Love Is Gone: Break Ups and Divorces in the Age of Social Media

break up on social mediaOne of the social media fitness trainers I follow has recently decided to end her relatively long marriage. Her viewers have perceived her as a happily married family woman until she’s announced the split. Now, a month later we already see her posting photo shoots with her next beau.
This isn’t to say she’s taken the split lightly or she’s moved on quickly but just to show how little we know about what’s really happening with people we see on social media.
One of the things she’s said in the wake of the said divorce is that her and her husband have been living as flatmates for years but she’s kept a brave face for social media. This just shows how much pressure social media puts not only or public figures but on us all.

#englishrosiee has written about how to approach the issue of announcing a relationship on Facebook in her post F.B.(N.)O. And sure, if it’s a brand new relationship rather be cautious because it’s not so nice to announce a start of a relationship one day and two months later have to share the news about its end. Even if you’re not so sure about your feelings for a relatively long time, you can just keep quiet about it on social media.
It becomes much more complicated, however, to keep it private when a relationship looks serious. After all, your significant other is likely to literally be in your space, if you live together.
Let’s even say, you’ve decided not to share the pictures of the two of you on social media. Guess what? People will tag you on pictures and often, seeing that you’re likely to be out and about with your partner. In other words, you don’t have to be one of the social media attention seekers to end up telling the world that you’re in a relationship.

Of course, a simple solution to that dilemma is just not being on social media at all. As I’ve discussed in my post on how to handle social media, you may simply stop looking for the right room and leave the building by becoming a social media recluse.
There are plenty of resources to see whether you’re dealing with a social networking addiction but if it’s not the case for you, why not to use social media wisely rather than throw the baby out with the bathwater?
Because very often it’s just easier not to share at all than to fight with your temptation on what you share. There’s a theory that some people are abstainers and others moderators so once you figure out for yourself, which one you are, it may be easier to say whether moderate social media use is even an option for you.
Even if it isn’t, most people are simply unwilling to go that far as disappear from social media. What’s more, many people in a relationship don’t feel they want to be someone’s dirty little secret and that doesn’t only include PDA but also being present on social media of their partner.

What’s the solution then for long term couples, seeing that it seems difficult to simply hide the fact that you’re married and/or with kids on social media? Probably the only thing you can do to avoid shaming somewhere down the line is to avoid being smug. Share your happiness but don’t smudge your air of superiority in other people’s faces. Skip posts about how amazing your marriage is, starting with “I see so many couples that [insert what you’re smug about] but for me [brag about how much better your marriage is], how motherhood is an absolute must to keep a family together or hashtags about people who run together/laugh together/work together etc staying together.
You know today what you know today, tomorrow it may turn out that running marathons with your SO hasn’t prevented him or her from banging a coworker or experimenting with tantric sex poses with their yoga teacher.
I’m not saying it to make you obsess about it but rather to point out that relationships and marriages sometimes fail and if yours is doing alright, good for you, but it doesn’t make you a better person. 

Apart from not being smug, if you see that your long term relationship or marriage is about to end, you can use a technique that I’ve seen some people using. Namely, what I call, a social media romance withdrawal.
Very often once you hear about someone’s break up/divorce or even see their new relationship announcement on social media when you’ve been sure they are dating someone else, you go through their feed. Then it turns out that they haven’t been posting pictures with their ex for a while.
Whatever you do, it’s good to let people know eventually that you and your partner are no longer together, if you’re active on social media. Why? Because you don’t want to receive messages from not super close friends and acquaintances telling you they saw him/her with someone else, thinking he/she is cheating on you. You also don’t want people gossiping behind your back or making it awkward for you when you’re on a date with your new love prospect.

