Yes, the Internet really does have everything. Including, if for some reason you should want to end things with your significant other but don’t actually want to do it face-to-face, or phone-to-phone, or even IM-to-IM — or on a freakin’ Post-it — a way to outsource that oft traumatizing experience. Because why do something unpleasant yourself when you can pay someone else to do it, right?
iDUMP4U is the brainchild of 35-year-old Bradley Laborman, a social media consultant in Iowa who will end your relationship for $10, bust up engagements for $25, and notify couples of impending divorces for $50. Since starting the site last September, he’s broken up some 150 unlucky-in-love twosomes, including several engagements (but no divorces, he is happy to report). He’s recorded a number of the cringeworthy calls and posted them on his website, you know, for posterity’s sake.
Given our interest in the plight of the single lady, we were curious — what kind of person wants to dump others for money, and what might this “hobby” say about Laborman’s own relationships, or lack thereof? We caught up with him to find out.
Hey Brad. How did you come up with the idea?
Last April, I wanted to do something different and was thinking of a way to make some money. I came up with this idea called “iBlog4U,” where I’d make a video of whatever someone wanted me to say, send them a private URL for it, and then they could send it to someone else to watch. But, it was stupid — I scrapped it. Then in September I decided to try again, so I checked into phone laws, and saw what you had to do to to record phone calls. I got on Twitter and asked if anyone wanted me to break up with their boyfriend or girlfriend. That’s how it started.
Take me through how this thing actually works.
After someone signs up for the service on the website, I’ll go to their Facebook page and verify the information, make sure this person’s really going out with that person. As soon as I know everything’s legit, I look over what they’ve written. If they didn’t give me enough stuff, I ask for more detail. I then outline the call, including the person’s name and reasons they’re getting broken up with. At the bottom I’ll maybe write up something clever to add.
There was this girl named Misty, and her boyfriend was breaking up with her because she was a squirter and it grossed him out. I thought that was funny because her name was Misty. So I brought it up during the call.
Ah. What’s the typical reaction you get from dumpees?
Sometimes people just accept it; sometimes they argue — maybe it’s a sad argue, or maybe it’s interesting…
How do you decide what to post?
It depends on the dumper as much as the dumpee — if a girl’s dumping a guy because of cheating, I might post that. I always record the calls unless it’s a state where I can’t record, but I don’t put every call on YouTube. I’m really not trying to be mean to anyone! If something is overtly mean, I’ll refuse to do it.
What to you would be overtly mean?
One girl’s story didn’t seem to make sense. She said she found a vibrator at her boyfriend’s house, and she wanted to out him on it, but it was obvious that she just knew the guy — he was some outcast at their school, and I think she just wanted to make fun of him. I didn’t want anything to do with them. I won’t break up high school kids — that would be like a million breakups a day. Another guy emails me that he’s in jail and his friends are going to pay for the breakup, but I’m like, how are you emailing me from jail? I also won’t do any “I’m serving in Iraq, I found out my girlfriend cheated on me” breakups…maybe they’re legit, but I’m not going to do them.
Seems like you might have a bit of disdain for the people who use your service.
People want to say I’m a jerk, and everybody’s entitled to their opinion. But I’ve been in relationships and they’ve ended badly usually because of some trait. If a girl says “I only attract assholes,” maybe there’s something she’s doing. If you change the common denominator, maybe the relationship pattern will change. Usually in a breakup the dumper is like, “It’s not you, it’s me,” and doesn’t want to point out the actual issues, but I don’t know the person, and if I set them off, I can just hang up. I think I’m doing a service.
Like a breakup whisperer?
Yeah, I’m educating people to help relationships.
But what about publicly humiliating people?
To be publicly humiliated would mean I’m giving out their personal info, and honestly, anything that would lead somebody to find them, I delete those details. They friend me on Facebook so I can get their information and as soon as I know everything, I unfriend them so that people can’t find them. Some people actually think they have a chance with someone who’s been dumped and try to find them…I’m protecting their identity.
Are you in a relationship?
After doing this for so long, I’ll tell the girls, I don’t really want to be in a relationship right now. If you’re going out with somebody, it’s inevitable that you might have to break up with them.
