Healthy Social Media Habits after a Breakup

What’s worse than a breakup? If you’re recently heartbroken, you might say a breakup in the age of social media. While breakups have always been unpleasant, social media has made it more difficult to take the emotional space required to get over someone. Photos, likes and hearts can become unwanted reminders of what your ex is up to—and can mislead you into thinking their life is better without you.

Regardless of whether you were the one who ended things or not, having awareness and intention around your social media habits following a breakup can help you move on more quickly. Here are 5 ways to help heal your heart in the digital age.

Remind yourself that it’s not always what it seems.

We all understand this intellectually, but it bears repeating when going through a breakup: Social media is not real life. Social media pages are curated excerpts from our lives. We highlight the good stuff and fail to mention the bad. Your ex is no exception to this. If you catch a glimpse of your ex looking stress-free and beautiful, don’t assume it means they’re perfectly happy and over you. Don’t assume anything, except that you’re only seeing a snapshot of their full experience.

Take a break.

If you’re someone who can be on Facebook and resist the urge to sneak a peek at your ex’s page, more power to you. But if you’re like most people, the temptation is just too great—and not helpful. “This constant reminder of your ex only adds salt to the wound and makes the pain worse,” says Leonard Kim, author of The Etiquette of Social Media: How to Connect and Respond to Others in the World of Social Media. In the early days and weeks following a breakup, consider taking a hiatus from social media. In addition to speeding up your recovery process, it’ll leave you with more time to do things you enjoy.

Unfriend and unfollow.

When you’re ready to get back on social media, if you’re still feeling tender around your breakup, try unfriending or unfollowing your ex. This won’t prevent you from proactively going to their pages and viewing what’s publicly available, but it will stop their activity from being pushed to you. This means you can scroll through your newsfeed without being surprised by unwelcome updates about your ex. And over time, the desire to go out of your way to look at their content will lessen—out of sight, out of mind.

If you must, block.

Sometimes unfriending or unfollowing isn’t enough. “If your breakup was brutal, to the point where you never want to see each other again, sometimes you have to just block them across social media platforms,” says Kim. By eliminating the possibility of contact, you can stop spending mental energy on hoping it will or won’t happen, and focus solely on moving forward.

Don’t throw out the baby with the bathwater.

Social media after a breakup isn’t all bad. It can be a great source of support during a time when you might be feeling isolated or alone. “Social networks are an outlet for bringing up problems and having friends come to your side,” says Kim. “You can be vulnerable about your pain—without slamming your ex—and friends can ask you what’s wrong. It’s an opportunity to build closer bonds with loved ones who can offer support in your time of need.”