How to Handle Social Media After a Breakup

Social networking after a breakup doesn't have to be awkward or dramatic.Social networking after a breakup doesn't have to be awkward or dramatic.

Before social networking became America’s favorite pastime, avoiding your ex meant shoving that shoebox full of pictures under the bed, ignoring his phone calls and buying your coffee at a different Starbucks. These days, unfortunately, it’s not that easy. Even if you can stay away in person, it’s nearly impossible to avoid running into him on your shared social networks. Instead of treating your followers to your own personal soap opera, take the (virtual) high road and handle your online breakup with grace.

Avoid the Temptation to Trash-Talk

Social networks provide an uncensored soapbox where you can get “your side of the story” out. But just because you can doesn’t mean you should -- especially in the early days when you’re still a boiling cauldron of emotion. Commiserate with friends privately, through email or phone calls, but resist the urge to post passive-aggressive status updates or turn your Twitter feed into a “Jerry Springer” episode. You might feel justified, especially if your ex is behaving badly, but it can backfire and make you look like the one who’s being petty and immature.

Hide Your Relationship Status

Facebook treats relationships as “life events,” which means that updates to your relationships are posted on your timeline and appear in your activity feed for all your friends to see. Before you make your breakup “Facebook official,” set the privacy level of your relationship status to “Only Me” – this way, any changes you make will remain your business and no one else’s. If you don't want to go private but still aren't ready to advertise your status as a singleton, select the blank option under the relationship drop-down menu to quietly remove the "in a relationship" status without publicizing the change.

Unfriending vs. Blocking

The adage “out of sight, out of mind” doesn’t really work when it comes to social networks, where – depending on your ex’s privacy settings – you may still see her posts when they’re commented on or shared by mutual friends. If the breakup was amicable, there’s no need to immediately unfriend or unfollow. If, however, it was a plate-throwing melodrama of Shakespearean proportion, it’s probably a good idea to cut your digital ties and move on. Unfriending might keep her statuses out of your news feed, but it won’t stop you from secretly checking her profile every now and then – or every five minutes – to see how she’s reacting to the breakup. Facebook understands the urge to profile-stalk and provides the “Block” option to prevent exactly that; it not only prevents contact between the two of you, it keeps your profiles completely hidden from one another.

Don’t Overcompensate

A sudden burst of updates about how fabulous your life is and how much you love meeting new people can make you look insecure, not awesome. There’s nothing wrong with enjoying your newly single social life, but if you’re using photos and status updates to make someone else jealous, all you’re really doing is hurting yourself. Examine your motives before tweeting about that hot date; are you doing it for you, or because you hope your ex will see it and realize what a mistake he made? If it’s the latter, you might want to dial back on the personal posts until you’re ready to move on for your own sake and no one else’s.

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About the Author

Jacqui Lane has been writing professionally for print and the web since 2004. She got her start at a small publisher, where she wrote, edited, designed advertising and handled page layout for up to five magazines a month. She writes primarily about video games, technology and internet culture. Lane holds a Bachelor of Arts in online journalism from Marshall University.

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