Hire someone to break up with your lover?

Published 12:00 pm Friday, April 8, 2016

by danny tyree

I’m guessing my late father felt more empathy for me than he let on, back in 1981 when my girlfriend unceremoniously broke up with me.

Dad was stoic about the whole thing; but when I was going through some of his belongings long after his death 19 years later, I discovered that he himself had received a “Dear John” letter from his girlfriend while he was serving his country in the United States Army.

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Both of our letdowns were handled “Old School” style. But according to the CNN story “Breakup Service Does Lovers’ Dirty Work,” the paradigm has shifted.

A new Canadian business called Breakup Shop sells various package deals for getting rid of your significant other for you, utilizing phone calls, texts and (sometimes gross) visual aids.

The main selling point of Breakup Shop seems to be that it’s a tad less cruel than “ghosting” (denying a lover real closure by suddenly and completely ignoring them across all social media and hoping they take a hint). I can see this rationalization leading to a whole new cliché cop-out for lawbreakers. Yes, at the scene of 10-car pileups, liquor store heists and mass murders, the police will hear, “Why aren’t you out catching the REAL ghosters?”

The target age range for Breakup Shop and its handful (so far) of competitors is under 25, so of course there are recurring themes in the explanations for the breakups: “We no longer see eye-to-eye (although we never have, because of, you know, the omnipresent smartphones),” “You’re too clingy – when are you ever going to toss last year’s model of Bluetooth?” and “The feeling’s just not there anymore (although that may just be chronic numbness from playing with my tablet 24-7.”

Some observers welcome the arrival of services such as Breakup Shop, lamenting that breakup surrogates weren’t available earlier in history, like at the beginning of the Civil War. The Confederates could have saved all that bombarding-Fort-Sumter jazz and just sent the Union a telegram expressing, “Yaaaaaa-hooooo!”

Older folks fear that the tacky new way of ending a relationship destroys the learning process that comes from let-it-all-hang-out, face-to-face breakups. In “The Music Man,” Professor Harold Hill sang about “the sadder but wiser girl.” Our future may be filled with “eh, whatever” girls.

Even the old spare-their-feelings “Honest, it’s not you, it’s me” speech has changed for the worse in the era of impersonal breakups. (“Honest, it’s not you — it’s me, and the other breakup service reps, and the janitor and the board of directors—nah, how could all of us be wrong? You’re a loser!”)

I’m worried that breakup services will become an entitlement, wrapped up in the fight over civil rights and income inequality. Bernie Sanders will see to it that poor people don’t have to settle for the no-frills breakup package. (“A chicken in every pot and a chance to dump Jennifer Lawrence in every coffee shop!”)

What if the services become a crutch and mankind completely loses the ability to break up on its own? If there is some sort of disaster, the post-apocalyptic population will be flailing about, incapable of severing relationships that need severing. (“Yes, yes, I enjoyed your mud pies back in the day, and I still LIKE you like you, but can you just shut up and cash your Social Security check?”)

Danny Tyree welcomes email responses at tyreetyrades@aol.com and visits to his Facebook fan page “Tyree’s Tyrades.”