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The Tao of Polite Dumping
The Tao of Polite Dumping

By Poorna Shetty

Remember that golden era when break-ups happened in the hushed environs of a restaurant or café?

Nowadays you’re more likely to find out your relationship has ended in a message that has bounced its way to you via satellite.

It’s hard to pinpoint which is the more unsavoury -  that the text or email took only moments to compose, that your sweetheart didn’t respect you enough to do it in person, or that this is where dating evolution has left us, in a place where manners are as disposable as the people being dumped.

Some might say that it is because we’re more prolific with our relationships than in the past  . . . tosh. Marilyn Monroe and Elizabeth Taylor could beat even the most rampant present-day starlet when it came to juggling lovers, and the idea of a text to end an affair would have been an anathema.

Kevin Braddock, Contributing Editor for GQ and a former love columnist, says that, unfortunately, technology has started to dictate the type of relationships we have. “Online dating has definitely made our relationships more throwaway and, because technology is so easy to hide behind, it alters the way we relate to one another.”

As Twitter joins the legion of techno-aids for notifying someone that you’re no longer an item, it’s easy to feel gloomy that we’ll grow increasing reliant on such methods.

Toby Young defends the use of emails and text. They may reduce the effort for the dumper, but he thinks they ease the pain on the dumpee, as well.

“As someone who has had to sit in a restaurant on countless occasions being told by a woman that she just doesn’t have the time for a relationship right now,” he says, “I think I would have much preferred to be broken up with in a couple of lines or less, preferably via Twitter.”

But, dear gentlereader, there is a bright spot. However rife such practices may be, bypassing decency in the love department will always be frowned upon. That’s why Phil Collins, Sex And The City’s Jack Berger and Peter Andre will always occupy the space marked “cretin” (yes, it has to be said). They used, respectively, a fax machine, a Post-It and the phone to end it with their much better halves.

“I think people are awful to do it [using modern technology],” says Peter York, social commentator and MIEN Magazine favourite.  “If you want to clear the air but find it hard to accomplish it in person, you can’t go wrong with a letter using beautiful heavy paper, with an embossed address on top. You can even add a few tearstains for extra effect.”

* first posted on September 9, 2009

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Taking someone out to dinner, making them think it’s going to be a nice time together, and then turning the tables on them, dumping them in public, so that anyone who is watching might see them shattered and heart-broken — that’s “golden era”-like? Actually, a true gentleman/lady would never do that to person.

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