Rise of the digital 'breakover': How new technology can help the broken-hearted to forget and move on
You thought you found your one true love online, but now you've been dumped by text or defriended on Facebook without a peep of explanation. Hours of bad TV in your bathrobe haven't helped. Your friends are tired of your whining.
Forget a pampering makeover to help heal your broken heart this Valentine's Day. Go for a 'digital breakover' instead, using a growing number of tech tools to save you from yourself or to sob on a safe shoulder in the ether.
Online dating sites and apps for hooking up on the go are abundant. Only one of the Apple app store's recent top 12 downloads for the iPhone was about something other than romantic love, but breakup tech hasn't kept pace.
Just move on: There are plenty of sites for finding live and now technology that promises to heal a broken heart is taking off
Melissa McGlone, 46, from Alexandria, Virginia, turned to The Ex-App after a three-year relationship ended recently with an unceremonious text. After a weak moment or three of electronically stalking her dumper, she used the text, call and email blocker to hold his digits at bay until she could resist temptation on her own.
'I no longer humiliate myself by trying to contact him,' said Ms McGlone, a divorced mother who was 18 years out of the dating scene when the two first met.
The free app took off last March with about 3,000 downloads in the first nine months. Unlike other blocking tools, The Ex-App also tracks the number of consecutive days spent not trying to ferret out a former love.
In New York, 28-year-old Amanda Green relied on the well-established Dear Old Love Tumblr blog after she was dumped on Independence Day 2009 a year into a relationship. The site for the lovelorn describes itself as an anonymous safe haven for 'short notes to people we've loved (or at least liked). Requited or unrequited.' A selection of notes from the site was later turned into a book.
'It's a refuge for those of us who know our friends are getting tired of listening to us, or those of us who don't have a confidante at all,' said Ms Green, who posted there regularly for a few months. 'It's also a reminder of how universal these feelings are.'
For Ms Green, it was a place to let go. Hard.
Split up and log on: WotWentWrong.com is one of the new breed of break-up sites. In this case, couples are encouraged to find out how a relationship ended
'When I went to your apartment to get my things, I dipped your toothbrush in the toilet. I wasn't gonna kiss you ever again anyway,' she poured out in one of the messages she left there.
'It's a, perhaps unfortunately, true story,' Ms Green said, 'but I'm in a much better place now. I think I deal with this stuff better now. I'd like to think Dear Old Love has something to do with that.'
There's also CheaterVille.com, a site full of alleged cheaters complete with mugshot-like photos and sometimes lengthy explanations of love deceptions. While the culprits are identified by name and town, the posters are anonymous.
And NeverLikedItAnyway.com, where dumpees sell off their engagement rings, wedding gowns and other gifts from exes. A recent bargain of the week featured an anonymous teacher's lynx fur jacket with a real-world price of $12,000 but a breakup asking price of $7,995. Transactions are private via direct message through the site.
The latest entrant is WotWentWrong, brand new for dumpees in search of feedback from their formers after a first date failed to produce a follow-up call or budding love died on the vine without explanation.
'When I went to your apartment to get my
things, I dipped your toothbrush in the toilet. I wasn't gonna kiss you
ever again anyway'
Registered users fill out detailed questionnaires covering what information they're after (was it my hair, the way I dressed) and can customise a template letter to be sent through the site to an ex. The ex can respond with as much detail as he or she desires through the site, without contacting the sender directly.
'Many new relationships end without an actual ending, be it in person or via technology,' said the site owner, Audrey Melnik, who came up with the idea after a first date she thought went well vanished without a word.
'There are times when you can be left wondering why things ended if you didn't ask at the moment that you broke up. We provide a way to give closure,' she said.
The site received 28,000 unique visitors less than two weeks after it was launched Jan. 24, Ms Melnik said.
Melnik and Andrea Miller, who runs the dating portal YourTango.com, are certainly tech savvy, but they're both old fashioned when it comes to breaking up.
'It's totally inappropriate to break up digitally,' Miller said. 'You should have a conversation.'
Ms Miller has declared February 13 'break up with your ex day' for the second year, offering a range of 'breakover' tips and advice on her site.
She asked 1,300 of her readers for the biggest issues after a breakup and 71 per cent said they think about their exes too much, while 57 per cent not currently in a relationship said thinking about their formers prevents them from finding new love.
Of those who are married, 36 per cent said their attachment to an ex interferes with their current relationship.
'People are connected to their exes in a profound way and many used technology to find love in the first place,' Ms Miller said, 'yet there's this paucity of technology to help you after a breakup. We're saying get on with it, in our digital lives as well as ours hearts.'