Beliefnet
Everyday Ethics

Hillary and I promise this will be the last dating post for…well, at least a little bit.

I recently went through a breakup. It was tough, especially after almost a year of this person being in my life. Blogging, however, seems to have brought new focus into my life, and I can’t help but view every situation through ethical lenses — even when it deals with my own breakup!

The person in question was visiting his family on the west coast for a week. I had no reason to anticipate an impending break up, and went about my daily business. If he seemed a little distant, well, again, I had no reason to worry — he was just busy, or so he told me.

So when I received an IM from him the day he was flying back to New York, I happily chatted back, telling him how much I looked forward to seeing him.

His response? “I don’t think this is going to work out.” Imagine my astonishment! He was breaking up with me over IM?

We did eventually proceed to the phone, but he called while he was waiting to board the 5 hour flight back to New York. So that conversation was also cut short. The last I heard from this guy was a text: “It just isn’t a match.”  

Now, when I told my friends this story, they were confused and shocked by the breakup itself; but what they were most upset about was that he didn’t give me the courtesy of breaking up in person.

I have to disagree.

To the contrary, I was furious that he had led me on for an entire week, letting me believe that everything was status quo. It felt like a lie, a betrayal. And simply the wrong thing to do.

I’ve been known to break up with a boyfriend over the phone myself. Years ago I dated a guy very seriously for four years, long-distance. It was becoming more and more clear to me that I couldn’t marry him, and so one day when it actually felt right I picked up the phone and called him, and broke up with him.

Why didn’t I give him the respect of telling him to his face? Because it would have been over a week before I saw him again, and every phone conversation from the time I made my decision would have felt like a lie.

Do relationships (longterm ones at least) deserve the courtesy of a face-to-face breakup? Or is it better to just be honest and be quick?

Part of this blog’s mission is to question if our responses and our behaviour hurt others — I know that I was the injured party in this case, mainly because I felt lied to. Still, considering my friends’ indignation on my behalf, I wonder, what was the right thing to do?

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