3 Modern (and Sort of Assholey) Ways to Break Up in Digital Age

BAD LOVE ON THE ROCKS. The prevalence of online dating apps has changed the way we hook up, and also how we break up


Businessman using laptop and cell phone in armchair


Today, it’s easier than ever for single (or non-single; we don’t judge) men to take a stab at the game of love. The prevalence of online dating services and apps like Tinder or Badoo means that even the most demure gentleman can easily find and get in touch with potential dates. Maybe sparks will fly, maybe not—but even if it’s the latter, the next potential love-of-a-lifetime candidate might just be a swipe away.

The simple fact is that online dating has become a dominant force in the courtship landscape of 2016, and has forever changed what is deemed the “normal” way for relationships to start. This, however, also brings us to the second possible outcome of online dating: online breakups.

Ending an offline relationship isn’t exactly easy, but there are quite a few well-established “rules” that most people follow. Or, at the very least, the stages of a breakup—whether it’s amicable or drama-filled—are usually predictable. When a large part of the relationship still happens online, the dynamics of rejection begin to shift. Naturally, new terms started popping up to help explain these new dynamics. So, from hot to cold to deathly-cool, here are the three most popular ways to deal with online rejection:



1. Simmering

It’s come to the point that you can’t shake the feeling that there’s actually something wrong between you and your partner, but you’re not ready to admit defeat yet—or you simply aren’t ready to completely let go yet. What do you do? You simply let things simmer: Turn the heat down, cut down on communication and minimize actual face-to-face meetings.

Again, most people who let a relationship simmer down are already considering about ending it for good, but still want a “safety net” of sorts while they start looking for other options. On the flip side, the party being simmered will inevitably notice that something’s awfully wrong but without a sense of certainty.



2. Icing

As the term suggests, this means putting a relationship on ice—as in, putting it indefinitely on hold. Much like simmering, the tendency to ice a partner in a troubled relationship comes a lot easier when it’s online-based. And it is quite easy to pull off; all you need to do is come up with an argument that’s hard to reason against (e.g., “I’ve got back-to-back deadlines!” and optionally tack on a glimpse of hope at the end, like “But, of course, we can go out after my schedule clears up a bit.”)

Make no mistake, though: Your partner will likely know exactly what’s going on, and the longer you put off clearing things up, the more resentment will grow until it pushes their hand into open confrontation.



3. Ghosting

When confronted with the idea of letting a relationship simmer into oblivion or putting it on ice until it melts away any trace of affection, some people opt instead to simply disappear like a ghost on a misty night. Once again, when the bulk of conversation between partners is held via text messages and the occasional Skype session, disappearing is as easy as blacklisting a couple of contact numbers.

The sound of silence, though, can be loud indeed, and after a short period, resentment will replace any lingering doubt about the fate of the relationship. Rest assured that this resentment will simmer for a long, long time. For better or worse, “simmering,” “icing” and “ghosting” have become part of today’s dating culture, both as new terms that will eventually follow the likes of “twerking” and make their way into dictionaries, and also as real issues that many couples may have to deal with. Or perhaps this is simply a natural evolution of romantic relationships in the smartphone age.



Finally, it can be argued that the best way to cut a troubled relationship short is—and always has been—by conclusively ending it. In other words, make your parting words unmistakable and precise, in a way that won’t allow your intent to be misunderstood by an emotional soon-to-be-ex-partner. Some call this approach “power parting,” and many see it as the most honorable way of parting, especially for a relationship that started and is then ended online. It’s just that love has never been a clear-cut game, so being left to simmer in anger, being put on ice or watching a date disappear like a ghost are all possibilities that anyone dabbling in online dating must be prepared for.