You sound a little scarred.
A lot of the things I had to deal with were girls who came damaged — you know, they’d say, this guy was a total jerk to me, and every time I would do something they’d say, My ex used to do that… I went out with a girl who had a scrapbook of all of her exes. Or there’s the girl who’s completely helpless and you’re paying for everything and you realize when the relationship ends that she’s never actually been helpless.
You can see patterns in dating. Cheaters, weird fetishes. I’ve gone out with girls who were just completely rude; they’ll put you down because they’ve been demeaned, or girls who’ve been told they’re fat and ugly and stupid and they’re not, and you can never make them believe that. My theory is, if you have photos of an ex, there’s a problem. If you go to a girl’s house and her ex is dead, then don’t even try…
That kinda sucks for people with dead exes! But seriously, you don’t think doing these breakup calls has affected you?
I’m just not interested in a relationship right now. I’m looking at moving out to New York in September, and it’s just one of these things… I think people think that I’m a horrible person, that I hate relationships, but almost every girl I’ve gone out with is still my friend. I’m Catholic, and a couple years ago for Lent I said I’m going to give up beating around the bush. It was the greatest Lent in my entire life. I would tell people exactly how i felt. If I liked a girl, I’d tell her. If more people are honest and straightforward, it would make the relationship world better. People have called me a cupid-slayer, but I’m trying to help relationships. Sometimes you just can’t fix them.
What’s your own worst breakup?
I was dating this girl my freshman year of college. We’d been dating about three months. I drove her to the airport for spring break; she going to visit her aunt. When she came back, I picked her up, and she informed me that she was actually visiting her fiance on his marine base. She no longer thought we should be going out. There was a blizzard that day, one of those weird April blizzards, so what should have been a two-hour ride took six hours. There were several times I wanted to stop the car and tell her to get out. It was a nasty, nasty breakup — she tried to make people choose sides, and she made up stories that I’d forced her to go out with me. She ended up getting committed to a mental institution later.
Yikes. What’s the weirdest breakup you’ve done?
I had to break up with this girl because her girlfriend found a pregnancy test in the trash. The girlfriend was like, Whoa, she’s supposed to be a lesbian. Turns out the girl was faking being a lesbian to try to get back at an ex boyfriend. It was so bizarre. She was so rude, and it was horrible because the girl who was doing the dump really ended up being the victim.
In terms of people who use the service, is it women? Men? Gay? Straight?
I think women use the service more than men, but it’s pretty close. I think it’s because men are programmed to fight amongst the species and peacock and do all this other stuff…You never hear of a female lion leaving the main lion; there’s this thing where a girl’s not supposed to leave a guy. I think men do have a harder time dealing with relationship breakup, they think they’re supposed to be in control, and when a girl breaks up with a guy, it throws off that canter. I get a lot of fake same-sex breakups. Maybe same sex couples are more mature and they don’t need me!
What’s the problem with love these days?
Technology. Cheating has always been there. Bad relationships have always been there. the problem is, society’s changed. Getting a divorce in the old days was horrible. People still did it, but they hid it. Technology changes and makes it easier for people to see cheating, and society has just changed. It’s okay for a couple to get divorced with two kids. It’s easier to get out of relationships. But I don’t think that’s a bad thing. It’s bad that it’s happening more often, but at least it’s giving people the choice. I’m not pro-breakup, but I like people to have the choice.
That’s exactly how I feel about abortion…
It’s the same thing! It’s just easier to talk about relationships.
Do you want the whole marriage and kids thing for yourself?
Yeah, I probably will get married and have kids. I could be in a relationship right now, but when it happens it happens. I tell girls, if you go out with me, you’re going out with someone who breaks up with people for a living. It seems there’s been more pressure on me to have a relationship since I end them!
What are you going to do next?
Well, the site has never been a real money-maker, but I’m now working with a company in New York on a project based on the website. Oh, and if somebody from the Today show reads this, I’d really like to be on the Today show.
Anything else we should know about you?
I’m really not anti-relationship! I take people out, there’s dinner…I’m honestly like, not an asshole. I’m just not going to act like somebody I’m not.