May 18th 2012: Dear John letters
Break Up Form Letter
, by Elisabeth Sharp McKetta

Dear [insert name here],

Although I have greatly enjoyed these past few dates, I regret to inform you that I do not want to enter into a further relationship. The reason is several-fold:

For one thing, as you may or may not know, I have recently emerged from a romantic relationship of formidable intensity, and so natural sinusoidal laws dictate that I spend a significant period of time without a significant other. I do not know how long this time will last, so please do not wait; but if, when it ends, you are still interested, consider the ball in my court.

Reason two is as follows: we all know that perfect chemistry between two people can trump any simple matter of logic. However, my interest in you is waning somewhat because, although you are laden with many attractive and admirable qualities, you have not fully lived up to the percentages in my personal male pie chart (please see below for details.) Specifically, you fall 90% short in the Shrek quarter, which is unfortunate because I do like ogres, and you are 15% over the F. Scott Fitzgerald quota. This would be beneficial to you in other circumstances, but as my last relationship was with a Dick Diver-type, I am presently seeking slightly less tragedy and a great deal less gin.

Thirdly, an experienced panel of judges—namely my friends—have reviewed our time together and concluded that we are unable to offer you continued time with me. We review and reject many highly qualified applicants, as we have extremely strict eligibility criteria. In your case specifically, we determined that I could probably do quite a bit better. To spare you the pain, and me the time, must end here. I welcome you to apply again in the future, providing that you add to or quite significantly alter your qualifications.

I offer you my best wishes in your forthcoming romances. But I must not remain


[your name here]

Ideal man pie chart


Elisabeth Sharp McKetta has too many degrees and too few job prospects, but her credentials include having parented a hedgehog, a corgi, an actual human girl; running the Boston Marathon as a bandit; and having hurdled numerous break-ups without ever having to use a break-up form letter. Find more of her writing at

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