The social media ex-files

Exes used to be a thing of your past. Now, they’re clogging up your newsfeed. Here’s how to deal.

Remember that time where you could breakup with your boyfriend and that was it? You had a cry, your friends consoled you and, although it was hard to forget him, he was out of sight and therefore out of mind quicker that you could say “check out that cute guy”.

Breaking up with a boyfriend now is a totally different ball game. Even if you delete him on social media, pictures of him can still pop up on your friends’ newsfeeds. Even that guy you had a one-night-stand with “likes” your pics and can check out your musical taste on Spotify. Yep, thanks to Facebook, Twitter, Instagram (the list goes on), there’s no way we can fully avoid our exes, so here’s how to manage it.

Forget me not

When the love of your life becomes the ex-love of your life, it can be pretty hard to forget about him. Being connected with him on social media, but not IRL, is seriously tricky territory. “It’s hard to cut all social media ties with someone you’ve dated. When you’re with someone they become part of your circle of friends so even if you’ve deleted him, your friends might not,” says Isiah McKimmie, relationship expert. “The ‘unfriend’ has become uncommon because we like to play it cool and act like we don’t actually care and can totally cope with seeing our ex on social media.” But beware, this is opening yourself up to daily updates about how well he is doing without you. And don’t even get us started on seeing pics of him with a new chick. Ouch.

Online relations

So even if you dated a guy twice or slept with him once, you still build up a strange quasi-relationship with him when you’re linked via social media. “Even casual dates have expansive biographies to plow through and life narratives you can follow for years. You hear about their hangovers when you check Twitter for the morning news. They can jump into your pants whenever they want by sending text messages that land in your pocket,” says Maureen O’Conner who wrote about social media relationships for the The Cut.

So even though you barely, ahem, spoke when you spent the night with this guy, thanks to communication 2.0 it feels like you really know him when you actually don’t, which makes it harder to let go of the non-relationship. So think very hard about befriending a new guy on FB ladies because it could be only a matter of days before you regret having the constant reminder of your drunken night.

We can’t shut the door

Having our exes on social media can mean that we can never fully shut the door on them. As Maureen says, this can be pure torture. “I have a friendwho tried to erase an ex-boyfriend. They dated for two months, until he dumped her using a technique known as ‘the fadeaway’—‘just blowing me off repeatedly after all of this intensity,’ Celia said. His online presence became salt in her wound, ‘Tormenting me by tweeting every five seconds.’ Even when she stopped following him, she could not escape the retweets.”

Is your ex care-factor pretty high? “It’s time to really think about why you care so much when you see him on social media or feel the need to Facebook stalk him every now and then,” says Isiah. If it’s because there’s still some hope there or you still have feelings for him, you need to detox your ex out of your life. Say hello to a social media detox.

Log off

OK, so we’ve established that it’s kind of impossible to fully control alt delete an ex from your life but there are ways you can deal if you’re finding constant updates on his life unbearable. “You need to make a really conscious decision to move on, it’s so easy to let what they’re doing on social media affect you - even when you think it doesn’t. If you didn’t have social media you’d restrain yourself from going around to his house to stalk him or call up his friends and find out who he’s dating, right? So try to exercise the same restraint online,” says Isiah.

Practise self-control by not clicking through if you see an update or pic of him posted online. Make your main focus on making you happy and also, being happy for him that he’s moving on with his life.