DANNY MOLOSHOK/associated press


Recent rumours have suggested Britney Spears dumped hubby Kevin Federline by text message.

Text message received: It’s over. I want a divorce. How’s that for getting dumped?!?

With technology rampant, even in relationships, the topic of breaking up by e-mail, fax or text message is controversial enough that I was asked for my opinion on CBC-TV’s Sunday morning Newsroom.

Frankly, I feel strongly that it’s the coward’s way out.

No doubt many of you have either been the one doing the dumping, or been dumped. It’s normal, and part of the process of finding a true life-long partner. Most people have had several relationships before they find the person with whom they wish to marry.

But breaking up is hard to do. No matter how long the relationship has been going, or how deeply you’re entrenched, dumping and being dumped are tough emotional hurdles to pass through.

I asked a couple of teenagers and adolescents how they do the breakup, and they said, over the phone, which, at that stage, is acceptable.

It’s much better than doing what many adults do, which is to avoid the situation, or disappear, or simply start to act increasingly mean, forcing the other person to take matters into their own hands.

Years ago, I heard that Phil Collins, the singer/songwriter, divorced his second wife via fax. I thought that was incredibly callous and cold-hearted of him. I don’t know what their situation was, whether they had an iron-clad prenuptial agreement that left no room for discussion anyway, but I just couldn’t believe a person would be able to cut ties with someone whom they once loved in such a heartless and impersonal fashion.

Recently, rumours have run rampant that Britney Spears requested a divorce from her husband, and father of her two children, Kevin Federline, by text message. That brings up the question: What is proper e-mail/text etiquette? And can it be used in this type of situation?

My answer is absolutely not.

Both e-mail and text messaging are fantastic immediate-gratification tools for people to communicate with each other. They’re great for inter-office communication; for setting up meetings and conferences; for quick back and forth questions; for keeping in touch with long-distance friends; and for planning get-togethers.

But what it’s not good for is expressing emotion. Sure, you can add emoticons, or dots and dashes to represent happy faces or sad ones, but that’s merely decoration.

If you have something important that you need to get across to someone, and if you care even the slightest about their feelings, the best way to communicate is in person. If that’s not possible, then pick up the phone.

If you’re afraid of flying off the handle, or breaking into hysterical sobs, take the time to write a letter — a proper hand-written one.

But when it comes to ending a relationship, don’t be a coward — don’t rely on your computer or text messaging to do your dirty work and relay your message.


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