Maida Vale author explains controversial ‘slate and date’ website
Munir Bello doesn’t take a break-up lightly. He’s been dumped in the supermarket after telling one girlfriend that a “certain celebrity” was hot, started ranting about “equal opportunities” when expected to pay for an expensive restaurant date and, as he explains, became enraged when another partner hid their relationship from her family by calling him “a friend”.
“The words escaped her f***ing lips before the question was finished. When she was around my friends, however, she was content to tell them that we were together. She unexpectedly ended things with me after giving me the run around for some time and I took it on the chin.”
Considering all of the above stories were recently published on the Maida Vale author’s new website, it’s questionable as to whether he really did move on. His literary debut last year, self-declared “lad-lit” novel The Break-Up Recipe, was spurred by talks with other members of the heartbreak hotel and it subsequently proved the inspiration behind sheleft.me – a “tongue-in-cheek” dating website that allows dumpees to vent their frustrations about past relationships – in the hope of finding new love.
While most ‘take it on the chin’ by spending a few days depressed in their bedroom a la Jon Favreau’s Swingers, Bello believes relating your experiences online can be cathartic. “When you go through a break-up, you tend to get down in the dumps and depressed and I thought this would be a good way to share your tales, but most importantly have a laugh and get through it.”
Headed by a tagline of ‘Get over it, get even’, the website, though aimed at both men and women, features categories including ‘Bitch of the Week’ and ‘Hoes and Woes’, which encourage visitors to moan about their past relationships. Bello believes this will prove the perfect environment to find that special someone.
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“The thing about conventional dating websites is that a lot of people don’t just list the things that they like, they also list the things that they don’t like. So this forum allows people to talk about why they’ve broken up recently, what they didn’t like about their previous relationships. Anything they don’t agree with, they can strike off the list.”
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Claiming The Break-Up Recipe – the fictional story of a man who is cheated on four days before his wedding – has attracted a significant female following, Bello is keen to stress sheleft.me is very much open to both genders.
“When I did the market research and test reads (for The Break-Up Recipe), I found suddenly that all these girls were really interested and that they were my core audience, so that’s why, if you look at the marketing material, I decided to pose naked for it because I thought that’s a way to drive that audience.
“The website itself is aimed at men and women. However, because it’s written by a man, I don’t have a female perspective, so that’s why it’s quite blokey. You’ll see the evolution of the site as time goes by getting more contributions from females. There’ll be an even split and I anticipate that, in time, it’ll be taken over by a large female subscription.”
Despite featuring some content that could easily be construed as sexist, the 30-year-old clarifies that this is very much not the website’s aim.
Of ‘hoes and woes’, he says: “The key word in that title is woes, a reference to people suffering heartbreak, as opposed to just labelling or generalising women as all hoes, which is certainly not the case.”
Bello is excited by the website’s potential growth and hopes that the sponsorship provided by uBangalala – a company which provides food supplements to aid male sexual enhancement – will see his audience skyrocket.
Now in a “happy relationship” and currently writing the second of The Break-Up Recipe trilogy, the author says people now regularly turn to him as a guru. “I get a lot of guys who write into me speaking about their own relationships looking for advice. Even just from speaking to friends or people at bars and restaurants, they are very forthcoming.”