Do you ghost? Do you text good-bye? The struggle is real.“
Welcome to the Wild West of digital dumping. Yes, dating apps mean more swipes, more dates, and more options, but they can also mean more breakups. Women now have to master the art of rejecting Tinder matches, three-date wonders, and friends with benefits. ‚“
The etiquette on when to text and when to – gasp – pick up the phone and end things is „nerve-racking and awkward,“ says Hannah, 22, who has been on Match, Plenty of Fish, and Tinder. „I can avoid confrontations and hide behind a text message.“ Once upon a time, Berger dumping Carrie via Post-it – „I’m sorry. I can’t. Don’t hate me“ – seemed bleak. That was before ghosting. Now, Hispanic Sites singles dating website „unless you’ve had ‚the talk‘ and decided you’re official, it’s become socially acceptable not to owe people anything,“ says Tia, 23. She agrees ghosting is lame and rude, but has done it herself a few times when things were in the very early stages.
If the sight of them would trigger a shame spiral, consider a more humane approach, suggests Tara Fields, PhD, a licensed ily therapist and author of The Love Fix
Women are more likely to initiate breakups, according to a 2015 study in the journal Evolutionary Behavioral Sciences. But many men don’t process being dumped as quickly as women do, according to Craig Eric Morris, PhD, the study’s coauthor and an anthropology research associate at the State University of New York at Binghamton. Morris says that when asked if there was anything they wanted to share about their breakups, hundreds of men said they still have not recovered from a breakup a year or more afterward – or had never recovered. Not one woman out of thousands said she’d never recovered. „Men seem to hear they’re being broken up with, but they don’t completely believe it,“ he says. (Many women Morris has studied think through and mourn a breakup before moving on, while men tend to dive into the rebound phase and don’t truly process being dumped until much later.) All this considered, „it’s hard finding the words to tell them that they aren’t for you,“ Hannah says.
But it doesn’t have to be. Participants in a 2010 study at Illinois State University rated face-to-face breakups – in which the dumper explains the reasons openly and with a positive spin (i.e., thanking them for your time together) – as the most compassionate, compared with avoiding the person or ending things by text message or email. The lesson: Observe the golden rule and „break up with someone as you’d want to be broken up with,“ says Jamye Waxman, author of How to Break Up With Anyone.
When in doubt, try the cocktail-party test: If you ran into the person at a party in a few months, how would you feel? „Breakups are an opportunity to build your emotional muscle,“ she says. Look at them like practice: „Even when you find the one, there are going to be difficult, uncomfortable moments.“ In the meantime, here’s what to say to master the art of the breakup – any breakup.