Social media – Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Tumblr – provide the best ways for us to share the joy we’re having in our relationships. We can declare and share with hundreds of friends and friends of friends our love. Our dates, commitments, marriages, anniversaries. Glamorous selfies and photos of us with our “Boo”, Soulmates, the one we “Can’t Live Without”! We spread those pictures like wildfire to our homepage, our profiles, cover photos and status updates. It’s great to be able to share the love, that is, until the music stops. What happens to all of those good times you’ve plastered all over your social media accounts about your “Best Love Ever” if that love is now “The worst mistake ever”? Can you Unsend, Remove, Retract all of those photos and statuses? Is there an app for that? It’s complicated!
When you do meet that one person who blows your mind you want to shout it out to everyone, and social media allows you to do just that. You can share how you feel about that new love you’ve been waiting for, and you stamp it official with an “In a Relationship” or “Just Married” status. So then we move on to posting pics of ourselves dancing with our significant others, laughing, partying, goofing around, and just plain having the time of our lives.
But what happens if later that wonderfully amazing relationship doesn’t work out? Should this be shared with everyone? How do you handle it?
All of your former relationship history is now written in internet stone. Your ex who was once the most wonderful person in the world, is now far from it. You are left to deal with reminders and pop-ups, past photos, throw-back shares, and a new feature that Facebook now has called “Memories to Look Back On”. It’s bad enough that you’re trying to heal your heart and now you have to deal with boomerangs. Unwanted memories will make you hit your head, like, “What was I thinking?”. You might now have to face these old wounds everyday in your social media feed and timeline. The average person is on social media sites too often to have to worry about the past reminding them of what ‘once was’. Worse yet, no one wants to deal with their ex’s new statues. You know the ones that show how they’ve MOVED ON! Fact is, having common friends increases your chances of seeing everything they post.
Why It’s Not so Easy
Sometimes it’s not as easy as Unfriending, De-Twittering or Unfollowing on Instagram. You both share the same network of friends, colleagues, schoolmates, professional pals, all of whom might have one post related to another. You may even have children together and for their sake you may have to continue an amicable relationship on social media. Your inter-connected network with your Ex is harder to cut than than you thought. Even if you do unfriend or block, you can still get hit with your ex’s latest photo, latest accomplishment, and latest “Boo”. That annoying “Enjoying pizza at the Super Bowl party with my love” message will pop-up and it won’t any longer, be about you. How do you handle that status making its way into your feed or timeline?
Just as easy as it is to declare to all to the world that you’re ‘In a relationship” , it might be harder to declare that you’ve “Just broken up”. Is there a status update announcement for that? It’s complicated! Those constant reminders of your lost love may have been nice to carry you through your day while you were still dating, but you’re no longer dating now. You’re no longer together.
Your ex is now eating at that new Jamaican Fusion restaurant with the their new date. Or they’ve “checked-in” to the local movie theater see that latest scary horror film. Worse yet, it’s only been a few months but your ex is now getting engaged! Imagine that. The announcement of their engagement, or the wedding photos that could have been yours or the newborn that should have been yours. Is all of this even healthy for you to deal with?
There is no textbook method for breaking up in social media, so don’t feel like you’re alone. The American Psychological Association has indicated that there is “no standard method for breaking-up” in the new digital age of technology and social media. It might even affect the healing process and worse yet can encourage stalking. So how do you handle a digital break-up as the heart-breaker or even the heart-breakee?
Digital Break-up Strategies –
If your break-up is amicable and the two of you can at least agree to disagree, there may be some strategies that can help you both end it more painlessly than you ever thought before. You just might be able to create your digital break-up exit-plan.
You once made the mutual announcement that you were both together – “In at Relationship” or “Married”. If the breakup is amicable, maybe you can make the announcement together that you two have broken up.
Maybe an announcement to mutual friends only with the following information: “We have decided to break up and as you know this can be difficult, as our friends we hope you assist us in making this a process with your compassion.”
You might find that your friends might show more sensitivity than you think and for a while at least, they will consider your feelings when they are talking to your ex via Facebook, Twitter or Instagram.
Have the announcement sent from both of your accounts so that friends can see it is accepted by both parties. Limit the break-up announcement only to those who know the both of you. That’s a sign of a dramaless breakup, and will help eliminate social media speculation and drama.
Once you send out the break-up announcement, sit back and wait for the support to come rolling in. It will start with “likes” or favorites on your announcement. Then hopefully, the comments will show support too. If there are any negative comments, try deleting before the thread gets out of hand and remind your friends that this is to help you and not add to any further pain. True friends will be supportive and might even offer to help. You will then have a great support network starting for you already. Most will be compassionate and caring, which is exactly the type of attention you’ll need to get through the tough time.
The Facebook Break-up Tool
Facebook released an app designed to help with digital breakups. Facebook product manager, Kelly Winters, announced, “we are testing tools to help people manage how they interact with their former partners on Facebook after a relationship has ended”. This is how the feature would work. When you update your relationship status, you will be prompted by Facebook to use the new “break-up” tool. You can now select whether or not you want to see your ex’s photos, name and posts, even if you haven’t unfriended or blocked them. That way you will not come off as being bitter or vengeful with an unfriendly block. With this app you don’t have to be reminded that you are no longer together – daily. Their posts won’t show up in your news feed and their name won’t be suggested when people write a new message or tag friends in photos.” You will even be able to limit the status your ex sees of yours, without having to block or unfriend them.
For now, Instagram and Twitter are limited to the ‘block’ and ‘unfollow’ feature, but it’s good to know that there are ways we can deal with our break-ups, other than hiding under our covers hoping that the Break-up Blues just goes away.