Breaking up, with a little help from the Web
Sunday, January 9, 2011
The Internet has plenty of tools to help people looking to start a romance - Match.com's ads assert that one in five new relationships begins on an online dating site - but what about those trying to end one?
In recent years, a handful of new sites and services have emerged to salve the wounds of the newly single - advising them on recovery strategies, offering a space to vent, a way to laugh and a marketplace to hawk the wares of bygone boyfriends.
"I looked on the Internet, got a couple books. But nothing was really helping me move on," Ellie Scarborough said of a particularly tough breakup two years ago. After months of moping, the former television reporter sent herself flowers at work. They arrived, along with an idea to start a Web site devoted to helping women recover from breakups.
That site, Pink Kisses, offers a variety of services including an "action plan" that, for $10 a month, delivers daily e-mails with advice about how to move on. (De-friend him on Facebook; take up a hobby.) Clients can also sign up to receive uplifting text messages and purchase sessions with a stylist or life coach. The particularly bereaved can upload a picture of their former love and watch it burn on screen. (That one's free.)
Anyone who needs to get some things off their chest or find solace in the struggles of others can log on to I Hate My Ex or You Broke Up How?, sites that let users anonymously rail against the romantic wrongs they've suffered. (You won't believe what Mike said about Tiffany.)
Advice sites range from the morose to the comical. Some, such as Brokenheartedgirl.com, target women while others, such as LovesAGame, are geared toward men. Moise Toussaint, a 26-year-old student in Miami, started Breakup Kings after he and several friends got out of relationships. The site aggregates breakup-related stories and videos from across the Internet. Some of it is meant to be practical, but much of the material he collects, like a YouTube video of a relationship-ending strategy gone wrong, is funny. "A lot of people break up and don't know how to cope with it," he said. "They just need a little humor."
The need for comic relief was, in part, the inspiration behind "Break-ups: The Series," a collection of short films depicting breakup scenes created by Ted Tremper, a member of Chicago's famed Second City comedy ensemble. He recruited his friends from the improv community, had them pick a setting and a scene partner and started rolling. What resulted - without any written dialogue - is a Web anthology of searing close-ups between two people who are through with each other.
"I hoped to give the actors a chance to explore the horrible, gut-wrenching and hilarious aspects of this terrible process we all have to suffer through so many times in our lives," he said. "It's torture, but it's also extremely amusing."
Megahn Perry had finally found some humor in her divorce when she got the idea for her Web site, Exboyfriend Jewelry. She'd been laughing with her stepmother, Marie Perry, about the quandary of what to do with her old wedding rings. "Do I pawn them?" she wondered. "That really seems disrespectful and terrible."
The question led the two women to set up a site where others could sell jewels given to them by former lovers. Each day a handful of new baubles pop up on the site, each with a price tag and a story - the diamond butterfly pendant that was given "just because," just before a split; the promise ring delivered after a month of dating and only a short time before the promise was broken.
Perry said she has come to think that "one in every 10 relationships ends in heart-shaped jewelry."
And if you're in the market for some, she knows a place on the Internet where you can get a good deal.