Should You Delete All Traces Of Your Ex After A Breakup? 5 Reasons To Wipe Your Social Slate Clean
Is it possible to talk about healing after a breakup without Natasha Bedingfield's "Unwritten" playing in the background? Whether you're one day or six months post-breakup — a bop that reminds you to be open to the world of possibilities around you and of course, to feel the rain on your skin, is literally self-care. After cleaning up every physical reminder, dropping your ex's fav sweatshirt at Goodwill, and putting your sheets in the wash, it can be hard to know, should you delete all social media traces of your ex after a breakup?
The feelingless Capricorn, phone-skeptic, hippie-dad in me is pretty unyielding on this: When you've ended things, it's time to unfriend, unfollow, and unwind. If you need more convincing, you know my earth sign a*s did the research. I reached out to Dr. Gary Brown, a prominent dating and relationship expert in Los Angeles, about cutting yourself off from your ex's internet presence, and why it's important to wipe your social slate clean.
When asked directly if you should unfollow you ex on all social media, Dr. Brown's response is equally direct. "Absolutely yes, for at least 90 days. This will be hard but not as hard as trying to cling on to a relationship that is over. Unfollow, unfriend and block. I also recommend stop following newsfeeds of mutual friends for the same reason."
Going so far as to unfollow mutual friends as to not see what your ex-bae is doing, Dr. Brown attests there are many reasons to delete all traces of your boo, after your breakup.
1. You need time!
A relationship ending can often be physically and emotionally draining. If you're constantly seeing pictures or videos of your ex, it's hard to redirect your attention to yourself and your healing.
"You need time to heal from a loss," Dr. Brown tells Elite Daily. "It is so much more difficult to grieve when you are constantly exposed to reminders of your ex. This is especially true regarding social media."
If every other scroll you see your ex's friends, or your ex's face, it's hard to give yourself the time and space you need to properly process the end of the relationship.
2. You need space!
There's a scene in Friends where Ross accuses Rachel of "having no sentiment" to which Rachel responds by pulling out an old shoe box full of little trinkets from their breakup. With Apple Wallet and GrubHub, perhaps ticket stubs from concerts or matchboxes from restaurants aren't as relevant to dating today, yet there's a lot to be said about keeping digital and physical keepsakes, after breaking up.
"It is perfectly ok to want to remember your relationship with physical keepsakes but I do offer one specific guideline: take all of your physical keepsakes (concert tickets, an item of clothing, framed pictures) and place them in a box. Close the lid and don't open the box for three months. If you want to open the box after a few months, go ahead," Dr. Brown shares.
But can we keep voicemails or photos? "This is tricky," Dr. Brown says. "Much of the answer depends upon how the relationship ended and what the nature of the relationship was. If your ex was toxic, mean, abusive — then, yes — wipe any electronic fingerprints."
If you find your ex is still taking up space, either in your bedroom or on your phone — it may be healthy to put reminders of them away for a while. If you can hide the physical shoe box in the back of your closet, think of ways you can do the same for the virtual stuff, like sending your pics to an external hard drive, or taking a well deserved Instagram break.
3. You need to heal!
The number one thing you need to focus on in a breakup is you. Putting your own wellbeing first may mean cutting out your ex for a bit.
"It's important to not see everything your ex is doing because it is very likely only going to prolong your pain and suffering," Dr. Brown says. "Being constantly exposed to them on social media is likely to be extremely hurtful to you — and especially if they are now hooking up with, dating, or now living with someone else. You really have to ask yourself if it is in the best interests of your emotional well-being to watch your ex."
If you're constantly looking at your ex's page trying to see if they're dating again or finally letting their hair grow (like you always told them they should), you're not letting yourself heal. Focusing too much on your boo can keep you from focusing on yourself.
4. There are better ways to process.
Listen to "Unwritten" 50 times and sign up for a French class. Try to cut your own hair, and then find a new salon with a cool hairdresser that can help fix your D.I.Y. layers. When you put the phone down, there are a million ways to heal post-breakup that don't include seeing what old bae is up to.
"The healthiest things you can do are to hang out with friends. Start writing a journal so that you can gain some perspective about why this relationship ended," Dr. Brown says. "Don't focus on blaming yourself. Think more in terms of what lessons you learned about yourself. What do you want in a relationship and, as importantly, what don't you want in a relationship."
Spending time with friends and family and thinking about what you want from future relationships can be healthy ways to heal after a breakup.
5. The best TLC is IRL
When you're hurting, the best thing may be some face to face time with those you love.
"Instead of spending your time on social media, you will likely do much better spending time with people in person. At the very least, spend some time on the phone actually talking to people," Dr. Brown says. "Yes. I know. You may want to just spend your time in bed with your comforter over your head. Small doses of that might be ok, but right about now you could probably benefit from more direct human contact. Being seen, heard, touched, and held will likely do you so much more good than stalking your ex on SM."
Letting your friends take care of you can be a huge step in starting to heal. Whether it's over food, over wine, or over a sad movie (or all three), spending time with people who you know love you will make you feel better than wondering why your ex hasn't watched your latest Insta story. Of course, hiding in your bed can help too.
There is no answer to the post-breakup blues. Though it may help the healing to do a full internet cleanse, if you get drunk in a hot tub at an AirBnB in New Hampshire with your high school friends over winter break and start looking at your ex's tagged photos and crying (me), that's OK. The most important part of a breakup is remembering that you are loved by so many people. Phones or no phones, you're going to get through this. One play of "Unwritten" at a time.