Lauren, 20, just wanted the freedom to move on from her recent breakup. She dreaded having to rehash the split over and over to friends who’d inevitably ask how her boyfriend was doing. “I wanted people to know I was single, not necessarily to put myself on the market, but just because I feel like they should have the right to know,” she tells Elite Daily. So, two weeks after things ended, Lauren subtly announced the breakup via Instagram Stories, by sharing a photo of herself on her laptop with the caption #singlelife.
As she expected, the photo elicited surprised reactions from friends. “A lot of people responded to it just being surprised that we broke up,” she recalls. "I got a lot of, 'OMG,' and, 'Are you OK?'" Still, she had clear and thought-out reasons for posting that photo. “I’m not going to go around announcing to every girl/guy I see in person that I’m single,” she explains. This was more efficient — not to mention, kind of fun. “I also wanted to stir the pot a little.”
When you get into a new relationship, it’s common to introduce your partner on social media — in many cases, it legitimizes the relationship in the eyes of friends and followers. But when a relationship ends, there’s no clear course of action for how to clue people in. Some exes delete all traces of each other on their Instagram feeds. Others leave old photos untouched and never make an announcement at all. But occasionally, people disclose their breakups publicly on Instagram, with varying levels of detail about why things didn’t work out. You might have seen this play out for celebrities — for example, many former Bachelor couples do this — but regular folks are starting to come on board, too.
This strategy gets the word out quickly, eliminating the need to tell people IRL about your heartbreak. But it has some disadvantages, as well — namely, it involves other people in your love life, whether or not you asked for their point of view. “Generally speaking, you do not need to make a public announcement about your breakup,” explains breakup coach and dating strategist Natalia Juarez. “No matter how well you try to craft your caption, your post will invite a multitude of opinions." Juarez agrees it can help eliminate awkwardness — but it isn’t the only way to move on.
Instead, Juarez suggests taking a clean break from using social media following a breakup. Going cold turkey might feel like too much, but at least make sure you're not dwelling on old pictures of you and your ex, or trying to stay constantly aware of what your ex is up to. “Once [you] do come back on, it's best to remove intimate photos of you and your ex, as well as any other images that are emotionally painful,” Juarez says. “And if you do post, keep it light. Refrain from cryptic, posts with double meaning, or over-the-top inspirational quotes.” If your ex is posting negative things about you, don’t feel the need to retaliate. Juarez cites the iconic Michelle Obama quote to bring this point home: “When they go low, we go high.”
If you really want your good friends to find out quickly, you could also share the news via Instagram’s Close Friends feature, which limits the number of people who can view your story to a small, curated list. You can also just call or text your friends to let them know. “Tell your inner circle and other people you need to tell,” Juarez says. “They can help spread the word on your behalf. Other people may get the message, and for those that are clueless, if they do ask, simply let them know you and your ex aren't together anyone for personal reasons, and then change the topic.” You don’t have to give anyone more detail than you’re comfortable sharing. Remember that this is your breakup and your healing process, and the only one who can truly understand that is you.
Whatever you do, make sure you’ve thought out what you’re going to post, if anything. The last thing you want is to share something in the heat of an emotional moment that you might later regret. Nancy, 26, remembers seeing a friend post about her breakup publicly one night, only to take down the posts the following morning. “My friend announced that her boyfriend was cheating and back on dating apps, and posted on her stories and her grid calling him a liar,” she tells Elite Daily. The couple ultimately worked things out, but the memory of those posts still lingers among some followers. “She hasn’t posted [with] him anymore, and if anyone comments about it, she gets super defensive,” Nancy says. It’s easy to delete an Instagram story or post, but that doesn’t mean the people in your life will forget it.
The decision to announce your breakup on Instagram mostly comes down to your reason for posting. Consider whether this decision will benefit your happiness down the road, and then choose what feels right. For Lauren, her breakup post did exactly what she’d hoped for — it told the people in her life about her single status. "It did the job," she says. "This isn't really the kind of news that spreads like wildfire, so I figured I should just get the news out quickly and efficiently. It worked, and no one was hurt in the process!"
Not every breakup 'gram has a happy ending like Lauren's, though. If you’re only looking for instant gratification — to let off steam and vent about your ex — you might one day come to regret your post. But if you've thought this through and are ready to share your news of your split with your followers, go for it. After all, a picture is worth a thousand words.