People Obsess More About How Breakups Happen Than Why

Megan Charles

Do you remember the infamous post-it breakup on Sex and the City when Berger dumped the fictional Prada-wearing protagonist of the show?

Berger is gone by dawn after weeks of rocky relationship terrain between the two writers, leaving Carrie his version of a Dear John letter, a post-it note which simply states, "I'm sorry, I can't. Don't hate me."

Throughout the entire following episode Carrie obsesses about the circumstances of the post-it breakup, but she never really analyzes why, albeit in a crummy way, other than to assume the ex didn't want to endure the uncomfortable breakup conversation.

After seeing Carrie awkwardly erupt on his friends in public, we can all see why Berger was more inclined to leave a note.

Instead, Carrie uses the scrap of yellow paper as an excuse to go out partying with her friends while licking her wounds and nearly gets arrested for smoking pot in plain view of the cops.

A study out of Indiana University's College of Arts and Sciences observed a similar trend in participating undergraduates, finding many of them focused more on the conditions of the separation, the medium used when recalling their breakups, but not so much what led up to the division.

Ilana Gershon – an associate professor in the Department of Communication and Culture at Indiana University's College of Arts and Sciences – looked at how modern people breakup with their partners, a digital milieu of texts, emails, Skype, and social media. Although face-to-face breakups were considered best form in her opinion, Gershon found text messaging was the most popular method of breakup in the US.

Gershon, the author of The Breakup 2.0: Disconnecting Over New Media, claims that Facebook and other forms of social networking have radically changed the playing field of modern dating.

The associate professor interviewed 70 undergraduate college students who often use technology. The results, published in the journal Anthropology Today, found that, when the college students spoke about their breakups, the majority first described the medium used in the conversation rather than what was said, as well as the influence of social media (Facebook) on their relationship. We often see the unfortunate unraveling of relationships play out on Facebook walls.

Gershon compared ethnographic research in other locations, such as in Japan and Britain, where the breakup story, in contrast, primarily focused on justifying why the relationship had to end and less on the medium used.

Have you ever broken up with someone using a text, tweet, email, or Facebook message? If so, why did you avoid breaking up face-to-face?

[Image via Shutterstock]