Breaking up has always been a painful, miserable business, but social networking has added a whole new level of mortification to the process. Now, instead of news of your relationship’s demise trickling out in manageable quantities and gradually disseminating throughout your social circles, everyone from your 8th grade lab partner to your best client’s receptionist is treated to a peppy little announcement that you just got dumped. To add insult to heartache, these announcements are accompanied by a chipper little broken-heart emoticon.
But it doesn’t have to be all bad. In fact, if you follow these steps, the social networking aspect of your breakup might even turn out to be cathartic.
Hopefully your breakup was one of those rare civil ones where the two of you can decide together how to let the world know that you’re both unencumbered and looking for love. If not, he/she who gets to the computer first, decides, which gives you two options:
Again, you have two options when it comes to photos of the two of you. If they’re your photographs, you can simply delete them or go into photoshop and replace her with Megan Fox or him with Alexander Skarsgård. If they belong to the heartbreaker, untag yourself so they don’t come up in your feed.
This is when it’s vitally important that you know yourself. If you’re going to make yourself miserable stalking your ex via social media and leaving weepy messages on their wall, delete and block the ex completely. It’ll be like they never happened, except for that t-shirt they “borrowed.” If your breakup was less traumatic, you can just pick the unfriend option and delete them from your friends list.
Even if you had one of those mythical mutual breakups that segues right into BFF-dom, it’s probably best to disconnect from your ex, at least for a month or two. You can always re-friend once the ego dings are smoothed out.
Depending on the circumstances of your relationship, you may have a lot of mutual friends. But some people are always going to be more your ex’s than yours, and those people should probably be eliminated from your page, along with your ex. On the upside, it’ll be very satisfying to delete that jerk who never really liked you. But on the downside, you’ll no longer have a direct conduit to what’s going on with your ex. Actually, that’s a win/win. Delete!
Nobody expects you to be chirpy, post-breakup, but status updates like “Jane is weeping into her cornflakes because she wasted three years on a cheater” or “Bill always knew Sally would break his heart” only make everyone on your friend feed uncomfortable. As will an endless procession of Sade lyrics or Joy Division videos. Heartbreak haiku is why trapper keepers were invented.
Suddenly posting scantily clad photos or alluding to wild dates with a mysterious stranger is both transparent and pathetic. You’re better than that and if you’re driven to such lengths, you should block your ex until you’ve regained your grip. And while you’re at it—put on some pants!
You’ll be surprised how much support will come rushing out of the interwebs once people know you’re in pain. FB messages are great, but use these reconnections to make plans offline. Use other social networks like Meet Up to get out of your house and meet new people. Who knows, maybe you’ll even get a date out of your dumping.
Speaking of which, step away from the computer. The healthiest thing you can do for yourself is get a little distance from the person who hurt you and when you can easily locate that person inside your laptop, it can be all too tempting to get back in touch. So keep yourself busy outside the house, or limit yourself to checking emails. Farmville will still be there when you get back.
Facebook can be a wonderful thing—it allows you to easily reconnect with old friends and make new ones. But when you’re in the midst of a breakup, taking a little break is probably the wisest thing you can do. And remember, once you’re feeling a bit peppier, you can use it to find a new love!
by Judy McGuire
Judy McGuire has been advising the lovelorn for more than a decade, writing a column called “Dategirl” for the Seattle Weekly, among others. She is also the author of How Not to Date (2008) and The Official Sex, Drugs, and Rock ‘n’ Roll Book of Lists (2011).