Four Women Answer: “Do You Unfollow Exes on Social Media?”

Ah, the eternal question: Should I unfollow my ex on Instagram?

Okay maybe it’s not eternal, but it is definitely a sign of modern breakups.

Here’s what I think.  I strongly believe that if you want to move on as quickly as possible, you need to unfollow in the short term. You can always re-follow if you want to be friends later, and I believe any friend worth having would understand this need for space to get your bearings. This is actually the solution backed up by addiction research, but I know a lot of people don’t follow this advice for various reasons. 

In the past, for me, it was pride that kept me from un-following. The inner dialogue there being: “Obviously I am totally fine and doing so well after our breakup because I am still following you on Instagram…look at how great I’m doing…I’m even liking these pictures that are actually making me die a little inside…!”

I talked to three other friends about how they deal with exes and social media, and here’s what they said: 

Friend #1:

“Not even kidding, was JUST talking about this last night. I think I fall in your camp.

I think it’s a personal decision, so it’s hard to tell someone what’s the right and wrong thing to do for them given the situation and the relationship. but I know that for me, when I was pseudo breaking up recently, I was all about the deleting/unfollowing. and it kind of helped me feel more in control in the “I DGAF what it looks like, I’m gonna unfollow you and don’t need you to chime in about my decisions sort of way.”

But, one thing to keep in mind is that on Insta, even if you block someone, you can still see what they post if you can’t fight the urge to lurk. and that sucked and was too tantalizing to resist.

That is my gut reaction/response. Unfollow//delete//delete//delete!”

Friend #2:

“Such a great question! I would have to say it’s going to depend on the person’s personality and attachment system. For me, for example, knowing that I’m more anxious than others, the best and healthiest approach would probably be to un-friend/unfollow because the more I see posted about that POI, the more I want to see them again. It makes me crave intimacy and remember all the ‘good times.’ Not the best result. On the other hand, usually if I’m the one doing the breaking-up, I feel more secure in my decision and seeing their activity on social networks isn’t all that painful.

I guess a great option is blocking the other person so they don’t think you’re being dramatic by cutting them off. You also don’t want to post incessantly just to appear in their stream and thus look pathetic slash lonely…It’s a hard balance to achieve.”

Friend #3:

“In the past I’ve taken the route of “liking” every freaking Instagram post, thinking it proved how over I was about everything, even though I hated it all/I was digging a deeper emotional wound. Pride is a killer. I now would “unfollow” and delete everything. I know personally for me, that the best way for me to heal is not to become saturated in what was and force myself to move on.

For others I think that is a deeply personal decision and varies based on the relationship and temperament of the person. I would encourage a complete social purge of an ex to a friend but understand in certain cases why that probably won’t happen or will happen later in the future (I think most do eventually over time).”

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