Cupid’s Covenant

Originally appeared in the February 2000 issue of the ABA Journal.

Harmless Error - A Truly Minority View on the Law

Cupid’s Covenant


With Valentine’s Day looming, it’s a good time to get some legal perspective on the whole relationship thing, especially the breaking up part. We need to face the fact that despite our hopelessly unrealistic expectations, most relationships don’t last.

Breaking up has serious consequences for both parties which need to be considered in advance, while equal bargaining power still exists. Never enter into a relationship unless BOTH parties have executed the…

Relationship Termination Agreement

The undersigned prospective lovebirds, being of sound mind but probably not for long, enter into the following agreement to govern their respective rights and responsibilities in the event of a partnership dissolution:

1. I agree not to go around blabbing the embarrassing secrets and quirks you confessed to me in strict confidence on the silly assumption that I wasn’t going to some day hate your guts. Breach of this paragraph shall constitute tortious interference with prospective advantageous relationships.

2. Within 10 days of the contract termination, I covenant to place 25 melodramatic phone calls to you, at least half of which shall occur late at night while I am intoxicated. Just to remind you that I still have strong feelings for you, at least five of these calls shall qualify as “harassment” under applicable law.

3. I shall retain any and all cards, gifts and other items of endearment supplied during the contract term for one full calendar year, at which time I may dissolve them in sulphuric acid. I shall re-read all cards on at least five occasions, and hereby bind myself to feel nostalgic, wistful and wonder whether we made a mistake on each such occasion.

4. When asked why the contract was terminated, I shall falsely represent: “It was a mutual decision. We’re still good friends.”

5. Upon breakup, you shall return all items of personal property belonging to me, with immediate attention to any videotapes made during the course of said contract.

6. It is understood that the next person I date shall be less attractive than you and that this provision shall be strictly construed against the datee. I agree not to date your best friends, even though I think a couple of them are really hot.

7. Friends shall be split as follows: (fill in blanks) ________ is my friend. Do not even attempt to speak to him/her, as he/she is subject to an express condition subsequent to curse you loudly in the event of a contract breach. ________ can be your friend, since I’ve always found him/her affected and annoying. Everyone else is my friend (choose one or more depending on property settlement) on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays, alternate weekends and major holidays.

8. I agree not to hang out on “your turf,” including but not limited to your front porch and the alley behind your house, especially while on a date.

9. I covenant not to refer to any future contracting party as “Puppytoes” or “Yum-yum.”

10. I shall have the option of temporarily resuming the contract on at least two occasions after the breakup, at least one of which shall be initiated by a romantic chance encounter, preferably at someone’s wedding. It is understood that these contract renewals will be for short periods and end badly.

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Andrew Jay McClurg is a law professor whose teaching and research interests include tort law, products liability, legal education, privacy law and firearms policy. He holds the Herbert Herff Chair of Excellence in Law at the University of Memphis Cecil C. Humphreys School of Law.
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