Social media makes breakups way harder than they need to be, so you might want extra guidance during the aftermath.
To help you deal with social media after a breakup (especially your ex on social media), we put together this guide by reaching out to therapists, dating/relationship experts and social media experts. For their distilled wisdom — and tips from Talkspace — look below:
At First – Go Out and Away from Social
Creating a busy social life in the real world will force you to neglect social media after a breakup. Try working out more, catching up with friends you haven’t seen in a while or experimenting with a new hobby. Many people spend around an hour a day on social media, which is plenty of time to do something else.
Be Considerate When Posting About These Outings
Going out more after breakups can be a good coping strategy, but be considerate if you plan on posting about your fun times. Whether it’s your intention or not, exes might think you are trying to show them how easy it was to get over them. The people in your networks may see it as disingenuous as well. One of the therapists we work with had a client who illustrated this point.
After Some Time to Heal – Restart Your Routine
People experience a grieving process after breakups.
“It’s like a death, but that person is still breathing,” said Talkspace therapist Christy Paul.
You might be tempted to curl up and stop your normal activities until the pain goes away, Paul said, but restarting your routine will make the grieving process more bearable. This applies to social media as well.
If you regularly engage in positive activities on social media such as tweeting about a topic you follow, posting landscape photos on Instagram or leaving helpful comments on friends’ posts, don’t stop. Take some time to grieve, then get back to it.
But Fight the Temptation to Check Up on Your Ex Via Social Media
Telling someone to stop browsing their ex’s social media usually isn’t enough. They might need a gradual reduction rather than going cold turkey. Maybe start with once a day on several platforms. Then scale it down to three times a week on one platform, and so on. If anything you see upsets you, log off immediately. You can also keep a tally of how many times you check social media after a breakup. Every time you add a mark, write a healthier and more productive activity next to it.
Embrace Positive People and Communities, Stay Away from the Negative
After a breakup, only spend time with positive people and communities. Don’t browse social media pages full of bitter statements about exes or sweeping statements on men and women.
Note: This tip is based on advice from Detroit-based dating coach Lisa Schmidt.
Facebook and Instagram Are Different Beasts After a Breakup
After a breakup, you may be asking yourself: “should I delete my ex off social media?” Well, you’ll need to execute a version of the post-breakup social media strategy for every platform you are on. Facebook and Instagram tend to cause the most drama, but the others can strike when your guard is down.
Facebook is the ultimate post-breakup drama exacerbator. Posts hang around way longer and there are mutual friends and a wealth of settings to consider. Here are some actionable tips to protect yourself one click at a time (via HighSpeedInternet.com’s social media expert, Cosette Jarrett):
- If your relationship status is listed and public, make it private before you change it. Facebook has a help page on how to do this. Only do it publicly if your ex and you have agreed to.
- Consider unfollowing your ex instead of unfriending. If the breakup wasn’t so bad, you don’t want to be in a position where you are friend requesting them after things cool down. You can unfollow by looking at the ex’s profile and clicking that option. For horrendous breakups, block away.
- Consider putting all pictures of you and your ex in a private photo album. You can untag people or delete them in worst cases.
- If your profile picture has your ex in it and you want to change it discreetly, try this.
These tips should make Instagram feel like less of a post-breakup vice:
- Consider re-captioning or tagging pictures before deleting them. If your ex is in the only picture you have of some amazing once-in-a-lifetime-event, it might be worth keeping.
- Apply the “Be Classy” tips to Instagram
- Think about temporarily unfollowing brands and personalities likely to make you think of the breakup: wedding companies and blogs, musicians or YouTube stars who frequently post about breakups
- Unfollow your ex’s friends
You don’t have to be famous for a twitter beef to ensue. To prevent that, practice the same guidelines here: unfollow accounts likely to make you upset, stay classy and reboot your routine. You can also follow some new accounts that will make you laugh.
Yes, LinkedIn can open up your relationship scabs. People connect with their significant others and exes on LinkedIn either for legitimate career reasons or because they believe they should be connected in every way possible.
Social media expert and Socialty founder Marina Christos suggests people be cautious when using the “Who’s viewed your profile?” tab. This tab is important when you’re job hunting, but don’t look at it during breakups unless you need to. If your ex peruses your profiles thoroughly enough, his or her face might pop up in that row of connections. Not everyone has the “private mode” feature.
Understand the #1 Reason for Social Media Checkups
When you break up with someone, make the “why?” painfully clear. This will reduce the chance of them browsing your social media or attempting to embarrass you. If exes don’t feel like you gave adequate reasons, they will try looking for clues on your profiles.
We Don’t Want You to Break Up Again, But If You Do…
Social Media Prenups
Couples should discuss how to handle crises before they happen, said Talkspace therapist Nicole Amesbury, and social media is no exception. Having the “What should we do on social if we break up?” discussion while you’re in a stable relationship can be awkward, but it might save you a lot of heartbreak.
It should include important questions such as:
- Should we keep our mutual “friends”?
- Do we block or unfollow each other?
- Do we send a co-written message to our friends telling them what is going on?
- Where should we put our nude pictures?
Marriage therapist and author Dr. Sheri Meyers called this a social media prenup and used it with one of her exes.
“Part of my agreement is no ugly pictures posted,” Meyers told Katie Couric during an interview.
Couples can customize this agreement with similar stipulations and have hired lawyers in some cases (usually when they don’t think a verbal agreement is enough and want to protect their personal brands).
If the breakup is amicable, both partners should keep to this strategy — hopefully without hiring lawyers.
Healthy Use of Social Media
Breakups are difficult, especially in our hyper-connected age, and wondering “should I delete my ex off of social media” is a valid and important question to ask yourself. Social media improves our lives by connecting us with new people, granting more accessibility to great content and providing a platform to share our thoughts. On the other hand, studies show it exacerbates anxiousness and inadequacy, feelings you are likely to have during a breakup. Like any double-edged sword, healthy use is the only way to reap the benefits without succumbing to the negative effects.
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