Why is breaking up face to face considered good form?

Why is breaking up in person considered the only respectable way to end any and all romantic relationships? I can understand if it had lasted more than several months or had been particularly intense at some point. But why is it considered selfish and bad form for ALL relationships to end in some media, in this day and age when on-line personals are accepted and common? Let’s not get carried away. I am not saying that a text message to end a marriage is acceptable - far from it. Please hear (read) me out.

I for one, given that it was a reasonably short relationship where the three words had not been exchanged, would prefer to be broken up with via email, provided the guy provided a reason and allowed some questioning back if necessary. I would rather not fall apart in front of the person. I could retain some sort of dignity by responding by email once I had put myself back together as necessary (or have enough time to come up with a good zinger if warranted, whereas I am not as fast on my feet in person). I would rather not see his uncomfortable body language as he tried to tell me. I would likely not let him explain much because I would want to get out of the situation, even though I would be curious later about what I had prevented him from saying. (Yes, I tend to avoid conflict…) The email surprise factor would rather stink, I’ll give you that - to come into your mailbox and find it there, but that “oh crap, not now” factor would apply just as well in person, I would think. But a well thought out, gently written letter would be the easiest impact on the receiver, to my way of thinking.

So, why is it considered such a courtesy to break up in person? I am wondering why people are offended to be broken up with in any other fashion. Please try to avoid “just because that is the way it is done” answers. Society is changing, so shouldn’t the acceptable practices change with it?

Breaking up face to face is the hard way. And if you’re going to hurt me, you damn well better do it the hard way.

It’s a matter of respect.

If you* can’t find the time to meet me in person (barring a long distance relationship) and tell me to my face that you no longer want to be with me, you come across as disrespectful and as a coward.
obviously, this is a generic ‘you’… unless you’re breaking up with me, Thinkstoomuch? :eek: :smiley:

Having been dumped on the phone as often as in person, I have to say that I’d rather get dumped in person. For me it was simple – the more ways I could tell my dumpers’ intentions, watching their eyes, their body language, the tone of their voices, etc., the easier it was to believe they really meant it.

Besides, if you had invested any significant time in a relationship, would you really want to see it ended with an email headed “I’m breaking up with you”?

And frankly, the dumper does not want to give you the opportunity for a “good zinger.” The goal is to make a clean break and get the hell out of there.

No FilmGeek, I wouldn’t break up with you. :slight_smile: I can see the coward part, but that’s what I am trying to get down to - WHY is it disrespectful? Why isn’t it worse to be looking forward to a date to get there just to get broken up with? Wouldn’t it be better to go through with the date as sort of a one last hurrah without saying anything, then breakup? Wouldn’t that be a more respectful use of your time?

Well, I can see where phone pretty well sucks no matter what - you have all the awkwardness of being in person - no time to put yourself together to make sure you are saying what you want to be saying clearly - without the benefit of body language.

It would serve the dumper right to give you that opportunity is my point if they choose not to be face to face.

I am talking not a significant amount of time in the relationship, as stated in the OP. Let’s say you met on-line, had seen each other in person about every other week for a couple of months, talked on the phone every third day (and about nothing but mundane prattle), and had not exchanged expressions of love.

On a practical note, I’d prefer not to put my break up words in an email that could get forwarded to who knows who!

Meeting someone and breaking up face to face basically says “I still respect you enough to put myself in the uncomfortable situation of breaking up with you in person and dealing with your reaction.”

I’ve been broken up with by phone and it does seem disrespectful. There’s a lot of ego busting that occurs when you’re dumped. To add onto it that the person can’t even bother to see you that last time just adds to it. Looking back on it (after the emotion has gone away), there’s not a lot he could have said in person that couldn’t be said over the phone.

However, being dumped in that way left me wondering: was the sight of me so unpleasant that he can’t stand to meet me one last time? am I not worth an hour or so of his time? was he afraid of my reaction? do I smell bad? (okay, kidding about that last one). Not exactly logical thoughts. But I don’t really think logically right after someone breaks up with me!

It’s not always neccessary to meet someone if you haven’t invested much in the relationship. My rule is that if there’s a reasonable expectation that we’ll be seeing each other in the future, I’ll break up in person. If it’s only after a couple dates or so, it’s not required.

