Friday, May 30, 2008

Incompetent Advice: The ABCs of the Email Kiss-Off

Hey Shannon!

I know your snarky sense of humor and your great way of being blunt while being entertaining. I also know you have a lot more experience with men than I do. So I thought you might be interested in tackling a subject in your blog for me -- how to write a good breakup email.

Mine is not your average breakup. I'm the person that the "It's Complicated" relationship status was made for in Facebook. For the past 5 1/2 years, my heart has very stupidly been attached to this one guy, the person who has, most of the time, been my best friend. But this whole time there's been this big back-and-forth thing going on. We don't fight and we've had exactly one relationship discussion. We just smolder.

Fast forward to this weekend, when he apparently slept with [redacted famous person], the [redacted famous occupation – I’m such a tease, huh?]. Not only that, but he texted me in the process of picking her up, and then left a message on Twitter about how he still smelled like her the next day.

We haven't spoken since, so he's aware that he's in the doghouse, most likely. But at some point he's going to write and I'm going to have to send him something saying along the lines of "You apparently just want a bragging buddy, and I need to not be the person that you think so little of that it's okay to rub other women in my face." Except not like that. I've written out a letter, but it's horrible. It's half passive-aggression, half self-loathing and a lot of misery.

So anyway, I thought you might like to do something on breakup mails. And if you even want to gimme the mickey for being the stupid idiot who's stuck around for 5 years, that's fine too. Anyway, I hope you don't mind me spilling all this on you. And if I haven't said so lately, I love your blog. :)

-[Redacted, But Not the Redacted Famous Person with a Redacted Famous Occupation]

I’m always happy to tell people what they should do with their lives. Especially when they call me talented and skanky within the first paragraph. Awesome, thanks! No matter, let’s get on with it.

Wow, this man is tacky. He’s a kiss-and-tell, or, rather, a TMI-and-TMI. You’re well shot of him. But as you seem to know that, and regret this sordid little chapter in your life, so I’m not going to chuck further pearls of wisdom at your head. And I think we’ve all been in similar situations, where we choose to believe in someone despite all evidence of asshatery.

Instead, I’m going to discuss How to Send an Email You Won’t Regret. My “experience” with men dovetails nicely with my history of sending comically regrettable emails. I’m sort of an expert on the email emotion-barf. And why I normally think email breakups of any kind are bad, if your primary relationship with someone is online, then fine.

First Rule: Email is pretty much the worst idea, ever. It can be forwarded, broadcast, and live on forever on the bathroom wall of the Internet. A phone call or snail mail might be better.
Can’t cope with a call? Out of stamps? Absolutely must email?

Fine, Rule 2: Make your point, then stop talking. The more you say, the more ammunition you’re giving him. Keep it simple: this is how I feel, so we shouldn’t talk any more, over and out.

Rule 3: Whatever you do choose to say, leave the email alone for a few days. Don’t send it right away, because Tuesday’s deep statement on life will be Wednesday’s festival of self-pitying wacky emotion-barfing.

Rule 4: When in doubt, employ a ghostwriter. Here’s my suggestion:

“I feel our friendship has run its course. We’ve discussed my feelings for you, and that’s why I’m hurt by your latest actions. I don’t want to speculate why you would tell me about something I clearly would not want to know. I hope you were simply being clueless, and not callous. Either way, please do not contact me again. Do believe I wish you well, however, I just can’t be your friend any more.”

Anyone else have advice, ideas, opinions, ghostwrites, words of encouragement, etc?

If you’d like to be featured in an upcoming Incompetent Advice, in which I solve the problems of people who aren't nearly as messed up as I am, send your questions to


Anonymous said...

Difficult as it is to do, I feel silence says a great deal more than anything you could ever say out loud or in writing.

Velvet said...

Wait, you said she called you skanky. No, she said snarky! That's a good thing!

Though now I wonder just how skanky you are...hmmm....

Anyway, she should write the evilest email and not send it. Then she should just not answer his calls. Not talking to someone is the best way to end the relationship. You can't have a relationship anymore if you don't call them back.

Shannon said...

Velvet, I was snarking on the writer saying I was "experienced with men."

Frecks and Velvet, I thought about saying she should just cease all contact. It's a matter of personal preference - I personally would want to send some sort of message, or it would eat away at me. If you're the sort of person who can just pick up and move on, no contact at all would be a valid choice.

lacochran said...

Um, how about creating a bogus "medical office" email address and sending a note addressed to the asshat that *oops!* is actually sent to the [redacted famous person] detailing his lengthy STD test results?


lemmonex said...

Please do not drink before sending/writing said email.

I find I am like Shannon in that I MUST SAY MY PIECE. I NEED TO BE HEARD. I have a shockingly intense desire to make the person know what a twatwaffle they were.

Hence, I could probably wallpaper a room in the amount of emails I have written that are kinda crazy/kinda funny/very honest/make things awkward.

It really has gotten better as I have gotten older and matured a lot, but it still happens. Generally when a lot of booze is involved. Proceed with caution.

Shannon said...

Lacochran, do redacted famous people have redacted addresses? Are STDs redactable?

Lemmonex, I second you on being safe n' sober when sending out an emotion-laden email. Personally, I hand over my cellphone or switch it off after three drinks. (Plus, my friends kindly disregard any texts sent around last call.)

Tina said...

as a reformed "must have my say" person I'm going to vote for the total silence route. I have found it annoys the crap out of most ex's WAY more than any message I've seen or heard of yet. Most people are way to impressed withtem selves to take beign ignored well. (self probably included)

Redacted non-famous person said...

First off, Shannon /= skanky. I've actually known her for many, many years and have many, many stories (feel free to offer bribes) and I would never call her that. I'm just very inexperienced. Horribly so. I actually admire Shannon a lot for not living in a cave like I have.

Second, I've tried the no-contact thing. Actually, both of us have. Sometimes for six months or more. Eventually one of us emails the other and we somehow mutually agree without discussion not to address the reason we quit speaking. I think we're both allergic to confrontation. So it's probably time to break the cycle somehow.

Finally, I'm the world's worst drunk e-mailer. I'd be the world's worst drunk texter if I went out more often without my laptop. Someday I'll get a Breathalyzer on this thing and my life will be so much better. One nice thing I'll say about Mr. TMI is that he pretty much ignores them, which is either him being kind or him taking the "if I ignore it, it won't exist" approach.

Thanks for the all of the good advice, everyone. I appreciate it. Next Shannon could tackle "How to develop social graces when you have none" so that I can find a relationship that exists offline too. I've heard of those, but I wonder if it's mythical.

Shannon said...

Tina, I guess the motivation matters - if you're trying to make a point, silence speaks volumes. If your goal is to get some closure (yay, pyschowank!) then it's best to have the confrontation.

Redacted, might I point out that 1. I freely blog about the mishaps of my youth, 2. Whatever stories you have on me, I have just as many on you!

Capitol Hill 20210 said...

you are simply awesome and I do have one for you - expect an email.....

Hey Pretty said...

since when is experience with men a bad thing?

Shannon said...

Zipcode, thanks, and I look forward to picking apart your personal life for the enjoyment of my readers.

HP, nah, it's not a bad thing. No Madonna/whore issues here. I just thought Redacted's wording was hilarious.