Breaking Up Over The Phone | Ethicality And How To Do It?

Your ex might call you selfish, insensitive, immature, and whatnot for choosing to hide behind the technology in matters of the heart. But for you, the breakup is what might matter and not the way you communicate it. So, what should you do?

Breaking up over the phone is harsh and unethical unless you fear that your soon-to-be-ex might behave aggressively. Always choose to face the person and end things courteously. You were in a relationship with them and shared some good times, so they deserve some respect.

Now there is no right or wrong way to go about it. It’s about honorably parting ways in whichever way you find convenient.

When Is It Acceptable To Break Up Over The Phone?

There are only a few exceptional situations where breaking up over the phone is acceptable.

Not everyone believes in the traditional way of breaking up when people are just a call and text away. Being considerate and empathetic is the key here.

1. If It Was A Casual Relationship

It is acceptable to end things over the phone in relationships where neither of you cares about what the other person does, and there is no commitment.

Think about friends with benefits situations that have been going on only for a few weeks or have become less frequent over a long period.

They won’t mind much because they never cared, and neither did you.

When there is no emotional connection, or things are purely physical, we believe that the other person will easily accept a breakup over the phone to avoid making things awkward.

If It Was A Casual Relationship

2. When You’ve Only Been Dating

Technically, breakups come after a relationship. But if there was no relationship in the first place?

If you were just dating each other, you could simply decide to stop seeing each other. Typically, dates should convert into a relationship if you have been on 7-10 dates.

If you don’t feel like entering into a relationship by then, you weren’t going anywhere with this person anyway.

Thus, if you have known this person only for a couple of months and met them less than seven times, breaking up over the phone is totally acceptable.

You can be somewhat sure that they haven’t developed extremely strong feelings for you yet. They won’t be expecting a traditional breakup speech from you.

Nor would they be willing to give one themselves. So keep the conversation light and short.

However, avoid doing it on the phone if you guys were good friends before you started going out.

TABLE: People On Acceptable Ways Of Breaking Up

Method Of BreakupAcceptableSomewhat AcceptableNot Acceptable
In person100%0%0%
Voice or video call57%27%16%
Dropping a text32%39%29%
Asking someone else to convey17%19%64%
Posting a social media status9%12%79%
Sudden ghosting2%3%95%
Source: Based on a survey by consisting of 717 individuals between the ages of 18-54 years.

3. You Have A Jittery Personality

You can break up over the phone if you feel that you won’t be able to gather the courage to do it in person. This isn’t much of a valid excuse but let’s be real here.

Not all of us are confident enough to just walk up to the person we love and say it’s over.

There are a ton of emotions involved, and breakups are notorious for being high-octane situations.

If you feel that this breakup will make you anxious to the point of a breakdown, and you may panic while doing it face to face, then it’s better to do it on the phone.

Let your partner know that this is the only reason why you couldn’t face them and how hard breaking up is for you as well.

4. You Are Too Emotional

If you know for sure that after seeing your partner, you will change your decision to end things for good, then it’s better to break up over the phone.

You might have tried doing this before, but maybe you could never go through with it because seeing them weakens you.

In-person they somehow talk you out of the breakup, or you become intimate ‘for the last time’, which throws everything out of the room.

Over the phone, you can stick to your decision without being manipulated by your partner or the circumstances.

5. You’ve Only Been In Contact Through Your Phone

Sometimes people, especially teens and young adults, date someone online for a while, even get into a relationship but never meet each other.

It could be due to parental restrictions in conservative societies or general shyness before they’re comfortable enough.

The relationship has nothing going on outside in the real world like dinners, movies, hiking, etc., but they spend hours and hours on texts and calls.

Thus, there is no logic in meeting a person you just chatted with online, to give them the sad news of a breakup. It seems a stretch since the whole thing was virtual.

If it has started online and never turned into something meaningful, there is no harm in ending it online.

You can do it through text messages, or if you talk to them on calls, then you can take that route as well.

6. When It’s Not Possible To Meet Them

When you’ve been in a long-distance relationship, not being able to meet them gives a fair enough reason to break up over the phone.

It won’t be easy to travel that far, end things with them and return with a heavy heart feeling broken.

You also need time to process the breakup, and travelling alone with a rush of feelings will not help.

Your partner would understand your limitations, and perhaps they won’t feel offended because of doing it over a call.

But they might not take the breakup well, like most people during breakups.

When It’s Not Possible To Meet Them

7. The Person Might Harm You Physically

Put an end to it over the phone if you believe it’s not safe for you to be around them while breaking up.

Your partner may be abusive and violent, and perhaps this is one of the biggest reasons why you’re breaking up with them.

This person might have previously tried to harm you and harassed you countless times.

So, if you are afraid that after knowing that you are dumping them, this person will get aggressive and injure you or themselves physically, your fears aren’t irrational.

End this over the phone and ghost them forever for your own safety.

How To Break Up Over The Phone?

