How To Break Up With Someone Via Text Without Being A Jerk

Since the introduction of cell phones, breaking up with someone via text has been thought of as the ultimate jerky move. But in actual fact, there are some situations where breaking up over text is okay. It might even be the smarter thing to do, depending on the circumstances of your breakup. If you’ve decided to do the deed over text, here’s how to avoid coming off like a total jerk.

  1. Establish that it’s the right way to go. There’s a reason why breaking up with someone via text is considered a jerky move. It’s more impersonal and cold than breaking up with someone in person. So, establish that this is the best option for you. Sometimes, a text breakup really is your best move. Think about how long you’ve been dating, why you’re breaking up with them, and how they’re going to react. Overall, consider the breakup on your physical and mental health. If you’ve only been together for less than five dates, or your partner might become physically violent, it might be a good idea to cut ties digitally.
  2. Use their name. Breaking up via text can take the humanity and warmth (not that there is much warmth!) out of a breakup. You can add some back in by using the person’s name. This will help to stop them from feeling like this is a quick message you send out to all the people you’re involved with when you’re sick of them. You could even address the fact that it might’ve been better to break up in person, but you weren’t feeling up to it. The point is to let them know that you do actually care.
  3. Be polite. This depends on why you’re breaking up with them. Generally, though, it’s a good idea to be polite and say something before jumping into the breakup. Always start it with a greeting followed by their name. Even if you’re angry with them, avoid saying anything nasty or cruel. Opt for assertive over aggressive.
  4. Thank them for anything they’ve done for you. If they haven’t broken your heart and you feel inclined, thank them for what they’ve done for you. That might be paying for your dinner a few times or even listening to you vent. A breakup will always sting but letting them know about the positives you took from the relationship shows that you’re grateful.
  5. Give a reason but avoid going into detail. It’s important to give a reason for the breakup so they don’t feel totally confused. But you don’t have to go into great detail. You might say that the chemistry just isn’t there or you don’t feel what you’d like to feel for them. If they’ve specifically done something that makes you not want to be with them anymore, feel free to say it. Don’t write an essay about all the ways they disappointed you, but rather something simple like, “You made some comments about the wait staff that made me really uncomfortable.”
  6. Don’t lie. Resist the temptation to lie. It’s a lot easier to say that work is busy, but try not to give any excuses that aren’t true. They could lead to more questions that you won’t be able to answer. Plus, it doesn’t look great if you break up with them because you’re “too busy for a relationship” and then start dating someone else a week later.
  7. Compliment them. If there are real things you admire about the person, then tell them. It won’t completely erase the pain of being broken up with, but it might help. Complimenting them will also show that you do care about their feelings. Try to make compliments personal. Say something like, “I really look up to your positive outlook on life and I hope this decision doesn’t get in the way of that.”
  8. Be clear that it’s not open for discussion. It’s better for everyone to be clear about where you stand. It might be easier to say that you’re going to reevaluate whether this relationship is for you, but if that’s not true, don’t get their hopes up. Make it known that your decision is final and not open for discussion so everyone can move on.
  9. Give them space. Whether you want to remain friends and keep talking is up to the pair of you. Don’t automatically assume that they’ll want to stay friends with you. Being broken up with isn’t fun, so give them space. They might want to totally delete you from their lives, or they may just need a few weeks without seeing your name to heal. That’s up to them.
  10. Let them know that they can call you. Depending on the circumstances of your breakup, you might want to let them know that they can call you if they need. If it’s just a situation where you’re not feeling the chemistry, it might be nice to say something like, “If I haven’t been clear, feel free to call me so we can discuss it further.” Of course, you don’t owe them an in-depth explanation if they’ve been horrible to you or you feel your mental/physical health is at stake.
Vanessa Locampo is an Aussie writer who’s equally obsessed with YA fiction and pasta. Her time is divided between writing all the things, reading all the things, listening to Queen, and bopping her cat on the nose. She has a bachelor’s degree in Creative Writing and has written for sites including and Discovering Montana, and currently works as an editor at Glam. You can keep up with her on Instagram @vanessaellewrites.