What It’s Like To Break Up With Someone Over Zoom?

'I was 50/50 between saying “OK let’s stay together” and just hanging up on him.’

Woman on video call

by Georgia Aspinall |
Updated on

‘The longest seconds of my life were trying to find the end meeting button, we were just staring at each other awkwardly half-smiling while I fumbled with my phone’ Laura*, 28, tells me - quite hilariously - over a Zoom call. Laura has just split up with her boyfriend of six months, and she’s explaining just how weird it was to do from the confines of quarantine.

‘I probably wouldn’t of done it over Zoom if I’d had the choice, to be honest,’ she says. ‘But he insisted he wanted to see me after I texted him saying we should “talk”’. Laura has been isolating away from her boyfriend for three weeks now, and it was that decision to quarantine separately that confirmed the doubts she’d already had.

‘It was no question in my mind I couldn’t live with him for… God knows how long,’ she admits. ‘It got me thinking, how serious can I be about him if I’d rather isolate alone?’. Laura says that now, with the benefit hindsight, she knew it was over before lockdown and is happy she didn’t succumb to the pressure to quarantine together. She knows, for sure, they would’ve only broken up in isolation together. But breaking up over Zoom? That’s definitely not the easy way out.

‘I would normally do it in person, especially for someone I’ve been seeing this long,’ she says. ‘Doing it this way kind of put a layer of space between us that made it easier to just say what I thought, but it was when things got emotional I felt really awkward. Like, normally you can hug someone or comfort them or just explain. I just didn’t really know what to do or say while he sat there crying… I was 50/50 between saying “OK let’s stay together” and just hanging up on him.’

I’m sat there stony-faced and his flatmate just looked from me to him and backed out the room

Laura didn’t hang up, but she did have to sit and watch while her now ex’s flatmate came into his room to see what was wrong. Yes, really. ‘It was the most awkward moment of my life,’ she says. ‘He’s crying, I’m sat there stony-faced and his flatmate just looked from me to him and backed out the room…it was like a comedy sketch.’

Now though, Laura’s got the perfect excuse not to meet up and hash out any of the details. So, while quarantine made for an uncomfortable break-up, it’s certainly made the aftermath easier. Same goes for Rebecca, 28, who broke up with her boyfriend of four years after finding out he had an online dating profile days before lockdown.

‘We broke up over the phone after I had sent him the screenshot of his profile,’ she says. ‘This all happened just as the government were introducing the restrictions and we had only just begun the process of searching for a flat together, so luckily were living apart at the time.

‘I asked him to drop off my belongings from his flat, which he left on my doorstep without letting me know until after he had done so,’ she continued. ‘That really upset me, it would've been nice to have some sort of closure in person, even if at a two-metre distance.’

And while the need to break-up came as a shock, Rebecca says quarantine has helped her from making the same mistake twice. ‘It’s certainly restricted any chances for reconciliation,’ she says. ‘I'm using this time as a sort of “relationship rehab”, to reflect on what went wrong and focus on me for a little while. I'm just glad we hadn't found a flat and moved in together, as that would have certainly made things a lot more complicated.’

Kate*, 25, wasn’t so lucky. She split up with her boyfriend of three years two weeks ago – and they’ve stayed in isolation together ever since. ‘We didn’t really have a choice to leave because both our parents are vulnerable and obviously public transport was a no-go,’ she says. ‘To be honest, it hasn’t been as bad as I expected but I think that’s just because we can’t have other people round or go out so there’s no jealousy or questioning what the other persons doing.’

They are arguing though – a lot. ‘We broke up in kind of a blazing row over nothing, but it led to a lot of other things coming out that I’d wanted to say for a while,’ she says. ‘He’s definitely got some resentment there because I’m the one that ended it and I think he was expecting this situation to make me change my mind. But to be honest, even if this has spurred the break-up along, I feel like it was coming anyway…we weren’t happy.’

It’s made for a particularly uncomfortable lockdown experience, for sure. But Kate says she’d still rather be quarantined with her ex than alone, as she would’ve been if they’d broke up sooner. ‘When he’s not being pissy with me it’s actually nice just to have someone to chat to, we’ve lived together for two years now so we do it quite well.’

So, could this quarantine break-up cement a friendship instead? ‘I wouldn’t go that far,’ Kate laughs. ‘As soon as lockdown ends I’ll be out of here like a flash.’

*Names have been changed

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