My first real break-up crushed me. My heart was torn apart. In my panic and deep sadness, I felt myself suffocating and grasping for reminders of a beating heart, of a heart that felt serene and supple, but instead I felt desolate and abandoned. It was not pretty.
In the days following my breakup, I would go down to the basement and pour my heart out as I wrote in my journal, word by word tear by tear. I stashed all of our mementos in a keepsake box. I saved everything in this box – photos, a strange looking stuffed dragon that he had won at a fair, movie tickets, cards, cute notes. All of it was held safely, in my box, in my basement.
This was a breakup pre-Facebook.
Yup that’s right, once upon a time, in a land far far away, break-ups were done in person, and the mourning of that loss, was done off-line. Memory boxes are now replaced by Facebook albums and love notes come in the form of status updates, retweets, and a cute picture of you two on instagram with a hashtag and the word love. Times are changing in this new age of technology and social networking, and with that so are relationships and breakups. Therefore, how we heal must change too.
Break-ups have always been hard. Some are downright shattering. It’s a time where you may feel vulnerable, lonely, afraid, sad, scared. Some leave you scraping the ground looking for your breath and balance. So what happens when in this midst of all of this pain you not only have to deal with your feelings but also a public forum with access to your relationship status, a timeline of your love affair, AND to boot, a news feed updating you of your ex’s new life in the raw days following your heartache? The key elements in travailing this odyssey online or offline include honoring yourself, having healthy boundaries, keeping things positive, and having good communication.
Here are some tips to cope with a breakup, in the online world, in an emotionally intelligent and healthy way.
- Facebook Agreement: Some breakups are amicable others are more dramatic. In either case, if possible, communicate with your ex your requests with how to go about the break-up. It is not possible to know ultimately what your ex will decide to do, in his social media world, but you can at the least communicate your desires on what you want the breakup process to look like online. Above all, respect each others feeling and omit posting status updates or photos that rub lime juice all over the open wounds.
- Think Before You Tweet: The old saying goes, ‘think before you speak,’ now we can convert that to “think before you tweet”. When feelings are running high and pacing frantically on their own accord, we tend to react and not act consciously. A good rule of thumb is to take a deep breath and think about your future wiser self looking back in that moment. Would she be proud and happy with posting that or will she be embarassed and regret it? If she would cringe, opt for writing it in your journal. Keep your social media positive and clean of all rantings. That’s what your journal is for, to curse him out. If you feel the urge to express something on Facebook or Twitter go for a quote like, “With every ending dawns a new beginning.” Take the high road.
- Social Media Cleanse: You can’t control what others do, but you can control what you do and what you subscribe to. Focus on what you can be proactive about. In the days following your breakup, honor what your needs are and honor how sensitive this time is for you. Delete your ex from Facebook if need be, unfollow him from Instagram and Twitter. Do a social media cleanse from all that may trigger your sore heart. A breakup used to be done in private and just because social media is around, doesn’t mean that your psyche and spirit still don’t need that sacred healing time to mourn. You won’t be able to mourn and heal if you are bombarded by what your ex is up to. So do yourself a favor and unsubscribe from the drama. Your mental health and heart will thank you.
- Establish Online-Boundaries: Healthy boundaries means saying what your needs, wants, and desires are to make you feel safe. Online we must also establish boundaries. You may have mutual friends in common, family members of his/hers on your Facebook and Twitter lists. Depending on the nature of your break-up there might be some difficult decisions to make. Do you delete his mom, cousin, best friend? Do you tell your best friends and parents to delete him from their friends lists? The truth is, every situation is different and requires different boundaries. Just as in real life everyone has different things that make them feel comfortable and uncomfortable. A good question to ask yourself is “What do I need in this moment to heal in a healthy way?” You can unsubscribe from his family/friends news feed so you don’t see updates. And you can make requests from your friends, if you feel that is best.
- Posting Prevention: Let’s take some wisdom from this wound. So before you go into another relationship, think about what you want to keep off-line. Take some time to think about what you want to post in the social media world. Remember to think long term and not impulsive and short term.
Remember, we may not be able to prevent the pain and heartache of a break-up but we can ensure that there is less of a mess to complicate matters. And remember, this is about your healing. So, opt to put YOU first-today and always!
Christine Gutierrez is a psychotherapist, advice columnist, speaker, author, poet, and founder of Christineg.tv an online hub that features psychologically-savvy and soulful advice, articles, videos, private consultations, workshops, retreats (both live and virtual), radio appearances, and television projects. “Ancient wisdom with a modern twist” is the motto. She has been featured in TimeOut NY Magazine, Latina Magazine as “The Future 15: The Healer,” Yahoo Health, Ebony Magazine, Cosmopolitan for Latinas, The Conversation, Cosmopolitan Magazine, Ricki Lake, Lifetime TV, and more. You can also follow Christine on Twitter and Facebook and Instagram And sign up for her weekly newsletter at: www.christineg.tv. Want a free 15 minute consultation call? Click here to set it up!
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Image courtesy of Viktor Hanacek.