Nothing appears off-limits for calling it quits in an age of instant messaging: email, text, IM, Instagram, SnapChart or even a Post-It note. “Are you kidding me!” a college coed lamented to her girlfriends. “He broke off our relationship with a Post-It.”
This decline in common-sense manners has not gone unnoticed: Some dating websites are now posting etiquette guides for when things just aren’t working out. JDate, a match-making service credited with leading to more than 50 percent of today’s on-line Jewish marriages, uses its “advice and help” section for invaluable insight on falling in-and-out of a relationship.
Bowing out with grace for Jewish singles means being held to a very high standard, according to their set of religious strictures. Etiquette guides come-and-go with the times, but for Jewish singles it is written (partially) in stone to observe two over-riding commandments in the romance department: do not embarrass another person, which is considered a huge shonda (shame), and even more important, never speak losh-n-horah (gossip) against another person.
Here are a few of the “Do(s)” and “Don’t(s)” that have appeared on religious websites and have the rabbinic seal of approval in making the best of a bad situation:
Do Break Up in Person: Resist the temptation to take the easy way out. Give your ex-partner the dignity he or she deserves. Electronic transmissions are never a good option, especially when it comes to honoring important shared experiences. Why do something that will make a person feel worse!
Don’t Drag Out the Break-Up: Avoid prolonging the pain by over-talking an embarrassing situation. This could lead to finger-pointing that should be avoided at all costs. Don’t resort to cliches such as “It’s me, not you.” Try a more honest and believable approach such as: “I’m sorry things didn’t work out.”
Do Deal with the Details Later: Pick a less emotional time to ask for your favorite sweater back or talk about unused concert tickets. Material possessions can be dealt with later when things feel calmer.
Gossip is the Ultimate Don’t: Talking trash about the person you just ended things with, or vice-versa, is bad form and extremely hurtful. Our rabbis warn us that gossip is considered the lowest level of speech and tarnishes the speaker more than the intended target. By taking the high road, you protect your reputation and spiritual well being.
Don’t Be Friends:
Transitioning from an intimate to a platonic relationship can be a complicated process. Save the thought for another day down the road. And don’t try and leave the door open to loving someone who no longer feels the same way about you.
Do Time The Break-Up With Care: Choose a date that does not fall on a special day, for example, Valentine’s Day, or an anniversary or birthday. Consider waiting a few days if your partner is dealing with a personal loss.
Resist the Urge to Ask ‘Why’: If a relationship isn’t right for your partner, then it’s not right for you. It’s not a good idea to put your former love interest on the spot during what can be an embarrassing and difficult time. Moving on is perhaps a better decision than trying to deal with what could be an emotional head-on collision. A more constructive approach is to ask yourself what you’ve learned from this experience.
Keep Your Dignity In Tact: Depart with grace and dignity and minimize the drama. Even better, eliminate the drama altogether. Perhaps that means keeping your feelings of rejection to yourself instead of lashing out. We live in a world of so-called “reality” television where ratcheting up the drama is good for ratings, but this is real life, and that means—above all—maintaining your self-respect when being tested (with or without cameras present).
Robyn Dolgin is a contributing writer to Jlife Magazine.