Love & Money is a MarketWatch series looking at how our relationship with money impacts our relationships with significant others, friends and family.
Breaking up is that hard to do—and a new company wants to help you soften the blow.
Onward is a new on-demand service that helps people pack, find housing, move out and move on when a relationship enters Splitsville.
Starting at $99, the New York City-based service offers a 10-day plan for short and long-term housing—such as a hotel, Airbnb, new apartment or co-living space—along with options and discounts for storage, moving services, packing and access to events to help singles beef up their social calendars. A 30-day, $175 package helps newly single folks furnish their new home, have someone assist with address and utility changes, and get discounts on moving company rates.
If you really can’t be bothered with logistics, $500 will get you squared away with finding new housing, assembled furniture in your new pad, a customized new neighborhood guide with recommendations for restaurants, bars, gyms and health studios and access to self-care options such as therapy or lawyers if needed for a three-month period.
New York-based Onward co-founders and childhood friends Lindsay Meck, 34, and Mika Leonard, 33, say they started the company after both suffered breakups of their own six months apart.
“We both had to move out and restart our lives. I was seeing a lot of the similarities between the emotional and logistical turmoil of it all,” Meck told MarketWatch. “It was really challenging and, typically, after a breakup you have to get going quite fast.”
The company soft-launched on Valentine’s Day in New York City and, the founders say, has since received almost 100 inquiries. The demographics are an even split of men and women, aged 25 to 40, the company said. They plan to roll out in other cities like Los Angeles, San Francisco, Chicago and D.C. in the coming year.
It’s the latest in a slew of new apps and services hoping to capitalize on time-poor and cash-rich people who yearn to take the awkwardness out of life. Instead of actually meeting people organically, for example, the app Meetup allows users to attend events based on their interests—from outdoor exploration to music and technology—so people can connect with other members and essentially meet friends on-demand.
Instead of having to ask a friend to pay you back for that coffee or lunch they owe you, mobile payment apps like Venmo eliminate the in-person conversation and cut right to the chase with a notification instead. In 2017, startup called Juicero offered pre-sold packets of chopped up fruits and vegetables to users willing to fork over $400 for the machines to do the dicing for them. People soon discovered they could squeeze the packets just as easily by hand.
There does, however, appear to be a market to help couples who are splitting up. A number of studies show that couples who co-habitate before marriage have a greater risk of splitting up, considering a little more than 50% of cohabiting couples ever get married.
Experts say having a service like this could help—as long as you’re not using it to avoid conflict or numb the pain or awkwardness related with severing ties with a partner. Having difficult conversations with your partner is healthy, they say, and processing how you feel is good.
“Be considerate of the importance of navigating how you end the relationship,” said Dr. Shaun Wehle, a clinical psychologist based in Indiana. “It’s a hard thing to deal with goodbyes. There’s richness in having the complex conversation.”
In other words, don’t just ghost your ex by moving out when he or she is not there. And don’t end the relationship, if at all possible, with a big fight either. “It could go both ways,” Wehle said. “You could be using it as a helpful service, but some benefits are going to be lost if you don’t have the challenging conversation of goodbye.”
That said, Wehle said the service could be especially vital for those who experienced a turbulent relationship and don’t want to look back.
A number of break-up themed businesses have opened in recent months trying to bank on heartbreak. An appropriately named BreakUp Bar in Hollywood, Calif. opened as a pop-up venue in time for Valentine’s Day this year giving singles a watering hole to flock to and not have to be surrounded by lovers.
But some of these services don’t come cheap: For a starting rate of $1,200, there’s a luxe Renew Breakup Bootcamp, which holds three-day retreats in upstate New York near Woodstock and in Malibu, Calif, bringing together intimate groups of up to 20 women. Attendees discuss feelings, stages of mourning and detaching with psychologists; practice yoga and meditation; learn about behavioral nutrition; and complete tasks like keeping a gratitude journal.
Not everyone believes it’s appropriate to use an app to help speed the plow with a breakup. Paying to make your life easier to cut ties with a partner is a cop-out, says Chicago-based relationship coach Bela Gandhi. “You need to develop the strength to get through these kinds of traumatic experiences. Life is unfortunately filled with various traumas. It’s part of being human.”
It’s good practice to face up to difficult situations rather than avoid them, she adds.
“We have to develop that strong emotional core,” Gandhi said. “You’re going to have to get up, and get out of your house and put one foot in front of the other and live life again. The only thing that will help ultimately is time. You need to understand what happened, and how do you not get into a situation like this all over again. Invest your funds in personal growth.”