Ask Dave-She broke up with me via email

I gave her my spare set of keys, and within 48 hours she’d broken up with me. Can I fix this?

By Dave Singleton

ear Dave,
I’ve been seeing a woman for almost seven months and things were progressing well, or so I thought. We talked about our future together and even exchanged home keys. After not hearing from her for 48 hours, I feel like the other shoe has dropped. I got an email from her this morning apologizing for her absenteeism and telling me that she wasn’t sure she was ready for the next step. She acknowledged that there was no literal “next step,” but that
Your response will play a part if there’s any hope of reconciling.
there was for her. She said that it wasn’t my fault, but that she felt overwhelmed. Everything was fine the last time I saw her, but I think she’s been freaking out about work and her family.

Even if this is the case, I can’t believe she sent me an email. Ugh. And at work, no less! She still has my keys and I need to get them back for a visitor this week. How could she go from girlfriend to nada in such as short time? I wonder if she really meant it. I want to confront her, but what I should say and do? I’d be interested in fixing this if it is possible.
- Broke Up with Me Via Email

Dear Email,
Getting a “Dear John,” or in this case, a “Dear Mary” email is so disappointing. You deserved better than a “cop-out” email, especially since your relationship had progressed to the key exchange stage. Saying goodbye via email may be OK after a date or two, but not after you’re engaged in a relationship.

Not only was her method of communication lame, but also the whole “life stress” excuse gets old, doesn’t it? Before responding, consider one of the last lines of your letter, which was revealing and powerful. Are you sure you’d be interested in fixing this if it was up to you? The way I look at it, she’d have to work hard at getting back in your good graces before anything could be fixed.

Contact her, but try not to come across as overly dramatic, knee-jerk reactive or angry. Your response will play a part if there’s any hope of reconciling. One option would be to email her and say, “OK, you’ve broken some ice you clearly needed to break. But there’s more to say, think about and/or discuss, no? Sure you aren’t just stressed this week? My friends are coming and I need my spare set of keys back. Can you come over one night this week and give them back? We can talk then.”

She had her turn to express her feelings. Now it’s yours.
The thing is, even if she does confess that she’s having a bad week and has had second thoughts about breaking up, will you be able to trust her again? Sometimes they call it a breakup because it’s broken, possibly in ways you hadn’t considered.

No matter what she sent or how you respond, keep in mind that closure isn’t something that can be accomplished over email. You have more to say, and you may need a few days to collect your thoughts so that you really hit the emotional marks you need to hit when you meet her in person. After such an ambush, it’s important to take care of yourself emotionally.

When you are face to face, I hope you’ll tell her that sending a breakup email didn’t work for you. She had her turn to express her feelings. Now it’s yours. No matter the outcome of your conversation, I hope you say your piece. My guess is that, after you have your say, you will feel better, a little relieved and possibly enlightened. Most likely, you’ll hear that this breakup had nothing to do with your behavior or anything you did wrong. You might find out that her head is so screwed up about this and other relationships that she did you both a favor by ending it. No matter what the real breakup reason is, the cold hard fact is that she said she doesn’t want to be with you. She didn’t even give you the option of discussing it before she made the decision and pressed the “send” button. With a little perspective, you might see her as limited in terms of what she can offer you right now. And you deserve better.

Remember when you have your talk with her: If honesty kills your relationship, then it was dying of natural causes. If she says she made a mistake, and you decide that you’d consider reconciling, make sure she understands that your respect and trust must be earned. No matter what happens, go into the meeting with your head held high. Why in the world would you want to be with someone who doesn’t want to be with you? Right now, you can’t control whether this is a new beginning or the end, but you can treat yourself with respect.

Dave Singleton, an award-winning writer and columnist for since 2003, is the author of two books on dating and relationships. Visit Dave’s website and send your dating questions and comments to him at
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