The 5 Stages of Deleting Someone from Your Phone/Life

Because phone is life, essentially.

A repeating pattern of the phrase "1-800-GOODBYE"
(Image credit: Design by Betsy Farrell)

People come and go from our lives for any number of reasons—reasons that usually have more to do with their own shortcomings than ours, surely—but the main thoroughfare is almost always The Mobile Phone. Here, we explore the gradual degradation of a relationship from a technological standpoint. But ask yourself: Can one really ever make a clean break anymore? Because like the North, iMessage remembers.

Stage I: The Risky Text

Maybe you're fed up with a "friend's" alarming lack of self-awareness, so characteristic of this generation. (I can say this because I was born in the '90s.) Maybe it's a relentless Tinder dude. Maybe you're just a trash bag. I don't know you! But in any case, you've decided to send an ultimatum, which is meant to be cutting and decisive...

Stage II: The Send-and-Delete

And it is cold—cold as Sartre talking about Sartre writing a novel. Except right after you hit the arrow thingy—after it changes from green (mortifying) to blue—you immediately delete the entire thread as if that could erase all evidence of what transpired before. Right. (Repeat until the shame overwhelms you.)

Stage III: The Contact Name Change

See also: "Bad Idea," "Don't Even Think About It," and "Not on Your Life." A poor excuse for a deterrent, this.

Stage: IV: The Blockage

You revert to Stage II as often as necessary for you to confirm that this person is truly garbage. Then you almost do what you ought to have done in the first place, which is delete the number, but there's still a microscopic twinkle of hope there or you're not ready to let go, so you just block it instead, knowing that it would be so easy to get everything back because Apple has such a laissez-faire attitude toward its customers' privacy that blocked numbers can just show up on your desktop at any moment! #ithappenedtome

Stage V: The Last Straw

One tequila, two tequila, three tequila, DELETE. Doesn't it feel good? If yes, wheee! If no, have another—and know that, in this digital age, anything can be retrieved if you want it badly enough. Anything.

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Chelsea Peng
Assistant Editor

Chelsea Peng is a writer and editor who was formerly the assistant editor at She's also worked for The Strategist and Refinery29, and is a graduate of Northwestern University. On her tombstone, she would like a GIF of herself that's better than the one that already exists on the Internet and a free fro-yo machine. Besides frozen dairy products, she's into pirates, carbs, Balzac, and snacking so hard she has to go lie down.