We all have one. My colleague Colette showed me the breakup text template she uses. She, along with her nine best girl friends (all in their late twenties or early thirties), swears by the text, saying she has received nothing but “really kind things in response” from the men she’s dated.
Here’s the text:
Hey! Hope you had fun hiking with your brother this weekend. I had a nice time the other night and I think you’re a really great person, but I just don’t think we’re a good match. Good luck out there, I hope you find what you’re looking for.
Make sure to personalize based on your voice and the circumstances. Here are some ways the text has been used in the wild:
Let’s first be clear about when to use this text. It’s best used for someone with whom you’ve only gone on a few dates and have decided you don’t want to see again. “I use this text for the vast majority of failed dates, which are comprised of perfectly nice, great guys who I just for some reason didn’t see myself with,” Colette says.
It’s generally not advisable to use with someone you were in any form of a real relationship with—let’s say no more than four dates. You probably don’t need to use it on someone with whom things seem like they’re fizzling out naturally.
- Keep it brief. No one wants to read a super long text and you run the risk of diluting your main point.
- Be kind but firm. The goal is to minimize pushback, but don’t relent if you get any.
- Cushion the blow. Who doesn’t like a compliment? Even when they’re getting broken up with.
- Keep the door loosely open. “Let’s be friends!” is fine, but don’t make actual plans unless you do, in fact, want to be friends.
- Be honest, but not too honest. Tell them it won’t work out. But if you found someone else you like more, or got back with your ex, maybe leave that part out.
- Apologize. You didn’t do anything wrong, it just didn’t work out.
- Use ambiguous language. You don’t want them to still think there’s a chance they’re going to score another date with you.
Why do we need the text?
We need the text because it’s mature—a way to bring order to the emotional chaos that is dating. It’s a kind thing to do for your date because it closes an emotional door that otherwise might have left them wondering where they stand or what could have been.
We need this text in particular because ending things with someone puts us in a vulnerable position. When one person rejects another—particularly when a woman rejects a man—their worst fear is that the date will respond with violence. There are too many examples of this happening to pretend it’s not a real danger; it’s part of the fear that women live with every day.
Rejecting someone can feel emotionally risky, too. “The danger is that he sends something back that can wound you,” says Andrea Silenzi, the former host of the sex and dating podcast “Why oh why.” They could whip out such daggers as: ”You don’t look like your photos” or “Whatever, it’s not like I thought we would get married.” “Dating involves such emotional fortitude, and one mean comment can knock you off your game for weeks,” Silenzi says.
But the risk is worth it, especially if the alternative is ghosting.
So don’t feel bad about using a text template. It’s good for your date, and it’s probably good for you, too. “My theory is that templatizing some common emotional interactions doesn’t make them less thoughtful,” Colette says. “It makes it easier for you to be better to others by removing some of the emotional burden that paralyzes most of us.”