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TCBY: A Minor Breakup

Last night I got TCBY’d: A man I had been dating asked me to return my shirts.

Yes, TCBY’d is not a real word or term. It’s something my friends and I use to denote a minor breakup. Generally, you can only be TCBY’d by someone you haven’t been going out with very long.

My friends and I have been using this term for a few years. It started when I dumped JK, a boyfriend I had been dating for a couple months. I had liked JK a ton, but he was terrible at being a boyfriend. I quickly became frustrated with this man’s shortcomings and ended the relationship.

After the breakup, I went to my friends’ Dave and Danielle’s house to talk about what had happened. As I was telling the story, my friend Danielle asked if JK had seen the breakup coming. I said I wasn’t sure. Dave, being Dave, immediately interrupted my story, proclaiming, “it’s just like when I worked at TCBY!” His story went something like this:

When Dave was in high school, he had a part-time job at a local TCBY. (Yes, the frozen yogurt place.) Dave had gotten into trouble a couple of times at TCBY for really stupid reasons. The first time, it was a hot summer day and the store had a never-ending line. Instead of cleaning up the store, Dave served customers. The second time, Dave got caught giving his mom a little extra yogurt for free. At the time, Dave’s mother really deserved some extra yogurt. Nonetheless, the TCBY manager decided to fire Dave.

Dave saw this firing coming. On his next scheduled shift, Dave arrived with his specially embroidered TCBY shirts. He was ready to return them as soon as he was fired.

As predicted, upon Dave’s arrival his manager called him into a meeting. The manager was visibly nervous about firing him and was uncomfortable with the situation. Rather than let his manager flounder, Dave simply handed her his shirts.

TCBY broke up with Dave. He saw it coming. Now, whenever I break up with someone I haven’t been dating very long, we call it a “TCBY.” If I was the dumper, I received my shirt back. If I was the situation’s dumpee, I gave back my shirt. Last night I gave back my TCBY shirts.

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I met MK (the man who TCBY’d me) at a holiday party I attended for work. The party was one I hadn’t wanted to attend, but felt obligated to go to. My work did not pay for this holiday gathering and I resented being charged $40 to attend.

Soon after the party started, a dude who is associated with my work, but doesn’t actually work for the company, arrived with a friend. As this was a dude who enjoyed hitting on me and every woman around, I was not thrilled to see him. His friend, MK, however, seemed interesting.

Throughout the evening, when the dude I wasn’t happy to see was not hitting on me, MK came to talk to me. At the end of the evening, MK asked me for my phone number and I gave it to him.

MK called me a few days later and we had a great conversation. We had similar senses of humor and talking to him was fun and easy. Toward the end of our first phone conversation MK asked if he could take me to dinner. I said yes.

On the night of our first date, MK came to pick me up. It was snowing heavily that night and had been snowing for days. I loved that MK was willing to drive through the slippery nastiness to come and get me. I got in his car and we headed for dinner.

Our first date went fantastically well. We talked for hours, then made out in his car when MK dropped me off. MK explained that he was going away for a couple of weeks for the holidays and he would talk to me while he was away.

For the next two weeks, MK and I frequently spoke on the phone. Our conversations were always fun and we talked about how we were looking forward to seeing each other when he got home. The two weeks he was away felt really long and I was glad when they came to an end.

As soon as he returned, MK and I went out again. We went to a local seafood restaurant and had a great meal and drank a bottle of wine. It was an evening I think of as a “bubble” evening — ne where I am so wrapped up in the person I am with that I feel like we’re in a bubble and nothing else exists.

After we left the restaurant that night, we got in MK’s car and there was more making out. At one moment, MK paused and said, “just be good to me, that’s all I ask.” I told him that absolutely, I would be good to him. A few minutes later, I followed with “I think you’re different. I think you could be something.” Both of us said corny things to each other that night. It felt right. I was quickly becoming infatuated and I liked it. There was no question in my mind that MK felt the same way.

For the next couple of weeks, things were great. MK and I spoke often and had more good dates. Then, just as quickly as I had become infatuated, things went really wrong. At a highly inopportune time, MK revealed some things from his past. Things that I didn’t have a big problem with, but affected him every day. MK was a messed-up dude.

After the big “reveal” evening, MK and I had another good date. Things seemed okay, but I was starting to realize how different we were. While I am happy hanging out with my friends and playing video games, MK loved to go to clubs and dance until 4 a.m. I wanted contentment from my life. He wanted constant excitement. This signaled a big problem for us.

Last night I went to MK’s house to hang out. It was a good night until MK freaked out and said, “I can’t do this.” I was calm about the situation. I told him it was okay and we talked for a few minutes. I learned more about how messed up he is and that he’s not trying very hard to fix himself. He told me that it wasn’t anything that I had done, he’s just in terribly bad shape. For the first time, I believed the “it’s not you, it’s me” line. This one was totally him. I gave back my TCBY shirt.

While it’s sad to see something you had hope for dissolve, this one legitimately was for the best. There was no way I could take on MK’s issues. He has to deal with them for himself. That, combined with my disinterest in dancing at clubs and skydiving, makes this dissolution okay. Someone else will give me a new TCBY shirt. Hopefully I won’t be asked to return it.

TCBY: A Minor Breakup

Stacey Goldstein

APA Reference
Goldstein, S. (2018). TCBY: A Minor Breakup. Psych Central. Retrieved on August 14, 2020, from
Scientifically Reviewed
Last updated: 8 Oct 2018 (Originally: 17 May 2016)
Last reviewed: By a member of our scientific advisory board on 8 Oct 2018
Published on Psych All rights reserved.