To break up over the phone, call them between 9-11 pm and only when you’re sure they’ll be somewhere private. Ruining someone’s morning isn’t a great idea. Be extra careful about your choice of words as the person cannot see your facial expressions, and there are high chances of misunderstandings.

1. Sleep Over Your Words

You might be raring to go with your rant about how unhappy you were in a relationship but hold your horses until tomorrow.

When in the comfort of our homes and not physically near someone, we tend to go a bit overboard with our words, especially the harsh ones.

Introspect whether or not you need to say something that you want to. Needs and wants are different things.

You can be extremely cold and cruel through words and maybe even threaten your partner, but there is no coming back once those words are out of your mouth.

You may apologize later and even get back together with your ex, but things will never be the same. Think about the pros and cons of your statements.

Heck, even write down a few pointers related to what you want to say. And then cross the unnecessary items off your list.

2. Make A Plan And A Rough Script

First of all, you need to plan how you want this to go. Where do you want them to be when you give them a call or drop a text to break the news?

Should they be surrounded by people who will take care of them after the heart-shattering revelation, or are you sure they have seen it coming and can handle this alone?

Next, think of every possible reaction you can get from the person listening and accordingly plan what all to say and what to avoid.

Even after all this planning, there will be unforeseen moments. You’ll have to tackle them skillfully, keeping the other person’s emotions in mind.

Afterall, you are the one who is breaking up. Next, expand upon some of your quick pointers a bit so you don’t get confused and do not miss anything.

3. Give A Little Heads Up With A Call Or Text

You know how shocking and deeply disturbing the breakup could be for someone who is not expecting it. You don’t want to catch them unaware, do you?

You should drop a few hints before sharing this excruciating news with them. First, drop a text saying that you guys need to talk about this relationship.

Then, ask them to give a call or ping whenever they are free to talk.

Also, they can text the estimated time when they can be free to take calls so that you are the one who is initiating the text or call.

Make sure that your hint reflects the seriousness of the situation and it doesn’t get postponed indefinitely. This is enough to leave strong clues.

4. Contact When It’s Convenient

If relationships are private affairs, so is breaking up.

Do not break it to them if they are at their workplace, driving, or in a public place because you don’t know how much of an impact it will put on the other person.

If you have some idea about where they would be when you call or about the people around them at that time, even better.

Act accordingly to minimize any embarrassment to them due to an emotional outburst.

If not, then the ideal scenario is to wait till they are alone and somewhere private where they can freely express their emotions and won’t feel humiliated publicly.

The same goes for you. You’ll be able to express your thoughts thoroughly when there are no distractions around.

So, do not drop breakup texts while watching TV or get on the call while you have guests over.

Contact When It’s Convenient

5. Be Careful In Your Approach

You need to understand the delicacy of the matter and be direct at the same time. Don’t beat around the bush with your texts or waste time with small chit chat over the call.

When a person gets the gist of what’s coming and sees you standing firmly behind your decision, they just want to be done with the breaking up part as soon as possible.

Before that, they might try to convince you otherwise, which is quite normal.

Delaying the breakup with rhetorical statements would only make them more anxious and perhaps even a bit furious.

And don’t forget to be gentle while telling them your decision. For example, tell them you want to break up, followed by a proper reason behind why you are doing this.

6. Give The Honest And Unfiltered Reason For Breaking Up

You must be prepared for this part in advance because you can’t just call up your partner, say “We’re no longer together because I am dumping you”, and leave anyone without giving reasons.

You should know exactly why you want to end this and convey the same to your partner.

Don’t let them hang in there wondering what went wrong, which is even more painful than telling the truth.

Be honest and give them proper closure so that they can begin moving past this phase. Also, being unfiltered is not the same as being rude.

Yes, being unfiltered is important to present the picture as it is, but do keep the point in mind of choosing your words cautiously and not being deliberately hurtful.

7. Open Your Heart Out

Even though you are the one who is breaking up, it is not easy for you as well to end things like this. And your partner should know exactly how you feel.

Else, they will leave thinking you did have an iota of feelings for them or maybe never loved them. Thus, pour your heart out on the phone without expecting anything.

Also, talk about all the good times you have shared even after all the differences and how much you have grown as a person by being in their company.

They should know that they had a deep impact on your life, and it is something that you will cherish forever.

This may sound like cliched advice and fluff, but when everything seems to be going downhill, these remarks can lighten the situation, become memorable, and help you leave on a positive note.

8. Listen To What They Have To Say

By the time the news hits them, your partner will be feeling a rush of emotions. Since you’re not physically present near them, you cannot provide any comforting last hugs.

They can be in shock, so try to converse with them and help them speak their heart out.

Even if they show anger, break down, or start to curse you, just listen to them in complete silence. This is the best you can do.

Do not say anything that may provoke them to end the call with eternal hatred for you. Do not end the call abruptly.

Be open to approach if they had difficulty understanding the reasons for breaking up. Why is this important?