When you break up with someone, the nicest message to give them is that they are a lovely person and an absolute pleasure to spend time with, but for whatever reason you don’t think the two of you are well-suited for romance. Hence, the common cliches: “it’s not you, it’s me”, “let’s just be friends”, “this is just a bad time for me to be in a relationship”, etc. Even if they’re absolute lies, they’re kinder than telling an otherwise nice person that their laugh grates on your nerves or they’re awful in bed.

It’s hard to deliver this message convincingly if you deliver it remotely and/or non-interactively. Sometimes you simply can’t get together, in which case you should call them, but face to face is best. Fact is, it sucks to be dumped. By taking the time to talk to them, you’re showing that you still value them enough to spend time making yourself available to explain yourself and apologize if you hurt them. Non-interactive forms of communication like email are especially weak because you’re not willing to spend the time to have a conversation about your feelings, you’re simply notifying them of the termination of your relationship. You’re suddenly no longer equals who were spending time together, you’re the cable company notifying them that you’re cancelling their service. They’re then in the position of supplicant – if they want to discuss things further, they have to get a hold of you.

The problem is that a relationship, even the break-up, involves some pretty intimate communication, and that involves more than mere words.

The worst break-up I’ve survived was when the bastard called me at work, and all my co-workers were within earshot of my end of the conversation, so there was no way for me to really respond to what I was hearing. To make matters worse, it was the night, in 1986, that the Mets won the World Series (I was living in NYC at the time). So while I was in the middle of this break-up phone call, everyone around me was cheering for the Mets.

It seems kind of funny looking back, but it wasn’t funny at the time.

If you’re old enough to be in a serious relationship, you should be mature enough to end it like a responsible adult.

Ten or fifteen years ago (times fades at my age), I was dating a guy named Walter for a few months. He broke up with me by having a mutual friend tell me “it just wasn’t working out.”

Had he told me this in person, I’d remember him fondly and think, “Ah, well, nice guy; shame it didn’t work out.” Now, on the rare occasions I think of him, it’s, “What a weiner.”

I, personally, would prefer to be broken up with by e-mail. It eliminates the embarassing and humiliating aspects of the breakup, and would just let me swallow it and move on.

I do realize, however, that most people don’t share this viewpoint, and thus I’ve tried to be decent about it when I’ve been the initiator of a breakup. Once I flew from New York to Los Angeles to tell a woman I’d been seeing that I was terminating the relationship. Seemed like the decent thing to do.

I’d make an exception if I was dumping someone who had done something really horrible to me. In that case, well, they’d be lucky to hear from me at all. I suppose I’d just send an e-mail and change my locks. But that’s never happened.

I realize that this post makes it sound like I break up with women all the time – not so. I broke up a few years ago with a woman with whom I’d been for twenty years. She took the initiative, but we’d both seen it coming for some time. Since we were living together, it kind of had to be done face to face, but I know she’d rather have just sent an e-mail, and I’d rather just have gotten one.

Then I dated the Los Angeles woman for a while, decided the relationship wouldn’t work (not that she ever did anything bad, just incompatibility), and thought it appropriate to let her know in person.

I’m agreeing with what a number of the other posters have said, in that it is essentially a respectful way of handling the situation. You don’t get to hide behind the shield of an E-mail, letter, or phone call; the written methods are completely one-sided, and in a phone call you don’t have to look the person you’re dumping in the eye, don’t have to see their facial expression when they hear what you’re saying, and can break off the conversation easily by hanging up. This is, of course, assuming that you’re doing the breaking-up in a respectful way - if someone’s going to be a jerk about it and say how their now-ex is a lousy lay and how disgusting various personal habits are, then that’s hardly respectful regardless of how the message is conveyed.

I would disagree with the suggestion that breaking up after one last nice date is a good idea. Especially if sex happened on the date, I would feel pretty used (“oh sure, he just wanted one more tumble before he tossed me aside”), and it would also lead me to wonder how much of the rest of the dating had been just an act.

Still, dumping via phone/E-mail is better than the “ignore them and they’ll go away” method of not initiating any contact and never fessing up in any form to wanting to break up - essentially making the intended dumpee dump the other person after feeling neglected for so long.

