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Either you’ve tried to resist it (which just delays the inevitable) or you’ve fully embraced and adapted the major global cultural shift into a technology intimate world. While everything we do now is somehow driven by or utilizes technology whether we are uploading a picture, updating a status, checking in, being virtually reminded of a birthday, winking, poking, dm’ing, kik’ing or grindr’ing we are now in the midst of a world with new rules of engagement. This new plane of existence requires a frequently updated, culturally relevant, clearly defined and socially accepted “rules of engagement”, or more to the point of this article “rules of disengagement”.
Remember the days of old, when you could get a civil dinner out of a break up? Now, just as easily as text flirting begins a relationship, text fighting can end a relationship. We’ve all experienced those textships that never seem to go anywhere but are easy go to entertainment during moments of boredom much like that candy game. These relationships are just as substantial as crushing candy to pass time. However, what happens when you’ve gotten a few months in and things just aren’t working out? Is it now acceptable etiquette to send that deadly text “it’s over and you’re blocked” or “this isn’t working anymore?” Well, in the age of technology this isn’t as clear cut as it was say 10 years ago when the answer would have been an easy no. So, when is it ok to end a relationship through text, email or phone call?
Rules of disengagement: 3 acceptable reasons to give him/her the virtual boot.
1. Long distance relationships
No one should have to stay in a bad relationship or waste another person’s time until the next time you can book a flight or drive 6 hrs. This is indeed a good time to utilize face time, skype, oovoo or some other live chat service. An email explaining the reason and a follow up video chat for sincerity and respect would be the ideal combination for a long distance relationship farewell.
2. The person avoids the talk
Ok, so they will only show when it would be totally inconvenient to have the break-up discussion like at family gatherings, work, places of worship but never when it’s just the two of you. They may always have a friend tag-along. This is a severe case of avoidance. In this situation go ahead and send that text. You may not get a response right away but don’t worry the avoider has received the text but holds out hope that in a day or two you will change your mind or that you will act like nothing happened. If you get a call in a couple days like nothing happened simply ask, “Can we talk about the text”? Whatever happens keep bringing any the avoider’s attention back to the text. The avoider will eventually get it.
3. Flared Tempers
Of course, if a face to face break-up will lead to a violent response then send a text and block the number. This is not a reaction that would come out of nowhere; this would be the result of an already volatile relationship. If you may in fact lose your own temper or you are breaking up in a rage then write an email and save it in your drafts for a day, reread it in 24 hours and if it represents your feelings coherently and clearly ends the relationship without igniting a continuous back and forth, then send it.
Otherwise, technology should never alter our sense of empathy, compassion and respect for others. People want closure and to feel that the relationship was in fact real even if it did not last. Unless you are in any of the above situations then break-ups are just as intimate as the hook-up, up close, personal and everyone should be allowed the opportunity to get off and walk away.
~Michael and Aunsha Hall-Everett of Intimacy & Colour, LLC
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