Social media can make healing from your divorce more difficult, but here are some tips to help you in the process.
The day my divorce from my ex-husband became official, Facebook made it more awful.
I was sitting in the courtroom, waiting with a lot of other people for the judge to arrive and pronounce us all divorced. I’d taken a lot of care getting dressed that morning because I was nervous. Other than the lawyers scattered about, I was very overdressed. The man in front of me was wearing a Hawaiian shirt and shorts. It was December.
I opened up Facebook. A “memory” popped up from exactly nine years before. “We’re engaged!” it read and included a picture of my left hand, wearing the ring I had put away months before. Yes, in a weird twist of fate, my ex-husband and I were getting divorced on the exact same day we’d also gotten engaged.
My stomach sunk, and I felt nauseous. Then we were all told to rise, and the judge entered.
Social media is a particularly difficult thing to handle following any major break-up, especially one that has spanned years. My ex and I had a pretty contentious divorce, so he had been blocked from all of my accounts for months, but it didn’t stop me from still receiving little reminders.
Memories popped up every day from over our years together: previous vacations, status updates that hadn’t explicitly mentioned him but were about him or reminded me of a time with him. Further, our mutual friends posted pictures from events that included him in them.
It didn’t matter that I’d left him and “blocked” him as best I could from my life. Social media still made him ever-present.
Once you get a divorce, you’ll need to decide how you want to handle your social media accounts. Here are some tips to help you do that.
1. Change your relationship status.
I once went on a couple of dates with a guy on Tinder who then added me on Facebook later. He hadn’t changed his relationship status. Over a YEAR later. His ex-wife was already re-married! (Believe me, I checked.)
“Uhh. Why does it still say you’re married?” I asked.
“I hardly ever use Facebook. How do I change it?”
It didn’t matter that I knew he was no longer married. It didn’t matter that he was willing to change it.
He should have changed it as soon as his divorce was official, and you should too. It’s the first step in moving on, both for yourself and your ex, and to anyone that comes after your ex.
2. Clean up your account.
Similar to #1, make sure your bio/profile, etc. is scrubbed of reference to your marriage or ex. Change your profile photo and cover photo to ones that don’t include you and your ex.
It’s then up to you what you decide to do with all of the photos you happen to have with your ex. In the past, you could have shoved all of the photos you had of you and your ex in a shoebox and stuck them in your closet. Now you might have hundreds of photos of you and your ex or of things you’d done together you have to sort through online.
I personally opted to delete my Facebook and Instagram accounts entirely. I’d had each of those accounts for over ten years, and nearly all of my photos were reminders of me and my ex. I went through, downloaded, and printed all of the photos I wanted to keep and then deleted the accounts.
I started new ones later. It was good for me because they felt like fresh starts.
3. Choose whether to keep your ex as a friend or unfollow, mute, block, etc. your ex.
If your divorce was amicable and you happen to have kids together, sure, stay friends/followers. But if you don’t want to see updates of every aspect of their life, think about unfollowing or muting all of their updates from your feed. It will allow you to be more choiceful about what you do and don’t see, which can be especially helpful in the healing process.
One thing I will note is that if you’re still hanging onto to any romantic feelings about your ex, it would be in your best interest to unfriend or unfollow them. We need space to heal, and social media can make that difficult.
You also might want to ask yourself before you make this decision: “How would I feel if I found out my ex was dating someone new today?” If on a scale of 1 (no reaction) to 10 (trapped in a closet hysterically sobbing for days), you’re anywhere between 4 and 10, then I suggest taking a break from being friends/followers for a bit. You can always revisit it later.
4. Don’t speak badly about your ex on social media.
You likely received advice from your attorney not to speak badly about your ex while you were separated, but you should consider continuing to take the high road after your divorce too. Also remember that your custody plans aren’t set in stone, so you never want to post anything online that your ex could use against you.
Instead of using social media to vent, find the people who can keep your confidence and tell them whatever you’d like to share with the world.
Divorce is already difficult enough without the added issue of being reminded of painful things from our past. Make sure you’re protected from that, and take steps to take care of you.
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