This happened with an ex-boyfriend of mine; we were in a long-distance relationship and I decided I would break up with him in person when we were back in our hometown on break. When I found out in (IIRC) October that he was already (supposedly) planning to not return home for Thanksgiving with his parents, but was instead going to stay around his college and spend it with his roommate and his family, I decided that the meeting in person wasn’t going to happen any time soon, and that he might be avoiding me on purpose. I broke it off via letter. Months later I got back an apologetic letter saying how he hadn’t meant to hurt me, he was cowardly for not talking about how he was feeling, etc., and I threw it out. A few years later, I was happily involved with the guy who’s now my husband, and I wanted to put that event behind me. I got his number through his parents; we talked and he explained how he was feeling back then and all the regret, and we got along very well, like we used to when we were friends.

I’ll go against the grain for one reason. There is nothing, and I mean NOTHING more annoying to me than to get ready for a date, go through the hassle of getting whereever and being there and presentable only to have someone tell me that the only reason I went through that effort was so they could feel better about themselves as they dump me.

Here’s what I like:

Hint around that we have to “get together” for an “important talk.” I press the issue. Youl cave and break up.

I haven’t been broken up with in fifteen years, but that’s what I remember liking. Well, liking is too strong a word, but not hating.

Screw that!! Why should I want to “look someone in the eye” or any such shit? Yeah, I’m sure they will have hurt feelings. That does not change the fact that I want to end the relationship. Why should I also have to feel worse than I need to, not to mention face the possiblilty that they might go psycho?

I am glad we are getting opinions from both sides. While I think msmith537 should have considered phrasing the answer with less hostility, she/he brings up a good point about “psycho” and leads me to ask another question.

Does it matter if you are a woman breaking up with a man or a man breaking up with a woman? What if the woman fears for her safety if the guy has a temper? Does the “go out with a bang” (pun intended) make a difference if it is the woman giving the man a last hurrah prior to leaving him? Keep in mind that this is a two month relationship where you have seen each other maybe 6 times total. A woman getting dumped the day after a date feels used. Does a man feel as used in the same situation reversed, especially if he was having a terrible drought prior to the relationship?

This reminds me of a thread we had once where it was asked if men or women did more breaking up. I’ll have to go find it and see what we concluded, except those are very common words that turn up in an awful lot of threads.

Yeah, that happened to me with a gal I had been seeing. We had only gone out on five dates, and it wasn’t serious yet, but still…

She decided that things wouldn’t work out, and she decided that the best way to communicate this was to stop answering phone calls. For my part, I was confused since (a) we had a date lined up for that weekend, (b) I was a bit naive, and © I never expected a 30-year-old woman to act that way.

To make matters worse, I called her at work to make arrangements for our weekend date. She answered by saying, “Oh, I’m busy right now. Can you call me at noon instead?” When I did call, she never answered the phone, which left me a bit confused.

Here’s a hint for the ladies: Don’t ever tell a guy to call you later, if you have no intention of answering the phone! This might seem like the easy way out, but it’s just cowardly, and it can only make matters confusing.

I think guys need that advice just as much as ladies. I know plenty of men who pull the disappearing act. In particular, my one male friend has never broken up with a girl in his life, and not for a shortage of partners. He always pulls that and he is 30 years old.

I couldn’t find the thread I wanted, but this was a good one.

The last guy I went out with - we broke up via email. I preferred it that way actually, since he turned out to be such an ass that the last thing I wanted to do was to “see him one more time” just to break up with him. Since most of our communication had been done via email due to our schedules, I didn’t have any problem with ending it that way. Turns out it was for the best, as he was even more of an ass in his email than he was in person.

This day and age, when on-line personals are the acceptable form of meeting people, why should there be an “acceptable” form of breaking it off? You do what you gotta’ do.

Because it’s not all about you. You’re disrespecting someone else to make things simpler for you, which is utterly self-absorbed and weenie-tastic.

Regarding the first part of the statement - I can assure you that the majority of the time, the person you’re breaking up with will feel much worse than you do, whether done in person or not.

Regarding the second part, if you have a legitimate reason to believe that this person will “go psycho” and be at least a temporary threat, then by all means choose another method. If it’s truly impossible to set up any meeting in a reasonable time frame that wouldn’t result in humiliation for your soon-to-be-ex, then use another method too.

I think that breaking up face to face is the best method when dealing with a mostly stable person who you have a decent amount of respect for. If you don’t care what the person thinks of you later, then don’t take that advice. Not all breakups are volatile, some are regretful and at times mutual. (“I know, I don’t feel that chemistry these days either, I think we’ve grown apart…”)