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Hurry! Delete your ex from your life by Valentine’s Day

For people recently flattened by a still-painful breakup, Valentine’s Day can be intolerable. But take heart: Empathetic souls are stepping up and helping people move on before Monday.
/ Source: TODAY contributor

For many, being alone during the rosy, heart-filled weeks leading up to Valentine’s Day — and on the gooey day itself — can be a downer. For people recently flattened by a still-painful breakup, this time of year can be intolerable.

Ellie Scarborough, 31, still remembers how terrible she felt after a life-changing breakup in February 2009. She got stuck, stalled, lost in her own thoughts. She had a hard time getting out of bed. “I was really expecting him to show back up fighting for me,” Scarborough recalled. “But he never showed up.”

If this bleak scenario sounds a tad too familiar as V-Day 2011 approaches, take heart: Scarborough and other empathetic souls are stepping up this year and offering specific ways for you to delete your ex from your life.

How so? Well, the possibilities include:

  • banishing your ex from every corner of your social-networking universe;
  • excising him or her from every piece of technology you own, including your phone;
  • uploading a photo of your ex to a website that lets you set the image on fire and watch it burn (digitally) before your eyes;
  • making plans to get together with friends on Feb. 14 so you can dance and scream your heads off to Pat Benatar and Journey songs;
  • signing up to receive inspirational and empowering texts before, and on, Valentine’s Day, and
  • venting your frustrations by wildly punching a performance artist dressed in a giant panda costume. (More on that in a minute.)

“There’s so much social pressure on people to be part of a couple on Feb. 14, and it’s ridiculous,” said Scarborough, whose website is actively striving to help the heartbroken this Valentine’s Day. “Our whole campaign is really centered on taking back the day and creating your own happiness and relishing the fact that you’re not part of the ritual. It’s better to be on your own than to be with someone in a bad relationship.”

Use technology to delete your ex
After enduring a painful experience — for instance, a particularly brutal breakup — it can be healthy to move forward without staying tethered to the past. This brings up one of the more chilling details of today’s technology: The past is always with you in the present.

Just as you’re trying to get on with your life, you’ll be accosted by Facebook updates, tweets and Foursquare check-ins that send you reeling again. And what’s with Facebook constantly recommending that you check out photos of your ex with his or her new love interest?

Here are steps you can take to make a clean(er) break:

  • Relationship advice site YourTango has taken the bold move of creating a brand-new holiday on Sunday, Feb. 13, the day before Valentine’s Day. It’s called “Break Up With Your Ex” day, and it’s all about unfriending your ex on Facebook, unfollowing your ex on Twitter, Foursquare and other sites, untagging or deleting photos of yourself and that person online and on your computer and phone, blocking or erasing the person on instant-messaging services, and deleting the person’s contact information from your phone and your e-mail program’s address book. For support as you tackle these tasks, visit
  • Maybe you’re not quite ready to take the socially awkward step of unfriending your ex. Or maybe you have to maintain your ability to lurk. (Say, if you have a child together.) A less-intrusive but still-effective step you can take to make your time on Facebook more bearable is to install the free Google Chrome extension Eternal Sunshine. This extension keeps people you designate from popping up in your Facebook news feed, profile updates, photo updates, suggested photo albums and Facebook Chat — all without having to unfriend or block them. To read more about Eternal Sunshine and how to make it work, click here.

Technology also can make you smile this Valentine’s Day:

Need to vent some frustration? Punch Me Panda will come to your home, hand you boxing gloves and let you pummel him.
Need to vent some frustration? Punch Me Panda will come to your home, hand you boxing gloves and let you pummel him.
  • The help-for-the-brokenhearted site, founded by Scarborough the year after her rough breakup, lets you upload photos of your ex and digitally set them on fire free of charge. You also can send your flaming handiwork along to your friends to let them know you’re moving on. To feel the burn, click here.
  •’s focus is on making women feel strong and optimistic while in the depths of a dark breakup. To that end, e-mail your cell phone number to in order to receive a special motivational text on Valentine’s Day. (Betty is the site’s mascot.) The deadline for signing up is noon Central time on Saturday, Feb. 12.

Other ways to feel better
If you live in or near Austin, Texas, where is based, you can attend the site’s “Love Bites” power-ballad sing-along on Valentine’s Day. Wear your hair big, hold your lighter in the air, sway and belt out some Pat Benatar (and plenty of other) tunes. And even if you don’t live in Texas, who says you can’t get together with some single friends on Feb. 14 and crank up “Love Is a Battlefield”?

Another local solution to the universally painful experience of saying goodbye is to invite a giant panda to come to your home and serve as your personal punching bag. This is something you can actually do if you live in Manhattan or Brooklyn. Punch Me Panda — the latest unforgettable character created by New York performance artist Nate Hill — is offering up his services on Saturday, Sunday and Monday (Valentine’s Day). Here’s how Hill, 33, describes those services on his website,

“I’m a panda. You can punch me. I wear a chest protector. You wear boxing gloves. It’s free. No parties and don’t send me as a surprise. ... It’s a safe place to punch someone.”

Amanda Tait Brower, a 24-year-old who works in book publishing in New York, gave Punch Me Panda a try, and she said she’d highly recommend him to anyone struggling with a difficult breakup.

“It would definitely be cathartic,” Brower said. “There’s a thrill to knowing you get to pummel someone without consequence, and that they know it, and encourage it. It’s completely unusual, and refreshing.”

To summon Punch Me Panda in the coming days, send a text message to (347) 742-2293.

Need a Coffey break? Friend writer Laura T. Coffey on , follow her on or check out her blog posts on