LOS ANGELES – A new study from the Pew Research Center shows that Americans are getting a lot more comfortable forging new relationships online.
They’re also becoming quite adept at virtually ending them: Among Americans with recent dating experience, 17 percent have broken up with someone they were dating by text message, email or by sending a message online.
Among daters under 30, 22 percent have leveraged the Internet to end a relationship. And women are slightly more likely to shoot off a breakup email than men are – 18 percent of them have done it, compared with 15 percent of men.
And yet, in Internet breakups aired publicly on the Internet, the typical sender is male. In a recent It Happened to Me post at lifestyle website xoJane, Aly Walansky worked through feelings of shock and despair after an on-again, off-again boyfriend dumped me via email after ten years together.
Nikki Metzgar mined similar territory in a How About We essay published last year. Jezebel’s (mild expletive) Email From a Dude series has highlighted the most offensive examples of the form for years. And before we texted our discontents, Carrie Bradshaw got dumped via a Post-It note: I’m sorry, I can’t. Don’t hate me.
As the new Pew numbers show, the breakup email is not a dude thing – it’s a human one. Women, after all, pioneered the Dear John genre. Both Britney Spears and Russell Brand have initiated divorces via text message.
Now that we’re all on the same level: I’m not convinced that breaking up electronically is more traumatic than experiencing it in person. Getting dumped is awful, no matter the medium. We can blame technology, but the problem is usually a lot more human.