The Unofficial Rules of Breaking Up In the Digital World

These practical rules will help you get on the road to a happy, single you in record time.
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Monica Gabriel Marshall
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These practical rules will help you get on the road to a happy, single you in record time.
breakup-etiquette

We all know the drill when it comes to calling it quits—and meaning it. T. Swift said it best: “We are never getting back together—like never.” So we gather every artifact we can get ahold of—T-shirts, photos, jewelry (if you were lucky), plane tickets—and auction them off to the highest bidder or return them if that feels like the kinder thing to do. Then we delete our ex from our phone contacts and hunker down to weather through the inevitable rush of regret. Fierce exercise (or, really, chocolate) comes in handy every time we start to think, “Good God, what have I done?!”

The standard "burn everything" breakup advice is all well and good if your ex literally drops off the edge of the earth after your breakup. But in reality there are a lot more rules than “don’t make contact” that must be followed if you want a clean break. Social media, physical proximity, and mutual friends are just a few of those irritating complications that present themselves post-breakup (and can’t simply be tossing in the fire or solved by eating chocolate bon-bons). These six practical rules will help you make a clean break and get on the road to a happy, single you in record time.

01. Not dating in real life means not dating on Facebook.

You would think that this would be a no brainer, but that's not always the case. Believe it or not, there are plenty of people who seem to think that their cyber relationship can continue to live on after the real thing has been terminated. There's no point in all that memory-purging if you continue to get Facebook newsfeed updates from your ex on a regular basis. There is also the torment caused by an ex continuing to “like” your Facebook statuses when he was the one who said it was “over.” That is just not fair. We recommend hiding your relationship status and then un-friending him. Un-friending your ex doesn’t mean you wish him ill will; it just means you need some distance to move on.

02. Resist the urge to “check in” with mutual friends.

We know how hard this can be. Just because things are over doesn’t mean you miraculously stop caring about him. But, despite your good intentions, curiosity kills the cat. Checking in to see how things are faring with your ex only complicates things, as word inevitably gets back to him and and news—good or bad—will make it hard for him and hard for you. The same thing goes in reverse: If his friends or family start to ask you questions, politely decline to discuss and cite your desire to not dwell on your relationship for now. If they don't take a hint after the first time, not responding is perfectly acceptable!

03. Spread the word.

In the world of Facebook and Instagram stalking, close friends aren't the only ones who keep tabs on your love life. When you're ready, ask friends to pass on the word that you're now in Splitsville. This helps prevent the awkward, “Oh… you haven’t heard I guess…” conversations with friends you don’t talk to every day.

04. Pay attention to RSVPs.

Be kind to yourself and your ex and skip events where the two of you will be together, especially if you are the one who ended things. For the first couple of months, whoever RSVPs first gets to go and hopefully your friends will be considerate when they put together their guest lists.

05. Don’t send secret signals.

You might be all broken up inside and wish your ex knew just how much hurt he has caused, but resist the urge to send coded messages via tweets, Snapchats, or even playlists on Spotify. If you’re going to make a breakup playlist, go ahead—just make it private. And consider unfollowing his music activity, too. Sending subliminal music messages still breaks the golden rule of breakups: no contact.

06. Filter his emails.

If the relationship ended badly, you may want to have all his emails automatically sent to the trash.  Another option is to filter his emails into a special folder so that they skip the inbox. Gmail makes this super easy to do. At least then if he decides to reach out via email, you get to decide if or when to read the message without it hitting the top of your inbox and potentially disturbing your day.

07. Do the wallowing ASAP.

After you have had a good cry, open your email chains, scroll through your text history, and then delete them all. It’s easy to forget about all the memories technology holds until we are tempted to wallow days or even weeks after we have ended things. The kind thing to do for yourself is to remove the temptation so you can move on. And trust us, it may take time, but you will be able to move forward, heal, and start a fresh relationship with yourself. You got this, girl!