It's over, you've broken-up, yet you're still friends with each other on Facebook. His mug popping up in your news feed alongside a bitchy status or photos of him moving on with his life? Yep, it's the norm. You don't want to come across as immature, you want to be grown up about it all, but guess what? It's definitely okay to 'unfriend' your ex on Facebook...
"I hope we can still be friends," I said to my ex boyfriend as I left him standing alone at the train station after a long-winded but surprisingly dry-eyed breakup. And do you know what? I totally believed my own BS. In my eyes, there was no reason we couldn't remain pals. He had different ideas.
Within hours his profile had vanished from my Facebook 'friends' list and all that was left was an inbox message saying something like, "I hope you don't find me deleting you off Facebook childish." In all honesty, it was a bitter pill to swallow and although I wasn't the one who'd just been dumped I was pretty pissed off. But now, looking back, I'm pleased he did it.
I'd committed the ultimate social networking sin and declared myself "in a relationship" on my Facebook wall (note to all FB users, stay away from your relationship status until you're married) and had been stressing about how long I should leave it until I switched it to "single" after things ended.
Fortunately for me, by the time I got home from the aforementioned scene of the breakup he'd done all the legwork for me. Not only had I been unrelationshiped but, according to the internet, we weren't even friends anymore. Bummer, right? Wrong.
Around breakup time I'd read an article on The Frisky, "5 Reasons Not To Defriend Your Ex" and was starting to come round to their quite frankly ridiculous five point plan - which included justifications like: you may want to keep in touch in the future, it won't make the memories go away, he needs to see what he's missing, you can keep tabs on him and you'll look immature if you delete him - before he hit unticked the 'friends' box.
As I said, in that moment I was pretty pissed off but just days later I was thanking my lucky stars that it wasn't I who'd had to bear the 'unfriend' finger. I wasn't responsible. No one could accuse me of being immature. Nor was I the stalker'ish ex girlfriend keeping tabs on him like article suggested. Phew!
But here's the thing. Even if he hadn't digitally ostracised me I would've had to do it to him at some point. And after this experience, I'm inclined to say the sooner you dump him on social media the better and here's why...
1. No one likes a stalker
Before the advent of social media, it took some serious dedication to spy on a former flame. Prising information from friends or hanging out at their favourite haunts was the only real way to get any info. And I'm guessing you wouldn't be caught dead doing such things, so why are you flicking through all his pictures and religiously checking his relationship status online? Stop it now. No one likes a psycho stalker ex and you certainly don't want to be one.
2. No one likes a stalker 0.2
Who's to say you'll be the one stalking. Your ex might be having a nose at your profile. And while it's all very good to show him what he's missing yada, yada, yada but all you're going to end up doing, according to author and relationship expert Natalie Lue, is feeling like you can't say and do what you want on Facebook and censoring yourself.
3. You'll start reading into things
You know that Alanis Morissette video he posted on his timeline? That wasn't aimed at you, but you totally thought it was. Okay, well maybe it was aimed at you a little, but hey, most of his updates aren't and you shouldn't have to bear the brunt of the ones that are. So don't. Delete him now.
4. A study says you should
If there's one thing you should live your life by, it's a gotta be some sort of poll, survey and/or study. So, on that note, Brunel University found that those who remained Facebook "friends" with an ex experience more distress and took longer to move on compared with those who immediately clicked "unfriend". See, it's science.
And one last thing to remember. There's no such thing as etiquette on the internet and Facebook doesn't care who dumped who IRL. On FB it's anyone's game. If he ditched you it's get your own back time and if you dumped him I'm guessing you didn't want him in your life anymore - so why would you want him on your timeline?