Kyle from Kansas writes: “I just broke up with my ex about two weeks ago. We are trying to give each other distance, but I can’t help but cyber-stalk his social media counts. Should I unfollow?”
Every break-up is different, Kyle, so there isn’t one sure answer. However, we’d you have to ask, then our answer is yes. It sounds like you are having trouble disconnecting from him so you can truly heal, and social media is such a strong presence in our lives that until you make the virtual separation, it may never feel like you are truly apart.
An “unfollow” is merely the process of removing the presence of your ex from your direct line of sight, which is a must if you actually intend to get over him any time soon. An “unfollow’ is not an “unfriend,” which can seem more directed and final. It can also cause more headaches between you and your former partner, prompting questions and drawing out an argument.
In our experience, there are two distinct parts of a breakup that you must manage carefully: the emotional and the logical. Eventually, the logical side always wins, but it is the emotional side that causes the most pain in the short term.
You might think that you and your ex can be friends, but your emotional side probably cannot handle it for quite a few months, if not years. Without an “unfollow,” you leave your emotional side exposed to your ex’s future posts of happy pictures, mystery men, and cryptic messages. And if you don’t remove this emotional trigger, your emotional self may just convince your logical side that you made the wrong choice. You didn’t.
Getting over an ex is like trying to stop eating sweets. Your body says you want him, but your brain knows it is unhealthy. You have to relearn how to function without something you relied on so heavily. If you don’t remove him completely from your visible world while you go through withdrawal, you are setting yourself up for a relapse.
If you truly want to be friends with your ex, then you have got to put some serious distance between the two of you first. There is no magic number of days, months, or years it will take. Your logical side will just know when it’s right because your emotional side won’t start to gag at the thought of your ex with a new man.
If an “unfollow” is not enough to remove the temptation to creep on his life, by all means, “unfriend,” block, or take a break from social media altogether. Don’t waste time feeling bad that you couldn’t be an adult about it. Just do whatever it takes to free yourself from the sadistic “woulda, coulda, shoulda” that social media is designed to incite.
You might never be able to be real-life friends again, but you most certainly can exist in the same cyberspace when the emotions subside. But if you are contemplating whether to “unfriend” or “unfollow,” just do it already. Your emotional side will thank you later.