Because you do not want to be bugged endlessly (or even stalked) just because someone feels they weren’t heard enough.

A stalker will stalk, no matter what, but we’re trying to minimize the chances here.

9. Do Not Blame The Other Person

When explaining your point of view, try not to take a veiled dig or offend them in any way. Remember our observation about ‘speaking more than we should’ on a call?

Instead of saying things like “You were very controlling” or “Your insecurities suffocated me”, say something like “I like freedom and in our relationship I felt it was missing”.

The key is to shift the blame onto yourself even if you believe otherwise. Why?

Because taking the blame does not come easily to most people and the argument would only spiral out of control.

Say that you are the one who is finding being together difficult and making adjustments. No matter what, do not use abusive language and disrespect the other person.

Do Not Blame The Other Person

10. Don’t Suggest Being In Contact

The worst thing you can suggest is something like, “I’ll still have your number saved, so call me whenever you need me. This isn’t our last conversation”.

You’ll only prolong your ex’s misery. Tell them it would be easier on both of you if you completely block each other, including social media.

Further, tell them that you aren’t doing it out of spite but because it would be hard on you to see them or even read their name accidentally and not feel overwhelmed by emotions.

Out of guilt and to make it easier for them, you may feel like staying in touch with them to help them get through the heartbreak.

The idea of remaining on friendly terms immediately after a breakup is like putting a band-aid on a big wound instead of getting a dressing from the doctor.

It doesn’t do much, might even worsen the situation, and will hurt when you pull it off. If you want to separate, then break it off completely.

There should be no middle ground. Either you are together, or you are not. Don’t leave space for ifs and buts or hope for the future.

Don’t contact them and give them time to grieve and heal without your presence.

Is It Better To Break Up Over The Phone Or Text?

Breaking up over a phone call is better than breaking up through texts. You can convey a lot in a short time. Also, voice and video calls have the advantage of non-verbal cues and voice intonations that text messages cannot provide. Choose texts only if the other person behaves irrationally.

1. They Cannot Ignore You On A Call

Breaking up over a phone call minimizes the chances of your partner shutting you down completely without even letting you know how they feel or what they are thinking.

The only way they can ignore you is by not picking up your call altogether. Further, silent treatments feel a lot more awkward on calls than on texts or even in person.

You blurt out something sooner or later!

If your partner starts getting abusive or aggressive, you can always switch back to basic texts or ignore them altogether for their behavior.

2. Breaking Up Over Text Is Time Consuming

While talking on the phone, the other person is all ears. You can end the whole breakup conversation in a single flow without interruptions.

On the other hand, on text messages, it totally depends on the other person if they are willing to respond or not.

They can leave your message on seen and reply at their leisure. It can take you hours to get their attention and divert the conversation towards the real breakup talk.

Or the other way is to be abrupt, leave a breakup text and block them. But this would attract more unwanted calls, texts, or even personal visits.

Also, you won’t be able to gauge the situation or give your counters that quickly over texts. Note that we aren’t talking about throwing insults when we say counters.

They simply refer to explaining your part of the story or rebuttal of an unjust accusation.

3. Voice Calls Have Better Emotional Connect

Breaking up over text can make you look rude and insensitive in other people’s eyes.

It may make your partner furious since they might form the opinion that their value is so less in your eyes that you feel you can dispose of them from your life with just a text!

While on call, the chances are high that you’ll be better understood and given a chance to say everything that you want.

The tone of voice provides clarity about how the other person is feeling.

They will get to listen to your highs and lows and realize that you are equally heartbroken, and parting ways is hard for you as well.

But this would only work if you really are troubled. Faking it isn’t as easy as you think.

If you want to fake your emotions and put up a façade, text messages should be your preferred route.

4. There Are High Chances Of Being Misunderstood Over Text

Text messages can change the meaning of our words for other people. You don’t know how they will perceive the things you write.

It’s true for verbal or face to face communication too but such misunderstandings are less frequent.

And you can’t immediately explain yourself as they might see the text later, and you might not be available at that time.

While on call, you can have a heart-to-heart conversation leaving minimal space for miscommunication.

When the situation is so sensitive, you want no misunderstandings that might leave both of you with bitter last memories.

One should take any measures to avoid these hiccups.

There Are High Chances Of Being Misunderstood Over Text


Breaking up over the phone is okay if you can’t meet the person due to genuine reasons like a long-distance relationship, lockdown, having a history of being manipulated by them, or in case of safety issues.

While breaking up over the phone, try not to be too abrupt and rude just because you feel secure while doing so. Convey what you have to say maturely.

Don’t accuse the other person, shout over the phone, or go on a rant without giving them a chance to speak. Listen first!

Try to end things on a good note and treat it as your last conversation.

Shashank Verma

A trained theatre actor and a STEM graduate who brings perspectives and methods from these worlds into dating and relationships. Also a big time Krav Maga enthusiast and practitioner.

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