Tag Archives: breaking up

How to lose touch on social media

Like most people on social media, I have blinked and seen five years or more suddenly go by. Have I really known all these people that long, despite never meeting? I’ve seen their dogs and listened to tales of the mums and dads and Christmas dinners for year upon year, yet never laid eyes on them in the flesh and, aside from a few shaky videos or Vines, have never heard them speak.

Our social media connections rumble on and on like endless novels, with shock twists and new characters but always the same face and typing fingers at its heart. You become used to them, they are scenery, until one day, out of nowhere, something happens and everything you knew is gone.


I remember my first Twitter death. A guy I was following, who was bright and funny and kind of related to someone I actually knew in real life, one day turned his patter from well-observed snark to real-life scares. He had cancer, and it killed him. His story ended. Our conversation finished. Dialogue into echo.

It’s easy to feel  detached from rolling news’s horror show of refugee deaths and wars and bombs and all that, but when a voice you’ve never even heard out loud goes quiet, it feels very close to home. I still miss his humour.

There have been a few demises since, both actual and virtual. As well as the mercifully rare sad passings, there have been huge flounces off-grid, and people being hounded away, along with quiet departures from those simply unable to face another day of mansplaining.


While I’ve become desensitised to most of this loss, I felt sad when I noticed a couple I’ve been following – note, following, not stalking – seemed to have broken up without me noticing. It seemed odd in a world where every minute detail of our lives – from what we had for dinner to our partner cheating on us – is shared, that these two had managed to keep it offline.  Continue reading How to lose touch on social media


How to say no

No can be a tough word to say at the best of times. Another cake? Don’t mind if I do. One for the road? Make it two. No always seems to want to play hide and seek when you need it the most.

When you’re online dating, a lot of dates happen when they really shouldn’t. Like a misunderstanding over a spilled pint which quickly turns into a bar brawl, these things should be nipped in the bud when you have the chance. Because you are so adorable, desirable and amazing, lots of people will want to date you, but you can’t be into all of them. So you should be clear from the off about what you do and don’t want in your online dating profile. A few will totally ignore you and slip through the net of course and, if you’re willing to give them a go, can become the best dates of all, but hey. If you’re absolutely sure you don’t want to ‘go there’, be firm but fair. Leave the bitchy putdowns to JR Ewing. And me.

“So, would you like to go on a date?”
Nobody should sit through a date they don’t want to be on. When you’re saying no to a date, whether you’ve met them or not, you are rejecting them.

You’re not a meanie at heart, no matter how distant and calculating you pretend to be, so if you’re going to say “thanks, but no thanks” to someone who contacts you online, you’re going to want to do it sensitively. Call it karmic dating, if you like. One day, that poor sod is going to be you. How do you want to hear the bad news?

“Thanks for the interest. I’m chatting to a couple of other people right now who seem to be more what I’m looking for. Best of luck with your search!”

“I’ve looked at your profile and, while you seem a really cool guy, I’m not sure we’re a good match, so I don’t think we should go on a date. I don’t want us to waste each other’s time.”

“I’ve kind of got my eye on a certain someone on the site and don’t think it would be fair to date you while I’m still working things out. Hope you find what you’re looking for.”

If none of those work, deliver the slamdown:
“Sorry, you’re not my type. I don’t want to take this any further.”

You might be surprised at how nasty this can turn, and how quickly. You should fully expect even the nicest of rebuffs to turn kindly Keith from Kettering into a whirling tornado of embittered vitriol. They might call you ugly, stupid or tell you to go fuck yourself. Don’t get into the dialogue they are so desperate for. Just block them and get on with your life. They still lose; they didn’t get to date you. And you do not have a big nose, whatever they might say.

“Would you like to do this again?”
So, you actually went on the date, and it’s the end of the evening. If you’re being asked this question, the night can’t have been too much of a disaster, unless your date is running low on self-awareness. I did, once, exclaim “REALLY?!” when a guy asked whether he could see me again – I had assumed from the monosyllabic chat and refusal to make eye contact that he’d rather be chased round the souks of Tangier by a knife-wielding baboon than ever again gaze at me over a pint of mild. It turns out he was shy.

But, generally, when you’re invited to “do this again” there has either been a flicker of mutual interest or one of you has been doing some RADA-standard acting. But if you’ve not been feeling it enough to want an encore, this question can put you in a tricky position. Do you want the evening to take an acidic turn? Do you lie? Will your date understand? Maybe they’re asking out of politeness?

