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Op-ed: Should You Unfollow Your Ex on Social Media?

Op-ed: Should You Unfollow Your Ex on Social Media?


In this #AskTyler column, Tyler Curry discusses the perils of gay dating in the world of social media.

What started as a harmless time-suck in the late 1990s/early 2000s has now become possibly the most influential form of communication of our time. Whether you like it or not, social media has permeated virtually every facet of our lives. Whether you are an old-school Facebook queen or a hip Instagram kid, you have given social media the power to shape, code, and categorize your relationships.

For the most part, you probably don't even mind. However, our favorite apps have yet to develop a breakup filter -- you know, the kind that removes his existence from your timeline and blocks your friends and family from mentioning his name or asking unwanted questions. This belaboring and painful task is still up to you to perform, and it can be cause for quite the personal conundrum.

Which leads to our question from Kyle from Dallas: "Should you 'unfollow' an ex on social media post-breakup?"

If we are talking about Facebook, then the short answer is yes. You should unfollow an ex immediately after a breakup, if not sooner. An "unfollow" is merely the process of removing the presence of your ex from your direct line of sight, which is a must if you actually intend to get over him any time soon. An "unfollow' is not an "unfriend," which can seem more directed and final. It can also cause more headaches between you and your former partner, prompting questions and drawing out an argument.

There are two distinct parts of a breakup that you must manage carefully: the emotional and the logical. Eventually, the logical side always wins, but it is the emotional side that causes the most pain in the interim. You might think that you and your ex can be friends, but your emotional side probably cannot handle it for quite a few months, if not years. Without an "unfollow," you leave your emotional side exposed to your ex's future posts of happy pictures, mystery men, and cryptic messages. And if you don't remove this emotional trigger, your emotional self may just convince your logical side that you made the wrong choice. You didn't.

Getting over an ex is like trying to break a bad drug habit. Your body says you want him, but your brain knows it is unhealthy. You have to relearn how to function without something you relied on so heavily. If you don't remove him completely from your visible world while you go through withdrawal, you are setting yourself up for a relapse.

If you truly want to be friends with your ex, then you have got to put some serious distance between the two of you first. There is no magic number of days, months, or years it will take. Your logical side will just know when it's right, because your emotional side won't start to gag at the thought of your ex with a new man.

If an "unfollow" is not enough to remove the temptation to creep on his life, by all means, "unfriend," block, or take a break from social media altogether. Don't waste time feeling bad that you couldn't be an adult about it. Just do whatever it takes to free yourself from the sadistic "woulda, coulda, shouldas" that social media is designed to incite.

You might never be able to be real-life friends again, but you most certainly can exist in the same cyber space when the emotions subside. But if you are contemplating whether to "unfriend" or "unfollow," just do it already. Your emotional side will thank you later.

Tylercurry_x100_0TYLER CURRY is the senior editor of HIV Equal Online and an award-winning LGBT columnist. Follow him @iamtylercurry

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