In pre-internet movies, the rituals of how to deal with a breakup are well-documented. You gather up everything your ex gave you, put it in a box, and either bury it or burn it. After that, the only times you have to be reminded of them are if you bump into each other in public or if “your song” comes on the radio.
But with the advents of social media, dealing with breakups is far less cut-and-dry. You don’t just break up with someone’s physical self — you have to break up with their social media presence, too. And between Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat — hell, even LinkedIn — getting rid of reminders of your former beloved is much easier said than done.
Luckily, there’s a few good tricks that can soften the blow, and make sure you see your ex as little as possible when browsing your various timelines.
It’s incredibly common to want to “stalk” your ex on social media after a breakup. Whether you’re pining to get them back, want to see what they’re up to, or want desperately to know if they’re already seeing someone new, the urge to go through and nitpick their each and every post and tagged photo can be incredibly strong.
Whatever you have to do, fight the urge and stay well away from their profiles. Yes, “just a quick look” will most definitely hurt.
Disable Timehop And “On This Day”
Though Timehop and Facebook’s “On This Day” feature are meant to show you nostalgia-inducing (slash-highly embarrassing) snippets from your past, they can become a painful nuisance when paired with a breakup.
I deleted Timehop for good after my last breakup, and “unsubscribed” from On This Day updates until I was ready to see those parts of my past — and I haven’t looked back.
To unsubscribe from On This Day updates; head here, then hit the Notifications button in the top right corner, then select “None.”
Don’t Broadcast Your Heartbreak — but Don’t Lie About It, Either
Another of the more common post-breakup rituals is to make a big announcement about your new relationship status, either declaring yourself single and “ready to mingle” or discussing how bad your ex hurt you. While these sorts of posts can be cathartic and often attention-grabbing in the short-term, they’re often super embarrassing after those intense emotions have ebbed or subsided.
You are, of course, the only person who can decide how public you want to be about breakups, but lying about a breakup and pretending it never happened can only come back to haunt you. This is most often the route of jilted lovers who haven’t yet accepted that they’ve been dumped, but whatever the case, acting like you’re still coupled when you’re not has never been a good look.
Judge the Severity of Your Broken Heart — or Your Anger
Anyone who’s dated as much as me knows that not all breakups are created equal. There’s the amicable, “this isn’t working but I still care about you” breakup, and then there’s the “I curse you and your entire bloodline and never want to see you again” breakup — and, of course, tons of circumstances in between.
To judge just how far you need to go to avoid your ex online, you need to be brutally honest with yourself about how much they hurt you. If you underestimate your pain or anger, it will come back to haunt you when you don’t take the necessary steps to cut your ex out of your digital life.
If You’re Seething With Rage or Mega-Hurt — Block Them
As extreme as it may seem to block an ex, it’s much less so than seeing their face, name and comments all over your feeds. With the block feature (on Facebook and Twitter, at least), their comments and replies will be hidden even on posts from mutual friends. Sure, you might notice some “missing” replies now and again, but it’s better than seeing the words and face of the person who broke your heart.
On other platforms, like Instagram and Snapchat, blocking can often be the only way to “unfriend” and not see posts or updates by your ex. Beyond just blocking you from seeing their posts, this feature also keeps them from e-stalking your posts as well — a common post-breakup tactic regardless of who did the dumping.
To block them on Facebook; head to their profile, hit the “three dots” button just underneath their cover photo on the right hand side, then hit “Block.”
If It Ended on Good Terms, You Can Stay Friends — but Proceed With Caution
If you’re one of the lucky few to have an amicable breakup, you might feel as if there’s no need to change your social media habits with regards to your ex. While it’s true that you don’t need to block out all mentions of them, it’s often in your best interest to unfollow a recent ex on Facebook to avoid reminiscing too much. To do this, simply head to their profile and hit the “Unfollow” button.
With Twitter, IG and Snapchat, this is a bit more difficult. If you’re truly ok with seeing their thoughts and their face (and potentially them with a new partner), then it’s ok to still follow them. Otherwise, there’s nothing wrong with unfollowing them for a while to allow yourself time to heal. If they care about you, they’ll understand.
Breakup? There’s an App for That
Though navigating your social networks post-breakup is a daunting task, app developers have also found ways to help assuage your digital broken heart. For the bridge-burners out there, there’s Killswitch, an app that deletes all tagged photos, videos, and posts shared between you and your ex and hides them in a secret folder. And though the Mend app isn’t based solely on social media, it is an excellent app to help guide you through the process of breaking up and moving on.