Some schools of thought say you should be honest and upfront, say thank you but no and maybe explain you didn’t feel there was sufficient chemistry to continue. Well, yeah, but it’s getting late and you don’t want to put a downer on the evening, so the Guyliner school of thought says, just answer “Sure, why not? Drop me a text and we’ll sort something out”, dole out a peck on the cheek (no lips, never mind tongues) and be on your merry way before you miss your bus. Then, should they bother to get in touch, do all the hard stuff over text.

“I’m not sure there was enough spark, but it was great to meet you.”

“Sorry, I think I still want to date a few more people and don’t want to mess you around. Thought it was important to be honest.”

“Sorry, I’m really busy with work and other stuff; I don’t think I have time to seriously date anyone right now.”

Copouts? Maybe. The truth? Possibly. It always looks much better written down, and you don’t even have to do your best ‘sincere face’.

You may think you’d want to hear the news in person, but, as I have touched on before in my guide to dumping somebody by text, there’s not much point in the why and the wherefores when you’re being ditched. It’s mortally embarrassing for you both and you really just want to be out of there. So get out of there.

Further reading
Is he dumping you or is there still hope?
How to get over it when a fling ditches you

A beginner’s guide to breaking it off: The phone call

My recent post on dumping someone by text proved to be pretty divisive. It seems that many people prefer a face-to-face break-up or, at the very least, a phone call.

It’s a common fallacy that bad news like this is better in person, or coming from a disembodied voice at the end of a telephone. Perhaps it seems more personal, or means more, because it’s perceived that tapping in a few digits, then delivering a knockout blow over the phone and waiting distractedly for the stunned reply, in some way takes more effort or is more respectful than sending a carefully worded text (or email if you’re feeling jazzy or are Christopher Ewing in Dallas).

While I believe texting the kiss-off can empower the recipient much more than a surprise attack via a voice call – at least then the dumpee can think about crafting a response rather than blurting out hysterical reactions they will almost certainly regret later – I’ll give the humble telephone the attention it deserves as a device for despatching paramours.

Pick your time carefully
When guys and gals in the ’60s and ’70s used the phone to chuck their lover under the bus, they had to rely on the landline, that dinosaur of the telecommunication age, to deliver the dismissal. That meant having a vague idea of when their future ex would be home and, if they were kind and considerate (which you really should be unless ending a toxic or abusive relationship), whether they would have anyone around them to comfort them. Now, of course, we have mobile phones – or ‘cells’ if you’re reading this somewhere exciting like Manhattan or, erm, Anchorage – so you can get your dump on any time you like.

Even though your unfortunate dumpee is always contactable, keep your head in the 1960s. Nobody wants to be in the supermarket or at a club when they receive the news that the chords of their parachute into lifelong companionship have been severed. Nor do they want to be in the middle of dinner, arguing with their mum, on the toilet, appearing on reality television (my long overdue sympathies to Kevin Federline there) or at work when the news comes through.

Before you make THE call, you need to find out where they are. So, either send a text (see, even the heartless SMS has a role to play here) to see what they’re up to, or give them a short call, before inventing some distraction which means you’ll have to phone back later. You do, of course, run the risk of spooking them if you act distracted or sound ready to deploy your weapons of mass rejection right here and now. Keep this text or call fairly light. Save the plummeting anvil for the main event. No need to stress them out unnecessarily before you end it. Kindness is key.

I don’t know how to say this…
Well, you really should. Starting off by saying that you’re not sure what to say is a total cop-out, because it leaves the recipient in a brief state of frenzy. Are you going to announce a death? Reveal a lottery win? Tell them you have met someone else? Confess to a bank robbery? If you can’t find the exact words straight away, do some stalling – and drop a few clues along the way – with a slightly more telling “Look, I’ve been thinking…” and make sure you say this in a SAD voice and are somewhere quiet, not in the queue for a bar with all your friends.

There’ll then be a brief pause while the cogs whirr in your almost-ex’s mind. You should struggle on, however, and say things aren’t really working out for you and that you think you should both break up. Yes, the ‘both’ is key here, as you need to make it sound like this would be mutually beneficial.

“I want to break up with you” or “I’m breaking up with you” somehow seem colder than “I think we should break up”. While it’s you who’s ruining everything and casting them back out into the kingdom of the singles, by introducing a ‘we’, you are giving the dumpee the chance to consider any doubts they have had about you themself. If you can, lead them to think it’s the right decision – one that may have even been reached mutually were the discussion to go on much longer.

