Technology and former flames don’t often mix well.
That was it. My partner and I needed to call it quits. For real this time.
Eight hours and two-thirds of a package of double-stuffed Oreos later, I sat on my bed obsessively checking his Facebook chat to see when he was last online.
It’s 11:30 pm and he hasn’t been online for three hours. He must have finally slept with that girl. I KNEW IT!
At midnight he came online, what a relief.
He must still care! We pledged not to speak, but I felt a deep telepathic connection to him through Facebook chat. I’m sure he saw that I was online.
He must have been trying to tell me something. Perhaps, that he doesn’t want to give up on us? That he takes back everything he said?
Although we didn’t speak that night, at one point I saw the moving ellipses, those three dots that show when someone is typing a response.
He started typing something and stopped. He must still love me.
Things continued this way for a couple weeks.
By “this way” I mean, not communicating with words, but feeling spiritually connected to my ex when I saw that he was online; keeping a close eye on his Instagram activity and reading way too much into his song choices on Spotify.
At one point he played Unbroken Chain by The Grateful Dead, and I spent far too long analyzing what that could possibly mean. Did I release him from the chain, but now he realized that it was unbroken!?
After much deliberation, I finally decided that the only way to move on was to delete him from social media. I teared up as I blocked him, thinking about how the last of our connection was online, and how insane it is that I can press a couple of buttons and have him be out of my life.
Fast forward a couple of weeks, and I’m starting to feel slightly better. I have started to replace Facebook stalking with Pilates and moved from listening to Dylan’s Blood on the Tracks to I’m a Survivor and No Scrubs back to back.
It was all going swimmingly until I got a message from his dog’s Instagram saying that he missed having sex with me. Drat, I forgot to delete the dog!
Hours later we were back in it, reminiscing about our best times, sharing sexy photos and describing exactly what we wanted to be doing to each other.
The art of the breakup
Technology has changed breakups tremendously. It makes it harder to disentangle, and much easier to slip, by providing users with seemingly endless ways to stay connected.
Although one may have the good judgment to decide that calling their ex is a bad idea, it may be more difficult to resist viewing their Instagram stories, diligently checking when they are online or overanalyzing their choice of Spotify song.
It is not all bad. Since so much of our lives are now virtual, we now have more power than ever to control our reality. We don’t have the ability to click ignore or block if you see your ex in the bar, but there are measures that you can take to control your online environment.
My advice on how to deal with technology wisely during a breakup:
1. Stay away from your ex on social media
Research shows that online surveillance of an ex delays moving on, makes you feel more negative towards them, and more likely to experience sexual desire for them. Put together, it’s a clusterfuck.
Assuming you still have strong feelings about your ex and they actively use social media, the best way to take control over the breakup process is to take a pause in your social media connection.
Instead of staying connected to your ex through Facebook, Instagram, or Snapchat and passively observing their lives, communicate with them through email or text. This will lead to more intentional conversation, as you will actually need to have something to say, and less accidental lapses in judgment and overanalyzing of unclear messages.
Facebook just came out with a new algorithm that comes into place once someone’s breakup is Facebook official. Users have the ability to limit how much of their ex’s posts they see and how much of their post’s their ex see without having to block them.
On Instagram, you can choose to unfollow your ex as well as block them from seeing your profile. Or you can continue to let them follow you, but block their ability to see your stories. Similarly to the new Facebook algorithm, what is good about Instagram is that one person could theoretically continue to follow their ex but their ex doesn’t have to follow them back.
I would suggest that for at least 30 days, you unfollow your ex and utilize the Facebook Algorithm so that you see as few reminders of your them as possible.
There are no cold hard rules here. Healing is different for everyone and advice that works for someone may not resonate with someone else. I had a friend who decided to delete her ex on Instagram and Facebook but enjoyed feeling connected by viewing her song choices on Spotify.
This technique protected her from communicating too soon or seeing her ex potentially meet someone new. But it helped her discover new songs and gave her a way to spend a couple of minutes a day feeling connected to her ex.
Did it delay her healing? It is hard to say, but it seemed to bring her joy and not sadness, so who’s to say it’s unhealthy.
3. Be thorough
If you decide disentangling from your ex on social media is the right move, be meticulous.
I recently had a shock when my ex’s dad added a picture of him with his new girlfriend. Think about the people that you met through your ex and the cost/benefit of staying connected versus not.
Researchers suggest creating a “Pandora’s Box” with all the digital evidence of your relationship with your ex.
You may regret it if you delete everything, but accidental reminders of love lost will not help with healing. Save all your pornos, cute phone pics and emails into one folder while you cool off.
Tech for better breakups
On the other hand, technology is also actively helping people mend their broken heart with apps that give clear and practical tips for dealing with emotional turmoil.
Breakup Boss, running at $6, helps people get over their breakup by giving them tips to deal with common post-breakup emotions to help users feel less alone, pushes users to engage in healthy constructive activities, and even creates potentially healing activities like writing your ex an impassioned letter (but not sending it).
There is also an app called, Hit the Ex where you get to pick the little animated fella (there are no female options!) that looks most like your ex and beat them up with different weapons, I’m not going to lie, it was fairly entertaining.
Finally, when you’re ready there also this app, not sure if you’ve heard of it, called Tinder.
Image sources: StockSnap