You know that episode of Seinfeld, where Elaine is going out with a much older man and is wondering if she should break up with him? In the process of telling Jerry about it, she decides the relationship is over. So then comes the big question. How should she do it? Or in this show about social etiquette, the bigger question is, what are the break up “rules”?
Here is how their conversation went:
“Do I have to break up with him face to face, or can I just wait and do it over the phone?” asks Elaine.
“Well, how many times have you been out with him?” Jerry asks.
“Seven,” says Elaine.
“Face to face,” replies Jerry.
“Oh! Seven dates is a face to face break up?”
“If it was six I could have let you go.”
While breaking up with someone you’ve met in person and dated in person is a whole mess by itself–as in the case of Elaine and her so-called boyfriend–just imagine how confusing it is to “break up” with someone you’ve never even met!
If you are doing the online dating thing, you’re playing by a whole different set of rules. Or, are there really any rules?
Let’s say you’ve met a great guy or girl via an online dating site, and things start progressing. You both have a lot in common and you really enjoy sending each other emails and doing online chats. After a while you establish a regular day and time to chat, maybe even everyday.
This little relationship–whatever you want to call it–is going well. You can talk about anything and everything, and you really look forward to your online talking. In fact, things continue in this fashion for several weeks or even months. (Once I did this with a guy in Europe for almost a year.)
You even tell your best friend about this new person. “So are you guys dating or..?” You aren’t really sure how to answer that question. It is after all, just talking, and it’s all online. However, there are some definite feelings there.
But then, for some reason or other, things change. Your feelings toward this person change, or you meet someone else, or you find out something about this other person that is a deal breaker. The reason doesn’t really matter.
All you know is, you need to “break up” with this online person who is more than just a friend, but not quite a boyfriend or girlfriend. An online fling, perhaps? Anyway, your heart has moved on, and so now comes the hard part.
How do you ‘break up’ with someone you’ve been talking to online?
There are a few options, and we’ll let you decide which way you think is best.
Ok, so this isn’t necessarily a “good” option, but you’d be surprised how many people in online relationships do this. It’s the easiest way emotionally for the breaker upper, but probably the worst way to receive the news on the other end. Obviously, doing this for an in-person relationship would be difficult, but online it’s pretty easy. There are down sides; you can’t really use that dating site where you met the other person anymore. And it’s always possible that you will “run into” him or her on another dating site. Plus, it’s just bad form. So definitely try another way.
Taper It Off
If things are pretty passionate between you two, this may be a good option. Cutting it off quickly can really hurt. Tapering it offer still hurts, but at least the other person won’t feel so blindsided.
Tell Them There is Someone Else
In cases where this is a true statement, then this is totally acceptable. While it’s not easy to face, at least the other person will know why and have some closure. Hopefully they can move on without too many hard feelings. Please don’t use this as an excuse, however, if there really isn’t someone else.
Obviously, this is the best option–though quite possibly the hardest. How do you tell someone you don’t want to talk to them anymore? What will they say? Will it get weird? All good questions, but don’t let them deter you. The important thing is that the other person has the right to know your feelings, and then you both can walk away with a clean conscious and a clean slate for the next relationship that comes.
So type out that email until it is just right, explaining that things have changed and you think it’s best if you don’t talk anymore. List reasons, or don’t. Just don’t ever leave someone hanging.