All of the above, are a good idea if you’re the kind of person who doesn’t like to be vulnerable or who withdraws into themselves when something such sad as a break-up happens to them. That was me in the past and in general I don’t trust people and I find them often judgemental and horrible (I’m working on it!), when shit hits the fan.
There’s something positive to say for vulnerability on social media, though. When an ex-colleague of mine posted on Facebook that her 7 year long relationship ended as her partner not only cheated on her but also announced he wanted to be with that person, good things started to happen to her. All of a sudden women, with whom she hadn’t even been close, started to share their own experiences with her and inviting her for coffee, beer and sugar rush dates as well as parties. All that to make her feel better.
Another acquaintance of mine after a similar announcement ended up getting a friend for life as they bonded over their respective divorce nightmares.
It just shows that not everyone after seeing an announcement of a break up or divorce smiles and starts sending messages to other people to discuss the newest gossip!

Last but not least, if you’re reading it because love is gone in your life and you’re struggling with sharing the bad news on social media, here’s a song for you that helped me in the past to deal with break-ups:

How did you deal with your break-up/divorce on social media? What reactions did you get? Is it even possible to keep your privacy and be active on social media at the same time?

 

 

 

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22 comments

  1. Hmmm….this is a tricky issue. With my first significant boyfriend, we were all over social media. It was my first and only F.B.Official relationship. We were young and did a lot of cool things together, which at the time we felt were social media worthy. When it came to breaking up, it was tough knowing what to do. We unfriended each other for a start, because I couldn’t bear to see what he was up to. Then I even started to consider removing every picture of us ever taken and put on social media. For a while, I changed the privacy settings on the pictures so they weren’t public. But at some point, I realised that removing the existence of our relationship from social media a) wasn’t a fully within my control and b) removing photos doesn’t mean that those things didn’t happen. So eventually, once the dust had settled I went back and I rechanged the privacy settings and left the pictures as they were. I couldn’t/didn’t want to erase half a decade of my life…and it wasn’t just me and the ex that shared those memories but our families and friends, so in the end it all seemed a bit futile. Honestly, I don’t think anyone is going to scroll three thousand years into the past to see pictures of me and my ex but if they do, the digital footprint is there for them to see. At the time, I was crazy, angry and wanted to be drastic but now I’m just like I’ve accepted I have a past and I’m not going to sanitize it for the sake of appearances and I’ve never pretended to be an innocent virgin in any case (and why anyone would want to be facebook associates with one is beyond me!).

    Since then I’ve matured a bit (I hope). I certainly won’t be declaring that I am IN A RELATIONSHIP with anyone. But that doesn’t mean it can be hidden when I am. With my next boyfriend, we were never F.B.O but very early into it photos were shared of us out with friends and then soon enough people knew.

    Being a self-confessed Facebook Whore, I don’t see myself ever coming off social media entirely but I have taken steps to be less showy about things. That said, the nature of social media does lend itself to showing off. Yes, there are people that post pictures of funerals and have status updates about how men are cheating scumbags, but generally I think most people like to show the more positive elements of their lives. There is this one inspirational quote that springs to mind which said : ‘One day your life will be as good as you make it look on Facebook’ – its a good reminder that we only see/show a curated version of our lives on social media. Its a comforting reminder during single times I think because you see all these ‘smug married couples’ who only seem to be on endless holidays and romantic weekends but if you think about you are just seeing one side…not the arguments, fights, etc.

    Liked by 2 people

    • I actually removed all the pictures with the only ex I was FB official with (no that it matters now that I deleted my FB account altogether). He kept our all loved up profile pic for a whole month after the break-up until someone told me and I had to message him asking him to remove it (WTF?). With my marriage we only announced being FB official after moving in together, mostly because everyone we knew, knew anyway. Around the wedding it was cool to see people tagging us on the wedding pics so I didn’t hate on it too much. Still, I just felt like there was too much of my privacy out there and with various issues with FB I felt happy to get rid of it.
      The problem with FB is what you’re mentioning – people tag you, the news of your new relationship are out, if it ends and the person starts to disappear from your pictures, people ask questions. When you’re going through a break up these questions hurt.

      Yes, some people post their stillborns too. I think if you’re posting the good you should post the bad too, otherwise we all have this fake idea about how other people’s lives are perfect that bring us down.
      I remember reading a study somewhere saying that the more often a couple posts pics of themselves together, the least substance and happiness there actually is. It’s probably true – sometimes you want to share your happiness on social media but in most case you’re too busy being happy in the moment to post.

