Breaking up used to be so much simpler.
While the heartbreak never changes, the fallout of a nasty separation didn’t used to be so toxic. When relationships fell apart, it was entirely possible to move on without frequent reminders of what you once had.
Those days are loooooooooooong gone.
With the relatively recent rise of social media as a primary form of communication, the private has become public. Breakups are now events witnessed by everyone in your news feed, and any semblance of a dignified separation can be shattered by a single insensitive comment on Instagram.
So how can you move on without embarrassing yourself or your ex on the internet? How do you navigate the waters of breakup etiquette in this new digital landscape?
It’s tempting to spill your guts on social media after you’ve been dumped. Usually, that takes the form of an indirect, passive-aggressive message about loss, love, and life. But don’t think vagueness is fooling anyone. All your friends know who those Taylor Swift lyrics are referring to.
It will make you look desperate and pathetic if you publicize you broken heart all over the internet. Solution? Buy a journal and write in it every time you’re tempted to go public with those feelings.
Journal therapy can decrease anxiety, depression, and grief, so it can likely help you mend. Schedule a daily time to write down your thoughts, or keep a notebook around you when you’re tempted to write a melodramatic novel on Facebook.
Don’t delete your photos.
If you’ve spent enough time with someone, you likely have proof of your relationship all over Facebook. You may be tempted to remove all that evidence — especially if you’re angry about being dumped.
Don’t do that.
At some point, when you feel less bitter, you may want to look at those photos and even remember them fondly. No one stays a jilted lover forever, and you may be grateful for your past relationships when you see where they’ve led you.
Plus, deleting photos shows you’re not prepared to handle the breakup in a mature way. If you’ve tagged other people besides your ex in the photos, they may be bummed to find out their memories are gone too.
Abstain from social media altogether.
Spending time on social media is not the answer any time you’re feeling emotional. Studies indicate that social media use can cause people to crave attention and seek it in unhealthy ways.
Try detaching from your phone and temporarily deleting your social apps. Seeing happy couples on Instagram might fuel jealousy. Finding out your ex has already moved on through Facebook is even worse.
You don’t have to give up your phone. You can use apps like Duolingo to brush up on your Spanish or Headspace to practice meditating. New habits will help you move on, and focusing on personal improvement can help you come out the other side a better person.
If you’re having trouble staying away, use extensions such as StayFocusd or Simple Blocker to limit how much time you can spend on social media. Other apps like BreakFree Cell Phone Addiction will send an alert when you’ve been on your phone too long.
Ignore your ex.
Everyone loves to Facebook and Instagram stalk, and there’s no better subject than a recent ex. When you start stalking, it can be impossible to stop. If your ex is active on social, you’ll likely find photos of them having fun, enjoying their new single status or, even worse, dating someone else.
I used to spend hours looking up ex-boyfriends on social after getting dumped. Trust me: I wish I could take back that time. I would have found out when they’d moved on anyway, and I could have been doing something healthy or productive instead.
Looking up your ex on social is an exercise in masochism. It won’t help you move on.Looking up your ex on social is an exercise in masochism. It won't help you move on.Click To Tweet
Delete personal comments off your page.
Everyone has a nosy aunt who loves to comment on any and every event in their life. It may not even occur to her that when she posts, “Sorry to hear you and Adam broke up!” everyone — including Adam — can see it.
If you see comments like that, delete them and message that individual privately. They may not realize what they’re doing and assume it’s like sending you a personal email. Be polite, but firmly explain why it’s not appropriate to make those statements on a public forum.
We’re all trying to navigate the new media landscape the best we can, but it can be hard for some people to discern what’s appropriate and what’s not. Setting clear boundaries for what you allow for discussion publicly makes it easier for everyone involved.