In an ideal world, no one would ever need to unfollow anyone else on Instagram. Similarly, in an ideal world, every neighbor you lived next to would be a perfect neighbor. But we do not live in an ideal world, and just like you sometimes need to gently tell your neighbor that blasting Metallica at 3 a.m. on a Tuesday isn't chill, you sometimes need to unfollow Justin Timberlake when you realize how un-woke he really is post-Golden Globes. When it comes to people you've dated, though, what's the etiquette? Should you unfollow your ex on Instagram?
There are different reasons to unfollow someone on Instagram: angry ones, passive-aggressive ones, necessary ones, unnecessary ones, self-protective ones, and even accidental ones. Ideally, you're not drunk when you make the decision, but when in the throes of a breakup, wine happens.
I used to decry any type of unfriending or unfollowing as "immature" and "impolite" but then I got my heart broken a few times and realized that is not always the case. I'm a proud unfollower; it's a necessary step for me to move on. That said, you might feel differently. Here are some considerations to make before hitting that "unfollow" button.
Is It A Spiteful, "Suck it!" Unfollow?
If your sole goal in unfollowing your ex-partner, lover, or naked friend is to make them angsty and prompt a text from them asking, "Did you unfollow me?" then maybe think twice about how productive this unfollow will actually be. If this sounds like you, first off, it sounds to be like this tumultuous relationship with your ex-whatever is a good one for you to be done with. If you're just looking for a reaction with your unfollow, hang on to that Insta-friend. Then, take a deep breath and pat yourself on the back for being a grown up.
Is It An Ambiguous, "Who Cares?" Unfollow?
If you were the one to break up with your ex, or if you are simply feel neutral about your ex these days, why bother with all of the drama of clicking unfollow? Yes, your ex's obnoxious captions to their ski trip may drive you up the wall, but you don't have to double-tap that photo. Or, you could, if you really want to be the bigger person. (Though I find that being the bigger person is usually overrated and actually pretty stifling.)
Is It A Self-Protective, "Band-Aid" Unfollow?
My most recent unfollow happened last year and it was all about protecting my heart, no matter how uncool I looked. The victim of the unfollow was someone I dated and stayed friends with for far too long after he moved away. When he ended up with a girlfriend, I was depleted and depressed. When they became Instafficial, I clicked unfollow. It was too painful to see, because I had more feels for him than I realized.
Unfortunately, his account was public, so I checked up on him regularly, and the unfollow didn't really change anything except that I couldn't watch his stories without looking like a creep. I checked his Instagram recently, as he is an avid liker of my posts, and he is now private, which is incredibly helpful. I probably could stomach the photos by now, but why should I do that to myself, you know? We've been in touch via text as friends, and I know that by now he knows I don't follow him, but understands why.
If you're thinking about protecting your heart with an unfollow, ask yourself:
1. Is my ex public on Instagram? Because then there is no point, you know how to stealthily search their handle.
2. Does my ex have that app that tells you when someone follows you? Because the goal is that they do not notice your unfollow, so maybe don't if you think your ex has it.
3. Is this going to make me feel better, or just go crazier stalking their Venmo for signs of how their relationship is doing? Because sometimes facing the truth only hurts for a bit, and ripping off the bandage is the fastest way to get over the pain.
You'll make the right decision for you if you prioritize protecting your feels.
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