      Like

  2. I think that social media has ruined true romance and privacy. People have become so obsessed with documenting their lives and relationships online, that it becomes lost in real life. Sometimes we have to stop worrying about what others think, and take care of ourselves and our relationships.

    It’s a sad thought that social media was designed to help people stay connected (an innocent and helpful addition to our busy lives), yet it is abused by millions in many ways.

    Thank you for the great read!

    Liked by 2 people

    • Hi Charl! Thank you for your comment.

      I totally agree. I think social media just adds up to our natural preoccupation with what others think about us. When I was much younger I even remember worrying about breaking up with my ex in terms of how it’d be perceived on social media…

      It is sad. As an immigrant I remember loving the idea of being able to stay in touch with people from my home country and still knowing how they’re doing. Unfortunately, in reality it doesn’t tell us much because most of what’s shown there is, well, for show.

      Liked by 1 person

      • You’re welcome!

        So many people judge the lives of others and their relationships because it’s so easy to do now. It definitely adds pressure and concerns that we shouldn’t have to worry about.

        That is true. If people truly cared about you and your life, they wouldn’t simply browse your profiles. They would reach out and ask how you really are.

        Liked by 1 person

      • I agree. Seeing that we can’t really change people and their judgemental tendencies it’s better to work on oneself by 1) trying not to be judgemental towards others and 2) keeping more things private than not on social media.

        Totally! Even if you see someone just started a new relationship it’s not necessarily a good thing for them (maybe in a conversation they’d tell you that they have doubts about the new partner). Similarly, a break up isn’t necessarily bad. Like with the fitness trainer I mentioned sometimes people are really unhappy in a relationship and a break up is actually a good thing and a first step towards a better future.

        Liked by 1 person

  3. I’ve never cared about social media as more than an outlet for ideas, and it bothers me a little bit to see my friends post intimate details of their lives like breakups.

    First off, I don’t think anyone actually cares. Just as much as we like getting points (likes) for our posts, people like to get kudos for being seen as sympathetic. It’s an act, in my opinion.

    Personally, I don’t post any relationship details online. I’ve never been Facebook official with someone nor do I typically post cutesy couples photos. I almost see my online life as a business. Not that I make any money off of it (lol) but I want to distance it from myself

    Liked by 1 person

    • I think social media may give you an impression of being a part of a community, which is why people share things they’d usually just share with friends or not even (like GIVING BIRTH pictures, whaaat? Or half-naked pictures with partners…). It’s an elusive thing, though. I felt too exposed by being on Facebook and people just doing with my pictures what they wanted. It’s not the worst thing in the world to be tagged on a bad picture but I often felt like you can just go out without having to pose for pictures or being tagged on something. Plus I was getting FOMO whenever people did something without me. Perhaps people still post pictures with me from parties and go out without me etc but at least I can’t see it or worry about it since I left Facebook 😉

      Oh, totally. You can see how people always like a new relationship, always send sad faces seeing a break-up and always congratulate on a new baby. It seems like getting married and reproducing is always socially appreciated, while if you had a promotion at work or are sharing something else it’s not so popular. At the end of the day I don’t think a lot of people who liked my wedding pictures cared about my wedding any more than they did about my career change. It’s more like we’re programmed what to give likes for.

