How to Respond to a Breakup Email


There are good ways to get dumped, and there are bad ways to get dumped. Generally, getting dumped via e-mail falls somewhere between Face to face when I knew it was coming and text message from his new girlfriend. It’s not a good feeling when “You’ve got mail” becomes “You’ve been dumped,” but you can make the best of it.

Here are some ways to make the most of your reply:
  • Resist the urge to immediately forward the breakup e-mail to everyone in your address book, while texting and Tweeting your friends about what happened. Unless the e-mail contains some really hilarious highlights, keep it private. You might want read it to a trusted friend who can help you draft a response, but his 1,200-word missive on why he doesn’t love you anymore doesn’t need to go viral.
  • Write down everything you want to say in a Word document. Call him names, tell him you faked it, and then beg him to take you back. And then send it to the recycling bin. Phew. Glad we got a few “F bombs” out of the system!
  • Take a few hours to think of your actual response. In the meantime, take a bath, go for a run, read about Jessica Simpson’s breakup (celebs! They get dumped just like us!). While you’re doing this, consider a few things: First, do you even need to reply? He e-mailed you. To break up. Can we fill that under “F” for what he can now go do to himself and call it a day? (If you’re like every other female, probably not, but it’s worth considering.)
  • If you decide you must write, what’s your goal here? Do you want him to feel bad? Take you back? Regret it? If he’s e-mailing you, he probably checked out weeks ago, so remember that no matter what you say, he’s not going to feel that bad.
  • Keep it short and to the point. Start with an opening remark that points out that this is a 10 on the Wuss Scale. If you still care about him: “I really would have appreciated you telling me this in person. Seriously??” If he was a douche bag to begin with: “An e-mail? Well, I would have expected nothing less from a guy who is living at home because he’s 30 years old and still thinks his band is ‘totally gonna make it.’”
  • Then respond to his reason for breaking up with you.If it’s a good reason (“I just can’t do the long distance thing anymore”), acknowledge it, and feel free to include a “but.” Example: “I understand that things have changed since college, but I thought we both cared enough to keep working at it.” If it’s a stupid reason, respond to it directly, laced with as much bitchiness/sarcasm as you’d like. Example: “Oh you want to see other people?? Because women are just lining up to date a guy on unemployment with a receding hairline? Well, don’t let me stand in your way.”
  • If you’re heartbroken, it’s tempting to really to try to make him feel bad. But this is your dignity on the line. You can say, “I’m really shocked and upset. Our relationship meant a lot to me and it’s going to take me a little while to get over this.” You probably shouldn’t say, “How could you??? You told me you loved me. I’ll never get over you.”
  • Making bold declarations can come back to bite you in the ass when you can’t stick with them. “I hate you and never want to talk to you again” loses all of its power when you get drunk and call him in three days. Err on the side of caution, ’cause you’re probably gonna get drunk and call him in three days.
  • Don’t bother to tell him – in any way, shape, or form – that he’s going to regret it. It looks desperate. You don’t need to give him a long list of all the reasons you’re better off without him. And don’t say “thank you.” People looooove to say “thank you” in breakup emails! “Thank you for making me realize…” No. Unnecessary.
  • It’s OK to write, “It’s hard to be upset about this when I’ve been boning your brother all summer” – but only if it’s true.
  • Above all, do not swing between hurt, hysterical, and vengeful.“You’ll never find anyone better than me” plus “I will always love you” plus “You’re a f****** piece of s***” adds up to crazy. And once you put crazy on the Internet, there’s no getting it back.
  • Don’t write back with the goal of changing his mind or getting a good response. He went through e-mail because he clearly doesn’t want to talk about it.Subsequent e-mails are going to get shorter and shorter (if he responds to you at all).

As annoying as it is to get dumped by e-mail, try to remember you’ve been given a gift. Not only are you free of a man who thinks it’s appropriate to breakup via e-mail, but you also have a chance to think about your response. You can cut and paste. You can choose your words carefully. And you can hide your pain. You may be sobbing whilst double-fisting whipped cream and tequila, blasting “I Will Survive” as you prepare to hit “Send,” but he doesn’t have to know that.