By Joe Rector

My car radio is tuned to the ’60s and ’70s channels. The morning drive-time show features the songs I love best, although most music from those years sparks a memory of some kind. The last couple of mornings, the tunes have reminded me of some of the hardest times that teens experienced. Breaking up with a girlfriend or boyfriend was no fun.

I’m an authority on being dumped. It happened on a consistent basis in high school and the first years of college. Only when I quit dating did the dumping cease. Then I found Amy, or maybe she found me, and she gave me even more love than I deserved.

Being dumped used to follow a standard set of actions. First came arguments. (Since I’ve never been a female, this piece is from a male point of view.) The spats began over anything the boy does or said.

When the boy called his sweetheart, she didn’t answer. At other times, the busy signal echoed across the airwaves. When he questioned her about the phone the next day, she declared that her mom left the phone off the hook. His suspicions were alerted, but he accepted the lie.

Between classes, she ignored her boyfriend as she chatted up some other guy. During another break, he found her in a huddle with friends in the locker bay. Before long, this teen wondered why his girl was ignoring him. She denied any accusations and turned a cold shoulder to him.

After a few weeks of fights, cold shoulders, no phone calls, and less affection, the big talk came. The couple went out on a date, but neither was at ease. The car rolled to a stop on a dark road located in a half-finished subdivision. The male asked what was wrong with the girl, and she answered “Nothing.” He then asked why she was acting differently, but she sat in silence. The anger boiled below the surface as his girlfriend stared through the windshield at nothing. Then she turned to look at him and, for a second, pitied him. She told him that their relationship was crumbling and that they both needed to see other people. Tears flowed, begging began, and in the end, she removed his class ring from the chain around her neck and handed it to him. She whimpered to go home, and when they arrived, the former girlfriend sealed the break-up by saying, “We can still be friends. I really care about you.” It was brutal, and the next few months were torturous for the broken-hearted boy.

I’m not sure about young couples these days and how they manage to end relationships. Both individuals are so involved with cell phones and video games and social media that they don’t seem to have time for each other. How do they even know if they are a couple? Do they talk or text each other? If they do communicate, about what do they talk? When they break up, do they do it in person or through zoom or facetime?

I might be out of the loop. So much in life is different from when I was a teen. If a girl tried to break my heart now, I might not understand that the girl dumped me. Wouldn’t that be a mess? I like the old ways of being cut loose. The girls in my life always made it abundantly clear that I’d been kicked to the curb. At least they did It face-to-face. Even some of the bad things from the old days are better than the new ones.