How to Navigate Social Media After a Bad Breakup
What if our exes ceased to exist, if only for a while, after a bad breakup? This is an unrealistic fantasy (and maybe a little mean), but breakups are tough enough as it is, bringing out the worst in people. This can be especially true online, a place where it’s become impossible to free yourself entirely from your former significant other.
Research published in Proceedings of the Association for Computing Machinery found when recently single individuals took every possible measure to remove their exes online, social media would still display their content in some shape or form, often multiple times a day.
Participants expressed that features like various news feeds and throwback “memories” were major sources of distress, as were comments in groups and mutual friends’ pictures. These are just a few of the many places you may unexpectedly encounter your ex online and, unfortunately, there is no surefire way to keep them from popping up and ruining your day.
Alas, this is the age we live in, and all we can do is cope. To help us do that, AskMen spoke with experts on how we can best navigate social media after a breakup.
Block or Remove Your Ex From Everything
Even though it doesn’t guarantee they won’t cross your path, blocking or removing an ex from all of your social media will definitely limit how much you have to see them. This precaution can also reduce the temptation to check their profiles.
“The more boundaries you set for yourself, the harder it will be to expose yourself to negative information,” says mental health therapist Kasia Ciszewski, LCPA.
This is recommended as your basic precaution after a breakup for your mental health.
“It’s not worth having a day ruined based on a curated post,” notes couples’ therapist Tracy K. Ross, LCSW. “Mute or unfollow your ex’s close friends and family as well. The name of the game is to remove triggers so you can have your own process of going through and healing after the breakup.”
Make Your Access to Social Media More Difficult
If blocking your ex seems too extreme (or you don’t want to give them the satisfaction), you could try limiting your time on social media with a temporary break. You can do this by completely removing all of the apps from your phone, or simply by signing out of your accounts so it takes more time to log in.
“It’s all about resisting that craving. Adding more steps to the process makes it less desirable,” says Ciszewski. “Anything you can do to slow down your ability to access social media will help you from indulging.”
After enough time, the urge to check up on your ex will pass, allowing you to return to social media more even-tempered. If you can do a total cleanse, Ross recommends setting time limits for how long you access social media.
“Many people report that they start feeling better after a breakup only to regress after time spent on social media,” says Ross. “It’s amazing how liberating it is to take a break from social media and post-breakup is a good time to give yourself that experience.”
Be Mature About It
Social media can be used as a superficial platform to project your best life, and this urge can be amplified after a breakup. Both experts recommend you avoid this painfully obvious act of showboating.
“These impulses often do more harm than good,” notes Ross. “Many who are newly single feel the need to post pictures of themselves having fun and looking as if they don’t have a care in the world, but try your best to resist the urge. It’s a lot of energy and is actually inappropriate.”
The reason it is inappropriate? Whether you know it or not, you are trying to regain power over the situation.
“This kind of behavior will only lead to unhealthy games and prolonged pain,” states Ciszewski. “The healing process requires a lot of time. There’s no right or wrong way but accepting the loss of a relationship and the loss of a future with that person is easier when you don’t engage in the present.”
Act Authentic and Continue to Stay Positive
The internet can be an overwhelmingly negative place sometimes, so instead of wallowing in that darkness during a bad split, try and focus on the good things in your life.
“Share something that has had a positive impact on you and might inspire others,” suggests Ross. “Everyone could use some positive energy and it will help you heal from the breakup. It’s okay to post motivational messaging for yourself and others who are going through breakups. This can help people feel less alone and more hopeful.” <>/p> It may also help you find and interact with others in similar situations, which is incredibly comforting during a time when you feel especially alone.
Resist The Urge to Engage With Your Ex Online
Undoubtedly obvious, sure, but you may be compelled to reach out to your ex when boredom sets in (or if they “accidentally” like a post of yours). Naturally, both experts advise you do not engage with them under any circumstances.
“It’s a mistake to think that if they like one of your pictures it has meaning, in all likelihood it doesn’t and was just an impulse in the moment,” says Ross.
Even if you think you can still be friends, stay apart for a while. It’s important to redefine who you are outside of the relationship first before deciding if you actually want to be friends, or if you think you’re only doing so to fill an emotional void. There is no shame in feeling pain after a breakup. In fact, feeling that pain will make it easier to move on in the long run. Do what’s best for you, even if that involves a social media hiatus if you’re finding things difficult or tedious online.
Engaging in life offline with friends and family will show you more support than any double-tap on Instagram ever could.