The number of romantic relationships that initiate online grows every day. Not only do we have digital means of discovering home towns, previous relationships, and taste in books and movies, we have a whole new way of communicating, too. As the way we date has changed over the years, so has the way we experience heartbreak. Instead of handing off a note or speaking face-to-face, now we can call, send a text, write an email, or, simply, stop talking altogether.
Many relationships end online because that’s where they began in the first place. Men and women spend weeks and months flirting via text or instant message, and if the time comes to break things off, few ever see a reason to make a phone call or meet in person. Why should they, if that wasn’t the precedent set in the very beginning?
Technology simplifies things like banking and research, but a smartphone can complicate romantic relationships. It means that we can always check in on one another, and a delayed response can lead to mistrust or misunderstandings. Plus, a break-up is often made worse by the evidence that then needs to be deleted in order to heal – photos, videos, voice mails, and more.
Knowing that many people break up over a text doesn’t change the fact that humans need closure in order to move on. I’ve sent enough misread texts to know that meaning often goes MIA over the invisible waves of the Internet. And what could be a worse time to be misunderstood than while ending a romance?
When people break up without actually speaking to one another, it makes me wonder if anyone remembers the Golden Rule. “Do unto others whatever you would like them to do to you” (Matt. 7:12a). All it takes is treating everyone with the same respect that you would like to be treated with yourself.
If you have the tough job of breaking up with someone, here’s how not to do it:
1. Don’t be Jacob
Jacob worked seven years for Rachel, was tricked by his uncle, and when he figured it out, he seems to have skipped talking to Leah about it altogether (Gen. 29: 15-30). I can’t help but feel sorry for Leah; even though I’m sure she played her own guilty part. Still, she deserved honesty and straight answers from Jacob, especially since he didn’t seem to notice the switch until after the wedding night.
2. Don’t be Abraham
The way Abraham sends away Hagar and Ishmael could have been more tactful. It’s not quite a brush-off, but it also doesn’t feel very loving. Genesis 21 says that Abraham is upset about the whole thing, but he still listens to Sara (albeit with God’s say-so). Could Abraham have handled it better? Perhaps. Hagar could have at least used a camel and an escort through the wilderness.
3. Don’t be David
It was obviously wrong of David to summon Bathsheba as if she were a piece of property in order to sleep with her. Then, instead of telling Uriah what had happened, he tried to encourage him to sleep with his wife so his own sin could be covered. Then, when that plan failed he had him killed. (2 Sam 11).
Evidently, successfully dealing with love relationships and break ups is nothing new. So, if you are facing a break-up, think of the Golden Rule and speak the truth in love.