Relationships can and do start on social media – hence the existence of terms like ‘sliding in the DMs’ – and can also sometimes end on social media.

The latter has be seen as taboo ever since texting became texting, yet a study shows that young people are leaving their partners over text more than generations before them.

Bustle reported that of the 500 people surveyed, 69 percent of millennials said they had been broken up over text before.

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.

READ MORE: The right way to take things slow in a new relationship

Couples therapist at Couples Help, Louis Venter says communicating has never been “so easy”. He says, “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.”

But, does the popularity of 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?

READ MORE: Australian woman dubbed ‘toxic’ and ‘vile’ for list of dating demands

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 in intimacy.

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.

READ MORE: "My girlfriend prioritises her friends over our relationship – how can we solve this?"

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 affect feelings – it could impact health, work, families, financial and friendship circles – it is important that immense care 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.”

Sign up to W24’s newsletters so you don't miss out on any of our hot stories and giveaways.