How to handle a breakup online

Getty Images

Face-to-face breakups are hard to do, but it gets much more messy when your relationship has become part of everyone’s social media newsfeed.

So you’ve broken up. Now how do you go about making that clear to everyone you know on social media?

Whether it’s changing your Facebook profile picture or relationship status (it’s complicated!), awkward unfriending, or not knowing how to deal with the onslaught of Twitter and Instagram updates from your ex, you need to be aware of how your actions will be perceived.

We spoke to online dating expert Julia Spira for her top seven tips on how to manage a breakup online.

1. Discuss a plan of action with your ex: “Most couples have created a permanent digital footprint of photos, relationship statuses, and shared a lot about their coupledom during their happy days,” says Spira. “Have a conversation with your new-ex about being on the same digital page.” Let them know that you plan on removing your relationship status, or changing your images so they have a heads up. It’s the mature thing to do rather than finding out that you’ve blocked them, or removed them from your social media feeds.

2. Avoid making a huge announcement via social: The main reason for this is that you don’t want to make friends and family uncomfortable. There’s nothing more awkward for people than for them to see your passive aggressive status updates and and oversharing. “Change your photo from the shot of the two of you as your primary shot to one of just you or even one of a photo or avatar as a placeholder until you decide on your new profile photo.

3. Remove your relationship status silently:
“Make sure you change your status from “In a Relationship” to no status at all. This isn’t time to suddenly announce your single status as emotions are at an all-time high,” says Spira.

4. Don’t act on impulse: “Rather than deleting your photos on social media, change the privacy settings to “only me” instead of “friends” or “public.” This way you aren’t removing your history entirely, but are just moving it to a holding place until you decide if you want to untag your former sweetie in group shots or not,” says Spira.

5. Avoid negative triggers online:
“If seeing your ex’s new life without you will make you uncomfortable, unfriend them, but let them know why beforehand,” says Spira. If you are still amicable, tell him or her it’s temporary until enough time has gone by and the digital dust has settled. If the breakup didn’t end well, do your best to take care of yourself. Unfollow and remove your ex from your friends list, or even block them, if seeing your ex’s updates (and who’s liking their posts) makes you angry, jealous or upset.

6. Don’t be territorial: Avoid liking and commenting on your former flame’s stuff online if it’s over. People see through that. Give it time. People will assume you’re trying to be territorial and it’s not a good look. Worst of all, your ex will know your intentions, which will push him or her away. Let your ex and yourself move forward by avoiding not-so-subtle social behavior online.

7. Don’t make a scene:
“Don’t post photos of you at fabulous restaurants even without a new date in the picture. It will accomplish nothing other than to make the other person feel that you’ve moved on before them,” says Spira. “Once you do get re-involved, take time before coming out as a new couple online and let your ex know that you’re in a new relationship, so they don’t find out from friends or friends-of-friends on Facebook,” she adds. 

Jen Kirsch of

Dusty Fields

I like baseball, camping and being out on the lake in my boat. My dog Sparky loves it too! Make sure you follow me on Twitter, Facebook and Pinterest by clicking on the tabs.

Dusty Fields has 768 posts and counting. See all posts by Dusty Fields