When relationships fail, sometimes people choose to cut ties without explaining why. This is called “ghosting.” While ghosting may be easy, it can leave others confused and hurt.
Psychologists and relationship experts tell that it’s always better to have a polite breakup chat than to simply stop returning texts or blocking someone on social media.
1. Be direct
Sometimes you meet someone online and they seem really nice, but you don’t feel that same chemistry in real life. If you don’t want to spend more time with them, it’s best to be direct and say so in an honest but respectful manner.
Many people choose to break up via text or email, which can be a bit less awkward than talking in person. Just be sure to be clear and concise so they understand the situation and aren’t confused.
I asked several dating and relationship experts how they recommend ending an online relationship and almost all of them said to be as direct as possible. One expert said that if you’ve gone on fewer than five dates, you can simply send a text message explaining that it’s not working out. It’s more appropriate to call them or talk in person if you’ve been on several dates, though.
2. Let it go
If you’ve been in a long-distance relationship with someone and are trying to end things, you may hear the casual advice: “Just let it go.” And while letting something go does mean putting it on the side of life’s road to move forward, it also means letting go of the pain and anger that comes along with it.
Saffian suggests writing out your feelings in a goodbye letter. While it may sound cheesy, it can help you realize that there’s a lot to be happy about in a friendship. And it can be a powerful way to help you stop feeling like the other person has power over you.
In addition to letting go of the hurt and pain, it’s important to let go of any fantasy about what could have been. Remember, the connection didn’t continue for a reason, and it’s time to move on. If you’re having trouble letting it go, try to step outside of the situation to gain new perspective and insight.
3. Don’t get caught up
When it comes to online relationships, there is an element of mystery that makes it harder to reject someone. You have to consider their feelings, how they will respond, and what kind of response you want to give them, if any at all. It’s also more difficult to be honest about how you feel when breaking up over text or video chat because you don’t have the same cues that come with meeting up in person.
INSIDER asked several psychologists, counselors, and relationship experts for their advice on how to end an online relationship, and most agreed that if you have decided you don’t want to downshift to a platonic relationship, it is best to make the break as soon as possible. Otherwise, sliding back and forth between contact and silence can fuel uncertainty for the rejected party and prolong the pain of the rejection. That being said, it is still important to be respectful and direct when breaking up with someone over text or video chat.
4. Don’t take it personally
All relationships – online or in person – have their ups and downs. But when you have a long-distance relationship, it can be more challenging to determine when to end things and how. When it’s time to call it quits, be careful not to take the break up personally. If your partner is responding to your end of the relationship with hostility, it might be because they’ve misinterpreted what you’ve said.
If they’re avoiding you or seem distant, it might be because they have another romantic connection closer to home. Or, maybe they’re simply not as invested in you as you are in them.
Whatever the reason, you’ve gotta be willing to accept it and move on. But if you’re feeling confused, don’t hesitate to ask for help – whether from a friend or an online counsellor (click the blue box above for instant access). You deserve to have a happy and fulfilling life. Good luck!