It is the age of digital technology after all and relationships exist in this context – and South Africans are in the thick of things when it comes to internet usage.

According to Hootsuite’s and We Are Social’s Digital 2019 Digital 2019: Global internet use accelerates, South Africans spend an average of eight hours and 25 minutes on the internet. This is close to two hours more than the global average. And our dear South Africa is in the top five highest growth countries of non-unique connections by more than eight million.

So what do these numbers have to do with dating? Well it means a lot of South Africans are online and it’s fair to say that a significant number of us find ourselves communicating with our partners online as well.

Couples therapist at Couples Help, Louis Venter says communicating has never been so easy. “Finding a partner has also become easier with platforms like Tinder. Communicating frequently has also made life easier. It is easier for couples to stay connected or to feel connected at all times,” he says.

But, does the popularity of the internet and social media usage, and the prevalence of breakups over text mean it could be more acceptable to breakup with a significant other over text?

Louis says while social media apps like WhatsApp have made the practicality around communication easier, sharing information all the time does not mean that couples are connecting intimately.

Regarding breakups over text he says, “I don’t think it is taboo because it is wrong per se but it is horrible to break up with another human being knowing the pain and hurt that could be experienced.

“I believe it should be something that should happen in all kindness and understanding because two hearts is involved.”

At the end of the day, we’re still human and rejection will still hurt, no matter the medium.

“Sometimes we think it will hurt less if it is done over social media but it is the opposite. When we go through a break up we need understanding, we sometimes need a dialogue or a process of consolation. That could only happen if two people meet each other face to face,” says Louis.

Breakups are painful and can affect so many parts of your life but they do happen, whether in person or over text. But because it not only affects feelings – it could impact health, work, families, financial and friendship circles – it is important that immense care be taken around the breakup.

Louis advises the following: “Don’t tell lies, stay with truth, take responsibility for what you contributed to the pain, make your needs known and step away fully. Break ups that linger hurts the most.”

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