U r dmpd! Why breaking up by text is all the rage
Cheryl Cole is just the latest celeb to ditch her errant hubby by SMS, writes Darragh McManus
Who would have thought it: Cheryl Cole is capable of irony. Just a few months after squawking "We gotta fight, fight, fight, fight, fight for this love" on her Number 1 debut solo single, the X-Factor glamour-puss has reportedly decided to ignore her own advice and end her marriage.
What's interesting is not the "what" of the story -- a headline reading "Celebrity romance fails" is never going to shock anyone other than the most naive -- but the "how". According to reports, Cheryl ditched her wayward hubbie Ashley by text message: "Move out. It's over." (With more irony, her patience finally snapped after revelations he had sent racy texts to several other women.)
This is probably the most high-profile relationship to allegedly end by SMS, but it's certainly not the first. A new survey of 20,000 people by social networking site MocoSpace found that over a quarter had terminated their romance by text.
The term "text break-up" has made it to Urban Dictionary, that weathervane of social trends. One poor woman in Malaysia was even given this awfully impersonal brush-off on her wedding day. Cue the band playing "I B Cryng N D Chapel L L."
Cartoon-punk rocker Adam Levine broke up with cartoon-body starlet Jessica Simpson by texting "Really Busy. Need Space". (Rumours that the famously airheaded Jessica initially thought Adam was just clearing the attic of junk are almost certainly untrue.)
Britney Spears gave K-Fed his P45 by SMS, while rocker John Mayer reportedly sent Jennifer Aniston the text to end all texts after a 20-minute row on the phone.
According to UK etiquette gurus Debrett's, breaking up with someone by sending an ill-spelled few words over a satellite connection is "too heartless".
Whether impolite or not, text-ditching now seems to be an established dating convention. Jennifer Stevens is editor of U, Ireland's biggest selling women's magazine. She maintains: "It might not seem the kindest, but dumping by text is up there with Tweeting the end of your love and altering your Facebook status as the new way to finish a dalliance. In Cheryl's case, it was probably the easiest, too -- after all, she was out on a date in LA so probably didn't have the time for a full-on chat about the future."
But does this really mark the end of the affair? Is it just too easy for someone to key in some choice words and press the 'Send' button on their mobile?
John Noble is co-founder of Dublin-based Genesis Club, which organises fun, unusual events for singletons, including Murder Mystery and Back to School bashes, and has over 2,000 names in its database. According to John's experience, a reckless SMS is more likely if your DNA has more Y than X.
He says: "Guys react much more quickly than women when it comes to expressing their feelings by text, and tend not to think of the consequence, meaning many do regret sending such messages.
"For women, it's the opposite: they carefully assess the situation, and after lots of thought and consideration, which may include getting advice from a friend, will text only when they truly do not want to be involved with that guy again."
Broadcaster Orla Barry, who presents lifestyle show Weekend Blend on Newstalk on Saturday mornings, also reckons that a text suggests you're not 100pc serious about ending.
"If you are genuine about ending the relationship, I wouldn't do it by sending a few words over the phone," she says. "And we can send all sorts of daft things by text, depending on our state of mind at the time -- i.e. alcohol consumption -- and then think, 'Noooo, why did I do that!'
"It's a bit stupid to dump someone by text anyway, because that will get their back up even more."
Jennifer Stevens isn't so sure, pointing out that social mores have changed considerably with the rise of new communications technology: "There's a whole sub-set of people who are now so addicted to their iPhones and Blackberrys that their relationships are conducted without ever meeting face-to-face -- the closest they ever get is 'sexting'."
So, is it really the end, then, for the enduring soap opera that is 'Cheryl + Ashley 4Eva'?
Have we reached the final curtain, or is this just the latest in a long sequence of not-at-all-orchestrated-by-PR-people break-ups and reconciliations?
Jennifer Stevens reckons that, this time, it's for real. "I'm pretty sure that all of Cheryl's handlers are recommending a final split -- once bitten, et cetera," she says.
Orla Barry agrees it's the last station for the Coles, saying: "If I was Cheryl and my husband had been exchanging naked pictures with other women, the gloves would be off. Dump him by text, dump him through a friend, dump him on television: just kick him out."