      I share some couple pictures on Instagram if I like the picture and on my other blog if it’s relevant. Then again once you’re married it’s not a secret to anyone so it feels different to just share a picture which shows that you’re a couple than it felt to share details about a previous relationship I felt fake sharing pics about cause I wasn’t really happy but likes were giving me a boost.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Instagram is different, I think, and I don’t have a ton of experience posting on it. Since it’s FOR pictures, I find it less obnoxious to see couples or baby pics there. I guess I’m mainly talking about Facebook which I know the three of us have all basically lamented before! I think Facebook will either not be a thing or be radically different in the next few years. The world is becoming more privacy-centered in some ways. Sharing pictures is always fun but I don’t see many people, aside from the elderly, posting any opinions on Facebook anymore (which I consider a good thing!). I’m not sure what the next social media movement will look like, but I’m down to try it out.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Yes and Instagram also gives you more freedom. People don’t get upset, if you unfollow them on Instagram but try to unfriend them on Facebook 😉
        I’ve actually just had my first FB free bday and even though I received less wishes then when I was on FB it felt nice not to constantly check how many wishes I got (maybe it was me, but I had the compulsion). Also people who I’m actually close to remembered anyway so it seems like all I got rid of was the illusion of being more popular than I am :p
        I think after the privacy issues with FB and what they did with people’s data, plus the shaming people will be a bit more cautious with what they share.
        As for development, I think it’d be nice to have a place to share ideas with people but not necessarily those you met some time ago or you’re historical friends with. It sounds a bit like Twitter but I don’t like it, mostly to the characters limit.
        Let’s see what new product arrives at the social media landscape.

        Like

      • I blocked a few people on Facebook yesterday, holdovers from my past life. I’m learning more and more that I didn’t choose good friends back then, lol. I’ve never blocked anyone on Instagram though. It just seems like a more positive place.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Ha, well done! I unfriended “bad friends” before but when they run after me asking “How come are we not friends anymore?” I was usually a coward adding them back… I really struggle with conflict but I’m getting better at it.

        Liked by 1 person

      • These people don’t have the option to ever speak to me again, fortunately. Haha. I don’t know what makes people so much more negative on Facebook than anywhere else. It’s conditioned me to be afraid of comments, actually. Whenever I see that someone has commented on my blog here, I get a pang of fear in my stomach like “oh great what is someone mad about” but I’ve gotten nothing but positivity.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Yeah, you’ve blocked them. I’ve only blocked a handful of people in my life and they were all real online dating creeps.
        Now that you mention – the only time I ever got a truly negative comment (as in not constructive criticism or disagreement) was on Facebook. A former friend of mine commented as I was sharing my post that it’s nice I’m writing finally about something else than my mental problems, which aren’t very interesting for my audience.

        Liked by 1 person

      • lmao talk about passive aggressive! Mine kind of ruined my day yesterday. I posted the same selfie that I used I think two posts ago on my blog and 3 people said really mean things about it, but passively. Don’t need that, especially at 9am.

        Liked by 1 person

      • There’s this saying that you should only say something if it’s something nice. I don’t agree 100% because constructive criticism can be good but in general I find it a good rule to live by. I wish more people on Facebook had it in mind.

        Liked by 1 person

  4. I have never given in to the perfect relationship persona. We have a saying back home that what looks good in the window never looks good at home and Social Media is perfect for that, I find more often than not they are attention seekers who relish in the idea of building the illusion of having a perfect life and/or relationship. I don’t share my personal life on Social Media because my life nor relationship isn’t perfect. People have taken Social Media to a different level, I prefer the early days of Social Media where there wasn’t so much drama, now you have to spend hours just to find interesting content because everyone is looking for their cult following. The Juicer and more controversial the content the more interest.

    I think your ex-colleague suffered from what we call that 7-year itch. Where one or both parties begin to question their commitment to that relationship. Happens to the best of couples. LOL! I had a good friend who went through the same, she and her husband broke up two months shy of their 7th year wedding anniversary. Said she just felt the marriage was going no where fast.

    Liked by 1 person

    • So nice to hear someone being so sensible about it. And yes, I totally get you. I also think it’s too much drama these days. One of the reasons why I couldn’t stand Facebook any more were “shitstorms”. People posting controversial picturesor statement on purposes and fighting with other users… I was like, can I just see someone’s exotic holiday now please or something cool they did? Which is probably why I much prefer Instagram.

      You’re probably right. I’ve heard (and read) about the 7-year itch and many couples I know broke-up or got engaged or married or had a kid in their 7th year or just after that. It makes sense to ask yourself after that long, even if things seemingly work out fine, whether it’s really working.

      Liked by 1 person

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