3 min

Breaking up made easy

Way too easy, as far as I'm concerned

LEFT ALONE. It doesn't take much these days. Credit: Mia Hansen

Having a boyfriend just got harder. Keeping one, that is.

Because in this, the real new millennium, age of enlightenment and O Magazine, the notion of standing by your man seems as dead as, well, Tammy Wynette.

I’ve learned a new rule being taught in the school of love: no matter how well you think things are going, you can still be dropped at any time.

Oh, you may have a six-pack, witty personality, bleached teeth and finely honed relationship skills. You may drape yourself in DKNY, drive the latest sporty penis-extender and have perfectly shaved balls, but hear me now: it won’t save you. These days we don’t wait to hate before we call it quits – the slightest provocation or temptation can make love limp.

I reached this realization after two relationships I know of met their untimely and bizarre demise both within the past three days. One had only just begun; the other was nearly two decades old.

The first case involved my friend Ken, who confided that after a few dates with Mr X, he was giving X the boot. I asked why.

“He smells,” Ken said.

I understood. “I’d rather crawl butt naked over Dr Laura than date a guy with BO,” I offered supportively, sister to sister.

“No, no, he’s hygienic and everything,” Ken told me. It’s his personal scent I can’t stand. You know, his skin. I don’t like the way his skin smells.”

You see? Love (or potential of it) gone! Just like that! Poor Mr X probably thought he had it going on, but welcome to New Love 101, where we’ve just learned skin can do you in. Now Mr X finds himself single suddenly, shockingly, over something he can’t even control. That’s the state we’re in these days.

Now before you declare Ken just shallow, or think his olfactory senses are in hyper-drive, read on about the second case.

After 17 years together, and assuming many more to come, Mr A was stunned this week by this announcement from his lover, Mr B: they were through.

This time it’s not the scent of a man to blame. Mr A and Mr B were done in by a 20-year-old hussy who lives with his parents somewhere in rural Ontario. This pimply-faced farm boy (he may have flawless skin, but I’m picturing pimples), who was all of three when Mr A and Mr B began their relationship, grew up, discovered chatrooms on the ‘net, hooked up with Mr B, began an on-line affair, met, began an off-line affair, and fell in love.

Fast-forward to this week when, in full gay mid-life crisis mode, Mr B dumps Mr A to be with the 20-year-old.

Call me over-the-top (many do), but when a cowpoke with a PC can infiltrate a partnership almost as old as he is, you can colour me concerned.

That’s why, always prepared, this Boy Scout is devising a relationship preservation strategy, adjustable as new threats to my love life loom. Suggestions are welcome. Tactics thus far include exfoliating my skin raw to remove all traces of male musk, and installing Net Nanny on the PC to prevent any other rural rugrats from an on-line seduction of My Man. Oh, and lots of head.

I also donned my Angela Landsbury wig to do a little investigating. I needed to know: are these two break-ups simply the sort of saga you hear because you have wacko friends like I do, or is the notion of hanging onto your man as hopeless as, say, Elton John singing with Eminem?

So on a glorious, sunny, spiritual-Viagra-of-a-Sunday, I took it upon myself to gather a gaggle of girls onto my back deck for a survey. I plied them with Coronas, and asked: Am I alone, or do any of you know of boys who thought all was well with their love lives, only to find out how wrong, wrong, wrong they were when they were suddenly shown the door?

It would seem panic is justified, if there’s any validity to my survey results. According to my research, Gary will break up with Chuck if Chuck grows one more hair on his back; Maury’s poodle, Penny, peed once too often on Peter’s Persian rug and they’re through. Tyler was dumped by Jim after seven years when Tyler failed to maintain the body he originally had when they met. (Jim, you see, like’s them beefy, and Tyler was all trim after taking up running, no longer fitting Jim’s wish list. Thin and healthy, yes, but broken-hearted because of it.)

I’m telling you. Don’t grow back hair, don’t get fit, don’t smell, stay off the ‘net and for God’s sake don’t let Penny pee, because apparently, these days, it’s all it takes to get a failing grade in Love 101.

I think it’s because these odd break-ups (with their accompanying even odder causes) are indeed popping up everywhere that I’m so ruffled.

Maybe relationships both long- and short-term have been as vulnerable as ever to things none of us can control, and it’s just me who never noticed.

Right now I just want the good old days back, the ones when you broke up for old-fashioned reasons like catching your sugarplum at the tubs.

Give me those simpler, quieter times. Fast.

Shaun Proulx is an actor and writer. He welcomes e-mail via his website,