This article originally appeared on VICE UK.
“There’s no good way to break up with someone” is a thing people say a lot. I know this because I said it when defending a decision to dump someone over EasyJet wifi on my way back from a festival, citing a desire to move to another country at an unfixed date in the future. I also know this because it is the premise of an entire episode of Sex and the City, which we all know to be a nuanced and flawless representation of real relationships.
Before we begin, I’d just like to confirm: That SATC character is a garbage person, and so was I for ending something in the sky over a shoddy internet connection with a very limited time window. OK?
A fair and proper dumping is one that is honest, considerate, and gives the other parties involved room to respond if they so wish. If you’re ending a meaningful relationship—one where you went to Cornwall for the weekend and met their family members and put things up each other’s asses—you should always do it in person. But when it’s someone you talked to on Instagram for two months before vetting them across a table at Nando’s and ultimately deciding you’d be happier at home binge watching The Good Place, what then? There may be no good way to break up with someone, but there certainly are a whole bunch of bad ways.
Today is Valentine’s Day, and regardless of how you feel about that, what we’re going to do is sit down and pore over the following series of messages people have been dumped by and analyze them to the bitter end. Maybe we’ll learn something about basic communication and reflect upon our own treatment of others by judging the behavior of complete strangers. Maybe not. This is who we are now. This is where society is at. Embrace it.
Explanation: “He slid into my Instagram DMs and, after chatting for a while, we went out for a drink. We ended up seeing each for about two months. I had asked him if the traveling from London to Brighton thing bothered him, and he said no. He also works in London every Wednesday, but I asked to go for a drink after work one time and he said, ‘I really need to rush back and do some weights.’ Another time, I asked to see him one weekend and he said to come the weekend after because there was some ‘big meal’ happening. Then I got that text in the middle of the day. I waited a day to reply because I was so angry, and then I did, and I haven’t heard a thing from him since.”
Assessment: Interesting choice of tone here. Sort of like a college rejection letter or news from the doctor that your smear test results have come back abnormal. It’s trying to be gentle—as you can tell by the use of the intensifiers “absolutely” and “totally,” as well as the superlative “brilliant”—but ultimately still sounds like an email from a recruitment agency that stops just short of the phrase “thank you for applying.”
Of course, the language of dumping is always coded to help cushion people’s feelings: “Sorry to dump this on you out of the blue” means “yes, I’ve been avoiding you for a long time,” while “this isn’t easy for me to deal with” means “I don’t want to.” This guy’s heart was in the right place, but sadly my man could not follow through. As a result, this is just a few positive words sprinkled onto a fib that is pretending not to say: “My like for you does not outweigh my dislike for trips on public transport that exceed 45 minutes.”
Explanation: “We met on Tinder and went out a couple times. As you can see, she was keen on organizing something else, but I just hadn’t got around to it. We were going to meet that night, as I was on my way back from a work trip, but I was late and then just got this out of nowhere.”
Assessment: Firstly, have you ever witnessed anything as eviscerating as an old school smiley face following the words “go fuck yourself?” I’ve been thinking about this for a while and I think it might be as close to perfect as an opening line to a breakup text could get. Truly the “drink in the face” of digital correspondence. Anyway, the rest we’ll have to break down sentence by sentence, lest we suffer third-degree burns by proxy.
I’ve been trying to make plans with you for fucking months and you conveniently bun me off EVERYTIME
Suspense, suspicion, DRAMA. This sentence has everything. All the frustration and wasted energy of a fruitless fling boiled down to 17 words and a contraction. Every unanswered text spat back out through that “fucking,” every response deemed not enthusiastic enough bottled within “months,” every rain check and subsequent disappointment and upset of leg shaving routines breaking through “EVERYTIME” like a fist through drywall. No coded language here. All in all, a very emphatic and straightforward complaint.
Must be lovely living a middle-class lifestyle on a working-class budget
I’ve been trying to wrap my head around this, and honestly, I think it’s a slight stumble on our author’s part. This is like someone asking how you’re doing and you saying, “Yeah, yesterday.” Like, what’s the crux of the burn here? To me, living a middle-class lifestyle on a working-class budget sounds like an achievement. Perhaps I’m reading it wrong. Perhaps it’s a compliment? “Go fuck yourself, Gene, but do know that I have the greatest respect for the many ingenious ways you have managed to leverage your limited finances”?
It’s either that or a joke at the expense of social mobility. But I don’t suppose it matters because the scathing tone in which this sentence is delivered, along with the rest of the message, still makes this slightly awkward dig land like a sledgehammer to the ego.
Go fuck yourself ya ain’t even fit enough to be as arrogant as you are
This is the second “go fuck yourself” of the message and, impressively, it does not lose any clout, considering it’s dropped within such close proximity of the first. The repetition even lends it the hypnotic cadence of an Allen Ginsberg poem. Tinder person, I gave you my all and now I am radge.
Wholly unnecessary in terms of the overall message. Crucial in terms of tying things together. This is 100 percent garnish—the sprinkle of fresh chives on the eggs Benedict that is this text. A bit much? Sure. But the level of judgment and self-respect on display from start to finish is so unwavering we have no choice but to reward it.
*This would have been a solid ten but I’m deducting points for the potentially classist stumble.
Explanation: “We met on OKCupid. He’d been on the show First Dates, and I’d been on a live-streamed date on VICE, so we bonded over that. We had two dates, but it was during the Christmas season where you have like zero time! He said he wasn’t great at messaging, and I said I’d be fine with it—but really wasn’t. NYE came and went, I spent an evening messaging him, talked about him to my friends tons, then asked the universe to send me a sign—and got that message an hour later.”
Assessment: A good deal of overcompensation going on here for someone who “isn’t great at messaging,” but in fairness, this appears to be quite heartfelt. It’s self-aware, balanced—every deflating sentiment is puffed out again with a compliment—and it contains many! Enthusiastic! Exclamations! Under different circumstances, it could be the perfect breakup message.
Unfortunately, all this hard work has been undone by the fact that “I’m not great at messaging” was stipulated in the first place, which, as we all know, is slang for, “Listen, I’m telling you this lie in advance so you don’t expect anything of me, plus it conveniently doubles up as an excuse for any future non-communicative behavior on my end that will be incredibly frustrating for you until I choose to break it off, at which point, I will be perfectly articulate and probably leave you with a positive lasting impression of me, thanks.”
Explanation: “I was dating an awful guy, who we’ll call Dave, who broke up with me in front of his best friend. The friend then proceeded to jump straight in and flirt with me, come to my place of work, and send suggestive texts for a solid month afterward. The night I finally agreed to take him home, he disappeared. When I messaged to see where he was, this is the reply I received.”
Assessment: This is literally the definition of straight culture. This is perfectly sensible women ignoring all their better judgments and finally caving to some average loser’s advances because it might grant them a moment’s peace in the long run, and then getting burned for it. This is minding your own business in the smoking area, only to be approached by a man wearing a plaid shirt over a scoop neck with the Eiffel Tower on it, who says how “refreshing” it is to see a woman who doesn’t “have it all out.” This is a 2 AM “hi” followed by a 3 AM “hi” followed by a 9 AM “sorry, didn’t mean to send those! you good anyway?” followed by a 9 PM “fuck you, bitch.”
Happy Valentine’s Day!
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