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After my last breakup, I daydreamed about
Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind-ing myself: wiping every last memory clean of him, of us; that way I’d have no recollection of his existence, nor our time together.
It’s an extreme thought, I know. But breakups can be THAT painful. And while we can’t sci-fi style our memories away, I did figure out the next best thing:
Creating healthy boundaries.
More specifically, creating healthy
A Social Media Minefield
Breakups have a tendency of turning our lives upside down, but that chaotic phase should be just that: a phase. Psychologists even suggest we can bounce back in as little as three months post-breakup if we process our emotions properly and don’t unnecessarily prolong the healing.
I’ll level with you though, it takes emotional grit and proactive steps to keep our mental health in check post-breakup, and in today’s digital world, creating the needed distance for healing can feel like an uphill battle.
I mean, come on, how often are you out with friends and one of them pulls out their phone for a quick social media hit? Maybe they come across a hilarious cat video and innocently show you. Then that’s followed up with a quick creep of their crush, and a few scrolls later, your ex’s face appears,
and he’s got his arm around some other girl…?
It’s a slippery slope when we have access to
everyone at our fingertips at all times. A girl’s brunch can quickly turn into a sob fest.
What’s worse is, when we doom scroll through other people’s profiles, we fall into this comparison trap, which plays as an automatic lose for ourselves because we’re comparing our
insides to someone else’s outsides – a very unrealistic approach.
Many of us use our online personas to portray a version of ourselves that’s the
opposite of how we’re truly feeling – self-aggrandizing posts, making it seem like we’re “more than fine”, we’re “thriving.” When, in reality, we’re lying in bed mid-day, in a blacked-out room, playing ours and our ex’s song on repeat; using all of our willpower not to send that unrecoverable text:
I miss you.
The Boundary Building Toolkit
Listen, I don’t have a reset button; there is no magic procedure that’ll wipe your ex from your mind. But I do have a toolkit; a set of strategies that can help you build boundaries.
These boundaries will help you create the space you need to process the emotional rollercoaster you’re on, without the constant influence of social media.
Overall, the constant presence of social media can prolong the healing process by preventing you from fully disconnecting from your past relationship and focusing on your personal growth and well-being. Focusing on other people’s online lives has one dire consequence:
Life fades into the background, and you no longer spend time cultivating real relationships.
The Worst-Case Scenario
Before we dive into the toolkit to help you set boundaries, I want to remind you of what
could happen if you choose not to prioritize your mental health or regulate your relationship with social media:
Social media serves as a repository of shared memories, with posts, photos, and messages that remind you of your past relationship. These constant reminders close the space between you and the relationship, making moving on and letting go all the more challenging.
The emotional rollercoaster caused by breakups can lead to impulsive reactions on social media.
Posting messages or comments in the heat of the moment may offer temporary relief but can ultimately lead to shame, regret, and/or harm adjacent relationships, potentially complicating the healing process.
Diving too deep into your ex’s posts or interactions with other people can become all-consuming.
You’re constantly trying to decode hidden messages or hints in their online behavior, and before you know it, you find yourself stuck in the past, further from your own healing and progress.
Remember, no matter how enticing that elusive “hidden message” might seem, it’s certainly not worth sacrificing your well-being. This can easily spiral into a never-ending game you’re playing with yourself, where the only surefire result is self-defeat.
The ease of accessing someone’s social media profiles can lead to unhealthy levels of cyber-stalking. Like overanalyzing, this behavior can create obsessive thoughts and behaviors, keeping you invested in your past.
It’s important you understand that “checking in” on an ex or
tracking their location is not a healthy coping mechanism and should be met with careful reflection and care.
False Narratives and Comparisons
More often than not, social media presents a distorted version of reality. People tend to curate their online personas, showcasing the highlights and positive aspects of their life. This may give the impression that your ex is doing “better” than you are, and seemingly unimpacted by the breakup. This can cause feelings of resentment or jealousy, and lead to unhealthy comparisons, triggering feelings of inadequacy, regret, and even shame: a concoction for emotional stagnation.
Scrolling through old chats, photos, or shared experiences on social media can trigger intrusive memories of your past relationship, making it challenging to let go and create emotional distance.
