Going through a break-up? What not to do on social media when a relationship comes to an end

Rule number one: No drunk statuses

Olivia Blair
Monday 23 January 2017 10:49 GMT
(Getty istock)

Break-ups are never easy, but in the age of social media the complications increase ten-fold.

As we live out much of our life on Facebook, Snapchat and Instagram, the chances are your significant other regularly featured on your accounts. So, how are you supposed to play it when the relationship ends?

Firstly, there is the question of the ‘relationship status’ – or the first major giveaway for all your Facebook friends that you are newly on the market.

Then comes the issues of shared photos, stalking and the question of whether to unfriend both them and all their friends and family.

It can be hard to know what to do when you are feeling pretty rubbish anyway, so here's a handy guide of what not to do on social media during a breakup.

Relationship status

If you were someone who rushed to tell all your virtual pals you were in a relationship, you might be regretting that now. Even if you are in denial, it's probably best to change this - but when and how is up to you.

Changing it an hour after traumatically breaking up with someone is insensitive. Wait too long and it looks like you're holding out for a reconciliation.

Luckily, Facebook no longer insensitively informs your entire friend network when you're single, and you also have the option to hide your relationship status altogether so you can alter it on the downlow.

Additionally, if you change your status to 'single' or even 'divorced', Facebook gives you the option to 'take a break' from your ex meaning you can see less of them and their posts and limit someone's ability to see your posts.

To unfollow or unfriend?

When you are trying to get over someone, it is not exactly helpful to see their face cropping up every day. Therefore, it will probably help to just be selective and hide how much you see of them – which you can now do on most social platforms. Facebook lets you remain friends but hide their updates from your feed, for example. You can also mute people on Twitter without them knowing.

Nathaniel Cassidy, a PR and marketing expert from 3ManFactory, chose to treat his break-up with an ex-girlfriend of seven years like one of his clients, working with her to formulate a social media strategy.

“In my professional life I’m quite used to giving advice to organisations and individuals about how to handle crisis over social media," he told The Independent. "So I decided to treat the break up like a crisis management situation for a client. I didn’t want the additional heartache and headache, and I was acutely aware that social media might make the break-up all the more painful for the both of us, our families, and our friends."

Personally, he decided on hiding content rather than unfriending her or her family and friends: "If I unfriended or blocked people, was that sending a message? I didn’t want to send a message I just wanted to move on. I chose to just to hide content rather than disconnect from people. I didn’t want to send a message but I also didn’t want the unnecessary turmoil of seeing each other move on, or enjoying life, or feeling down.”

Be careful what you post

While social media can be a great creative outlet to share your musing thoughts, this definitely does not include a wine-fuelled status about how you have “NEVER FELT BETTER” in the immediate days or weeks after a break-up.

Also, avoid passive aggressive or inspirational quotes on Instagram. These are irritating at the best of times, let alone when there’s a message that you think is subtle but really is painstakingly obvious.

Shared pictures

Before social media, you could just throw away (or burn, depending on the circumstances of the break-up) old pictures of you and your former flame in the privacy of your own home. However, the backlog of profile pictures and Instagram posts are up there for everyone to see, so what do you do about that?

Mr Cassidy combated this by not removing anything, but just changing the settings on Timehop and Facebook memories, and untagging existing photos for a less cut-throat measure.

Avoid cyber stalking

Constantly looking at what your ex has been up to will never be a good idea, even if they are having a bad time. Stalking comes with many risks, for example jumping to conclusions after spotting them tagged in a photo with someone you have not seen before. Or, thinking they are completely over you just because they took one photo of themselves smiling at a party, when really they might have been crying in a corner up to and after that point.

On Instagram, especially, there is also now the risk of the accidental like. All it takes is for your thumb to slip to notify them that you scrolled back long enough to look at that photo from when they climbed the Sydney opera house on their gap year four years ago.

Of course, the main thing is to keep yourself busy, surround yourself with loved ones - and maybe don't spend so much time on social media.

Join our commenting forum

Join thought-provoking conversations, follow other Independent readers and see their replies


Thank you for registering

Please refresh the page or navigate to another page on the site to be automatically logged inPlease refresh your browser to be logged in