Anyone who has dated anyone post 2004 most likely has had access to social media. Social media has worked to enhance our connection with people, this constant connection to other people can have its pitfalls, particularly when you break up with your partner.
So lets take a common scenario. You start dating a guy (or girl), you meet their friends and get along very well. You add them on Facebook and other social media. Then the chain of connections begin as all the other friends follow suit by adding you as a friend as well. You take many pictures together, you go out to restaurants and bars together. You like your partner’s friends.
Everything is going well… or so it seems. Then one dreaded day, you decide (or worse its decided for you) that the relationship has come to an end. You are devastated. The dilemma? You still have your ex on Facebook – as well as alllll their friends – and are contemplating whether or not to remove them all.
I’ve faced that exact dilemma, and come out the other side with my emotions more or less intact. And here is what I learned.
Will it look like I care too much if I delete them all?
At the age of 22 I had asked myself this question after a particularly bad break up. I failed to remove the ex and his friends because I was too proud to admit defeat. How could I let him think that I cared enough to delete him? Won’t his friends think I am a little bit mean deleting them? After all they had done nothing wrong. Removing any of them would only prove that I was not over it.
After a year I was still struggling with the break up. I couldn’t comprehend why I had not moved on. Although I never showed the effect it had on me, it still hurt. I considered counselling, as surely it wasn’t normal to feel as though we’d split yesterday when it was a whole year ago, right? He had clearly moved on so why couldn’t I?
The reason was social media, I realised. I was never getting a clean break from him or his friends. They were everywhere – on my newsfeed, smiling in photos, posting status updates, tagging my ex. I hadn’t allowed myself to move on because in a way, he was still in my life.
Ask yourself: what is going to help me move on?
If you are a curious person and your own worst enemy, you will find out of boredom, curiosity or maybe even jealously, that you inevitably check your ex’s page. Or maybe you come across one of their friend’s profiles, only to see a photo of your ex out and about. It stings doesn’t it?
While you may be well aware that your ex will be moving on, it’s different when the evidence is right in front of you. Instead of being blissfully unaware of whether they’re down the street or in the depths of the Amazon for all you know, by seeing this photo they’r right back in front of you. Probably with their arm around someone else. It’s awful, and you have now pulled yourself two steps back.
Some people are disciplined enough to refrain from looking, but I'm not one of them. Just like if junk food is in my house, it will get eaten. The only time it will not get eaten is if I do not buy it from the grocery store. Take the same approach to seeing your ex on social media - if it's not there, you can't binge on it.
Don't get revenge. Seriously, don't.
You may decide to post a 'look at me I'm so hot/look what you are missing out on' photo in response. Again not particularly helpful (I know many women, including myself guilty of this error).
It may be satisfying in the short term, particularly if your ex 'likes' it. If you are deeply affected by the break up, you may spend time analysing the 'like' or comment they made.
But face it, there's a valid reason the two of you split up and no amount of 'likes' on photos is going to change that. It just gives you false hope, and slows down the process of healing on even further. Pose in that hot dress because you look great, though.
Now about the friends...
Your exes friend will be loyal to your ex as they were friends with them first, naturally. They will post photos out and about with your ex. The kind of photos you maybe do not want to see. The kind of photos you can't help looking at sometimes.
So what do you tell them if you decide to delete them to spare your own feelings? Let's face it, deleting people from social media can offend them. And if that happens, you can always explain that it's nothing they have done. It is merely to give yourself some space to move on, and you can still be friends in real life after all. They should be able to understand this.
What if you and the ex decide to be mates?
Another thing to remember is that just because you remove your ex and their friends from a social media platform does not mean it is set in stone. You can always add them again at a later time when you are one hundred percent over it and ready to be friends. Facebook is full of people that we do not spend time with in real life. Why pretend that being on a Facebook list is a true authentication of friendship?
The point is you need to be true to yourself. What is going to help you move on? Don't kid yourself that you are okay with seeing your ex on social media if you are not. It is detrimental in the long run. It's like opening a wound every second day and expecting it to heal.
For me, a clean break was what I needed to truly get over the relationship. And like me, you may find holding onto certain 'friends' on social media was doing you more harm than good.