An excessive use of social media, especially for reasons listed here, can create the illusion that it’s a
healthy coping mechanism.
In reality, the constant scrolling and online interactions can keep you dependent on the apps you’re using.
Using social media as a means to “escape” can increase vulnerability, lead to inauthentic relationships, and cause a loss of perspective, consequently delaying your healing.
Top 10 Tips to Set Boundaries
Now, rather than getting lost in the minefield of social media, why not give these 10 tips a try?
They’re going to help you take back control, safeguard your heart, and ensure you have a POSITIVE and
regulated online experience as you move forward.
Let’s dive in…
1. Unfriend or Block if Necessary
This isn’t tip #1 by accident.
Seriously, consider unfriending or blocking your ex-partner, especially if there’s toxicity or harassment.
This may feel scary at first, but it’s crucial to safeguard your online space
and your headspace.
2. Address Mutual Friends and Connections
After a breakup, I believe it’s important to have a chat with your mutual friends.
You need to let them know that you need some privacy during this time. Kindly ask them to avoid sharing anything about your ex to you, and to not share anything about you with your ex.
If you have mutual friends who have trouble respecting this boundary, consider unfollowing or unfriending them to support your needed emotional distance.
3. Review and Curate Tagged Photos
If you don’t plan on shutting down your social media altogether, set aside some time to review your tagged photos to ensure that potentially triggering images are hidden or removed from your profile.
4. Adjust Location Sharing
When posting on social media, be mindful of location-sharing features that might inadvertently reveal your whereabouts to your ex or their connections, especially if there’s toxicity or harassment involved.
5. Be Prepared for Questions
After a breakup, it’s inevitable that people will want the
goss. So, anticipate questions from friends or acquaintances and decide how much you’re comfortable sharing online or offline.
6. Consider Temporary Deactivation
If the emotional toll is too high, consider temporarily deactivating your social media accounts until you’re in a better headspace.
7. Monitor Emotional Responses
If you decide to keep your social media accounts active, pay attention to your responses to social media content and take breaks if you notice negative feelings arising.
8. Prioritize Real-Life Connections
More than anything, during this time it’s crucial you focus on nurturing real-life relationships and connections that provide genuine support.
Spend time with loved ones and friends who
make you feel good and want the best for you.
9. Celebrate Personal Achievements
If and when you’re ready to get back online, it’s okay to share your personal achievements and positive experiences to boost your self-esteem and show that you’re moving forward. But be cautious you aren’t leaning into social media to lie to yourself (or others) about what’s truly happening or how you really feel.
If nothing else, celebrate your personal achievements
off-line with people who enjoy celebrating you!
10. Regular Digital Detoxes
Lastly, it’s important you have regular digital detoxes where you can disconnect from all social media accounts to recharge and refocus on other aspects of your life – like authentic relationships and your mental health.
You’re Not a Robot
We all need to acknowledge a fundamental truth:
We’re not machines designed to function without rest or self-care.
After a breakup, it’s tempting to throw ourselves onto social media, posting about how well we’re doing, yet scrolling endlessly in an attempt to numb the pain or distract from the emotional whirlwind that’s really taken hold.
We’re human, which means we feel things deeply, whether we want to or not, and healing from a breakup is a journey that requires time, self-compassion, and self-care,
especially when it comes to our online presence and interactions.
So, while social media can be a part of our lives, it shouldn’t be our whole world! We need to disconnect, to be present in our real lives, and to focus on healing.
In fact, that should be how we spend
most of our time.
The ironic thing is:
Breakups are one of those real, human experiences. They bring pain, but in doing so, they reveal our imperfect and vulnerable sides, which gives us the opportunity to reflect and uncover lessons tucked away in the hurt.
Take these 10 tips, set those boundaries, and remember that life is much more than the sum of your social media posts or the end of a relationship.
Nurture your real-life connections, celebrate your achievements with genuine friends, and give yourself permission to disconnect and heal.
And if/when you are ready to get back on social media, remember, it’s a space that should foster positivity (not hinder it), one click at a time.
Until next time,
Take care, friends!
Quean Mo xx