As the old song goes, "Last Christmas I gave you my heart/and the very next day you hired a company to text me a breakup message." Or something like that, anyway.
This holiday season and beyond, wannabe singles can avoid confrontation completely and hire The Breakup Shop to do their dirty work for them. The site offers a veritable smorgasbord of passive-aggressive relationship dissolution options and prices, from a breakup Snapchat ($5) to a live phone call ($29) to a floral bouquet to accompany your breakup text ($48). So, your boyfriend might have dumped you, but at least your apartment will smell like good times!
Cowardly as it might seem, the service was born out of desire to end the common phenomenon of "ghosting," which is when one half of a couple stops returning calls, texts or emails until the other half finally gets the hint.
"My brother and I were talking about how he had been ghosted in a previous relationship," says Evan (last name withheld by his request for privacy), co-founder of The Breakup Shop, in an email interview. "We were talking about how there are all these apps that help people get into relationships so fast; why isn't there one that helps you get out of relationships? We decided to make a service that allows you to do that."
The way it works is, you visit the company's website and add the desired method of breakup to your "shopping cart." Then, you enter your credit card information. A few hours later, the company contacts you via email to get all the details about the breakup and recipient for customization purposes.
So far, business is off to a good start, with more than 50 relationships ended since the site launched earlier this month, according to Evan. He and his co-founder brother Mackenzie currently do all the breakup phone calls themselves. "The calls are hard. Sometimes they [the recipients] think it's a joke or a prank, but then there are those with a lot of emotion. We have to remind ourselves that if it's this hard for us, imagine how hard it would have been for our customer."
There was one memorable breakup for a woman in Mexico City. "They had us send an email with a rude hand gesture and then also call the person to break up with her. She was pretty upset but I think they had both done something to wrong the other."
Some experts think that receiving such a text, call or letter might actually be kinder in the long run. “They are at least being told that things are over, versus radio silence," says psychologist Nikki Martinez via email. So instead of wasting time wondering about the status of the relationship, they can deal with the rejection and get on with their lives. "This may enable the person to move straight to the stage of anger, versus doubt and denial [or] wondering what they did wrong. If they can skip past those stages, they can heal and move forward more quickly."
Plus if that's the method your boyfriend or girlfriend uses to end the relationship, perhaps you really did dodge the proverbial bullet. "[The Breakup Shop] may at some level be better than 'ghosting,'" emails clinical psychologist Bart Rossi, "but both approaches are indications of a serious personality flaw and traits that are not what someone wants in a partner. Not having the nerve/courage to stand up and be expressive is a sign that there would have been many problems in the future."
The Breakup Shop's business may only get better over the coming months. "I think the holidays are a very testing time for relationships," explains Evan, referencing the common high-pressure seasonal relationship commitments that often take a toll on new couples, like family gatherings, traveling and meeting the parents. "I think it is a time where relationships are tested on their seriousness and [with] our clients being mostly in newer, not as serious relationships, we may see a spike in business."