Sep 262006
Authors: Hilary Davis

Breaking down, breaking up and how to do neither successfully

In an age of Internet dating, speed dating, blind dates and phone dates, it’s hard to find that spark, that rare connection between two people that could lead to something meaningful, something more.

So when the spark dies, the connection fades and “something more” has turned into “something awkward,” who’s responsible for tallying the final damage? It’s easiest just to let things drift away.

In the age of high-speed connection, what about the human connection? These days, when everything breaks down, how does anybody actually break up?

They don’t. Romance is dead, and so is the fine art of the face-to-face break-up. I’m sorry to have to tell you this, but it’s true. In this technological age, where everything happens immediately and then is immediately broadcast to everyone else via blogs, text messages and Facebook, there is no such thing as a private, intimate coffee date where two people lay it all out on the line.

Instead, it goes online, for the whole world to see. And who wants to experience that kind of pain? I’ve never done it, but I certainly wouldn’t want to change my Facebook status and see that sad, broken heart next to my name for three days. Or have to write the blog entry in which I include every little detail about where it all went wrong.

So, CSU, instead of breaking up, which we all know isn’t worth it anyway, for only $9.95 plus shipping and handling, I offer you a compelling alternative: The Phase Out (TPO). Easy, pain free and they’ll hardly even know it’s happening.

Step 1: Start slowly screening their phone calls. Not all the time, but every once in awhile. You can call them back later, but it’s important to break them of the habit of calling you on the phone and actually thinking you’ll answer. This might seem heartless, but it’s crucial for later, so hold strong.

Step 2: Become very busy. Whether you’re actually busy or not is a question of ethics you must contend with, but if you just happen to have a lot of meetings/group projects/Thursdays at Sullivan’s, all of which you simply have to attend, who can blame you?

Step 3: Start completely screening their calls. By this time, you shouldn’t feel any moral compunction about hitting “silent” on your cell, and your not-so-significant other is still mostly unaware that they’re getting TPO. Again, after this step, you can still call them back. But only when you know they won’t answer. And really, you should only be calling them to explain just how busy you are.

Step 4: This is a hard one, but it must be done if you’re going to successfully complete the program. You have to stop putting dates into your Palm Pilot, start untagging pictures of you together on Facebook and start uneasily revealing to your friends that you two might be on the rocks. By this point, your soon-to-be ex is starting to get the hint, but won’t actually say anything because that would make it awkward, and TPO is anything but awkward, which is part of its beauty and genius, if I do say so myself.

Step 5: The final step. You’re going to have to suck it up and talk to them one last time, and what you’re going to tell them is, repeat after me, “I lost my cell phone” or any other variant of this phrase (flushed it down the toilet, lost the charger, dropped it – you know). Be non-committal about when you’ll be seeing them again, don’t reply if they message you on Facebook (you can always say you flushed your computer down the toilet, too) and move on. After a few more days, they’ll get the hint, and you’ll be getting some action at Sullivan’s tomorrow night.

So there you have it. The fool-proof way to break up with someone, without breaking up with someone. See how technology is making our lives better each day? Well, except for the person who got TPO. They’re probably just a little POed.

Hilary Davis is a senior technical journalism major. Her column appears Wednesdays in the Collegian. Replies and feedback can be sent to

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