Hanging up on you
So you’ve said the words, but what now? Do you just hang up and leave them to their feelings? Do you let them air their emotions – which could range from a barrage of abuse and grievances to heartfelt, uncontrollable pleas to change your mind? It’s your call, but bear in mind how emotionally charged the response will be. Do you trust yourself not to go back on it if they manage to convince you with tears and tales of all the good times? If you are going to cut the call short, do it kindly. Maybe even agree to talk it over in more detail some other day.

State your reasons for the break up, sure, but at least sugarcoat it to a degree. Nobody wants to hear that their laugh is too loud or their personal hygiene is akin to that of a wild boar. If things haven’t been working out and you haven’t felt fully into it or you want to be by yourself, then just say – put the responsibility on yourself, not them. You’re walking away from it all, anyway; you may as well take the flack (unless they were really objectionable, of course).

And once the call is over, put the phone down and leave them alone. No late-night texts, no drunken regrets. Step away from rants on Facebook and save your saccharine apologies or sincere wishes for the future. Let them get over you. And you, of course, need to get over it too.

So, y’know, get over it.

If you’re really stuck, give this a listen before you call (or, if you’re just plain mean, play it down the phone):

A beginner’s guide to breaking it off: The text

Is there ever a nice way to bid adieu to an affair of the heart? Is the blow any less crushing because you have communicated it via a gift-wrapped box of (live) white doves, after an afternoon of champagne or during a shuddering orgasm? Probably not.

But there are many ways of delivering the fatal thud to the back of the head that so many relationships suffer. It’s just about picking your moment – and your method.

Textual ditching gets a very bad press. When Frasier star Kelsey Grammer fluffed out his hair, primed his best texting finger and sent the SMS which would end his 15-year marriage, the papers and news outlets that still cared about him were up in arms.

How could someone who so charmingly growled about tossed salad and scrambled eggs be so callous as to finish off all those years of wedded bliss with a robotic network message? While Grammer perhaps should have really thought that one over a bit longer, there’s a lot to be said for euthanising your relationship via text.

For relatively short flings, it is perfectly acceptable – as long as you get the language right. When dumping anybody by any method, the one thing to remember – and that so many forget – is: DON’T BE AN ARSEHOLE. As cathartic as it may be to list all your soon-to-be ex’s failings, it won’t help anybody and acting like a piece of shit is bad karma.

What texting does is give you the opportunity to get straight to the point, remain emotionless and, more importantly, get to the end of the dumping without any interruptions – like tears, or screaming, or a wine glass in your face.

Some examples to avoid:

“I’m shagging someone else.”
“You’re ditched.”
“The sex was totes abysmoid. Laterz.”
“You smell like a caged animal, so I’m setting you free back into the wild.”
“Don’t you think I deserved that last Emmy for Frasier? Really?”

 Some better examples:

“I didn’t really feel any spark.”
“I feel we’ve lost momentum after not seeing each other much recently.”
“I think I need some time by myself.”
“I’m not sure we’re right for each other.”
“I think I’d rather just leave it there for now. Can we stay friends?”

It doesn’t matter whether you don’t mean it or are lying or hiding your true feelings. Who cares? That’s not what this is about. You’re done here.

Those who think texting is callous miss the point entirely – they probably deserve to be dumped. Texting that it’s over is a kindness. You’re sparing them the humiliation of a very public break-up. They can put any spin on it they like:

“Oh yeah, we ended it over text; it was no big deal. We weren’t that serious.”

Or, more likely:

“Can you believe the total BASTARD ended it by text? A few short lines? Some bullshit about there being no spark. No spark?! What am I? A fucking Roman candle?! I hope he gets eaten by sharks. I’m better off without him.”

If you’re seen as a bit of a coward, so be it; if you’re merely ending a fling, there isn’t much to be gained by drawing out the whole process over a miserable drink in a pub, where everyone else is having a good time.

A text also helps the dumpee to react however they want, privately: nobody wants to get angry or cry in front of someone they’ve had sex with only two or three times.

When a ditching text is appropriate:

– You’ve been dating a month or two and haven’t been gelling particularly well.
– You’ve been going out for a few months, but seeing each other less and less – a ‘dwindler’.
– The last time you saw each other was an utter shambles and you’re both too ashamed to admit how dreadful it was.

When a ditching text is inappropriate:

– You’re about to jet off on a romantic holiday together.
– They’re waiting at the head of the altar.
– You’ve been together five years.

Use your common sense. Put the boot you’re about to lodge up their backside on the other foot. Would you be devastated if you got a Dear John text from them right now? Oh, you would? Oh. Well, send it anyway. Time is money.

Other reading
How to dump somebody over the phone
How to deal with being ditched by a fling