Editor’s Note: This article is part of a campaign titled #JustNotInterested, run jointly by Feminism in India and Tinder, to unpack and understand consent, disinterest and expectations in relationships. The campaign curates conversations on Instagram stories on various facts of modern relationships. This article is based on one of those conversations.
Relationships are complicated and rejections are often, if not always, a part of most relationships. Being turned down can be a sensitive issue for some while others take it more sportingly. The campaign run by FII with Tinder aims to bring attention to how the question of disinterest can be tackled by both parties, thereby ensuring a healthy manner of doing so and consequently promoting more consensual relationships.
Expressing disinterest is difficult for both the people involved, probably more so for the one getting turned down. Hence, both rejecting someone and being rejected by someone should preferably be done in a cordial manner unless the relationship demands otherwise. Amicable breakups aid the process of moving on from the relationship and avoid any bitterness that generally ensues. In the digital era, the medium through which one turns someone down can significantly alter the experience of that breakup.
An Instagram chat conducted by FII gathered multiple opinions about the medium through which they prefer to break up with somebody, or be broken up with – varying from a text to a meeting in person. While some preferred the space that texting provides by giving people the chance to think and react at their own convenience, others preferred doing it face-to-face for a more personal touch.
“I think I prefer texting because it gives you time to compose your thoughts without having the pressure of the person watching you. An immediate response in person has more chances of becoming nasty and immature,” replied one respondent.
While texting certainly has its benefits, with its ability to give people the chance to react appropriately and avoid a situation where they are under pressure, some people would consider it insensitive.
One respondent who would prefer being turned down in person said, “This may also be just my opinion, but I would feel disrespected when someone couldn’t turn me down in person, especially if we have spent a lot of time together. I think the time spent together or the intensity of the relationship also has something to do with which medium I would use to turn someone down.“
There is no single right or wrong way to break up with someone or to turn them down. The nature of the relationship, as well as its duration, must be taken into consideration while deciding the best means of doing so. A long, serious relationship demands a more personal rejection – preferably face-to-face. This will ensure that the person who is turned down gets some closure as well as the respect they deserve, considering the time and effort that were invested in the relationship.
In the digital era, the medium through which one turns someone down can significantly alter the experience of that breakup.
Recalling their own experience with a breakup, a respondent replied, “As someone who has been broken up with on the phone, I think it’s definitely very disrespectful to me and to the relationship.”
A casual relationship, perhaps with a person one has gone out with only a handful of times, might warrant a lower level of engagement during a breakup. With the advent of online dating, one can easily “unmatch” with someone or tell them that they’re not interested in them as there wasn’t really any emotional connection to begin with. However, the strength of a bond is often independent of the time spent together, and it is best to take a call on how to end a dalliance in a way that best fits the nature of the relationship, which is something only you can decide. Being sensitive and empathetic though, cuts across relationship types.
According to a respondent, “If it’s turning (down) people who I don’t know very well, I’d rather do it over text. Guys can be super dramatic and pushy so, I’d rather do it over text. Turning me down, again, if it’s someone I don’t know very well, they can choose to do it however they want. But, a breakup should always be (done) in person. Because we’ve emotionally connected for a period of time, no matter how short. And a text or call does not do justice to what we’ve had. And the breakup should be a conversation, preferably. Not a monologue. Most people understand (not all) and that will help in a better and more calm break.”
While one doesn’t necessarily owe someone an explanation for turning them down or ending a casual relationship, respecting the other person’s feelings goes a long way.
While it seems more ideal to end a relationship in person owing to its duration and consideration for the other person involved, it might not always be so. Sometimes, relationships can turn bitter and someone’s partner may not be willing to accept that fact and act stubborn or persuasive. In spite of a fairly long relationship, a breakup over phone or text might be more suitable. Sometimes, people can refuse to take no for an answer and create situations which are awkward for the other person while being turned down. Keeping in mind the personality and the emotional state of the person being rejected might actually make the experience easier for both parties.
“If you’ve been constantly trying to break up with someone who is really clingy and been failing at it for that fact that the person simply refuses to let go on an emotional level, it is best for both parties to break up over text. Although breaking up face to face would be ideal for a person who may be willing to listen to your side of the story and be willing to let go. It is not suited for someone otherwise. Sometimes it becomes necessary to turn someone down harshly to make them let you go. It is better to be hated than to have that person wait forever for something that isn’t going to happen.”
Every relationship has its own nuances. Understanding the nature of a relationship is the primary step in deciding the best plan of action during a breakup. While one doesn’t necessarily owe someone an explanation for turning them down or ending a casual relationship, respecting the other person’s feelings goes a long way. Only by inculcating healthier ways of rejecting someone as well as handling that rejection can we create a more consensual dating culture.
Featured Image Credit: Wesley Johnson (via TeenVogue)