Text Message Break-Ups 101

Deciphering an out-of-the-blue text message break-up and a yardstick guide for when it’s time to have “The Talk.”

Q: Man, this sucks hard that I am even writing in about this. My girlfriend and I recently broke up after more than two years. After we graduated college, I went on to grad school while she entered “the real world” in a nearby city. We were dating long-distance for a while and she had even thought marriage was in our future. After a recent weekend trip to visit her, she decides to break up with me OVER A TEXT. She claimed her feelings had petered out a long time ago but she just didn’t have the guts to end it. She’s insisting that the reason isn’t because of another guy but she just doesn’t know what she wants and doesn’t want to hold me back (what does THAT mean anyway?) This was a complete punch to the gut for me, out of nowhere. HOW could she do this? Over a TEXT? – Tore Up

A: HOW could anyone think that Crocs are an acceptable form of public footwear? HOW could “Flight of the Conchords” be finished after just two glorious seasons on the air? HOW could anyone truly believe the “my-lips-were-attacked-by-a-swarm-of-angry-bees” look is attractive? A close cousin of the exasperating “what if,” the “how could” line of thinking can gnaw at you like a termite on steroids and you’ll still be no closer to answering why your gal suddenly went cold.

First things first: She broke up with you over a text. I repeat: A TEXT. After TWO YEARS together. That, my friend, is a sign of a soulless chump who doesn’t deserve a second more of your agonizing. Try to turn your hurt into anger — a necessary phase of breakup recovery, and much more fun than moping, quite frankly. How about treating yourself to a new dartboard and slapping a photo of her face over the bullseye? Not pretty, but nobody has to know, so fire away. You’ll expel some of your anger, and bonus, when you head out to some dive bar on your meager student funds, you’ll have honed your dart prowess. (Which many women, myself included, find sexy as hell.)

And here’s what her comment about not wanting to hold you back really means: She doesn’t want you to hold her back. The transition from college into the “real world” is a supremely exciting one, so it’s not a big surprise she’s drifted away. (Though it sounds like Peewee Herman has a more adult approach to breaking up than she does.)

Finally, as I told another recent college dumpee, take the money you would have spent on your next trip to visit her and throw yourself a good old-fashioned kegger. No doubt free beer will rustle up plenty of cooing young co-eds. Not that I’m advocating any illicit behavior or taking advantage of anyone; just sayin’ there’s no better time to stroke the ego than after a breakup, so why the hell not indulge if you can?

Q: I’ve been seeing a guy for three months. We really like each other. When should we approach the exclusivity topic? – Dee

A: Wouldn’t it be so much easier if elementary school rules still applied, and you just check a box, and – bam! – your couple status is cemented! It’s a little trickier in adulthood, and everybody’s different – some people hate “The Talk,” while others are all for getting on the same page. Whatever your situation, here are a few little measuring sticks that might prove helpful:

  1. When you no longer feel the need to say you “have plans” to make it look like a night out with pals could be a date.
  2. When it’s implied that you’ll be spending at least one, and usually both, weekend nights together.
  3. When you no longer feel the need to leave his house to go No. 2.
  4. When he no longer feels the need to go to great lengths to hide his farts.
  5. When you don’t feel nervous about the other person’s answer to the question.
  6. When you use “it’s me” instead of your name more often than not in voicemails and phone conversations.
  7. When there’s talk of meeting Mom and Dad.
  8. When you make jokes about whom you picked up at the bar last night.
  9. When the roller coaster feeling in your stomach gives way to a nice, consistent glow.
  10. When you start having condom-free sex. (Wait, strike that – you definitely need to make sure you’re monogamous – and clean – BEFORE unwrapping the love stick.)


  1. I think the societal norms that shape our relationship timelines are b.s. When you feel it, say it. The risks of missing an opportunity or confusing asituation weigh heavier than the risk of having “the talk.”

    Comment by C. Schlosser — February 26, 2010 @ 12:41 pm

  2. Are you a professional journalist? You write very well.

    Comment by wewribreDuh — June 8, 2010 @ 2:08 am

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