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The Breakup Etiquette Guide for Facebook

08/10/2014 15:11 BST | Updated 08/12/2014 10:59 GMT

So you may have guessed from the title that my relationship has just ended. Very sad, very emotional, very raw. But before you whip out your violin, there's a few new unspoken rules of the digital generation concerning such an incident like this of which I am somewhat confused. Despite being 23 years old with an expectation to be fully immersed in the online buzz, I am a self-confessed technophobe. I crave simpler times where we didn't have to be glued to our phones to feel a sense of belonging in the world. I crave an age where you never got to find out how many people 'liked' your witty observation (ignorance is bliss). I crave more messages in bottles and letters through the post.

Yep, I'm a soppy git.

But be that as it may, the world did not care for my desires and we are all now involved in this interconnected world where anybody can be found, looked at, messaged and in the instance of a breakup, stalked. Obsessed over even. Why are they liking that person's status? Why have they untagged that photo of us together? What does this all mean?! Before you know it you've bought ten cats and turned your bathroom into a shrine. Hygiene is overrated, right?

Since the rise of social networks, breakups no longer mean 'breaking up'. The process has been interrupted by the likes of Facebook in particular, where lives are lived online and access to your ex is just a click away. (Even if they've blocked you, we all know we can just log into our friend's account and find them that way!) Getting on with our lives now involves making a whole myriad of digital decisions, rather than just gathering up our things, saying goodbye and singing along to the saddest song on the drive home. Nope, we now have to be smarter with our approach to maintain our online persona. Do you go for theatrics or play it cool? Here are some lessons on Facebook breakup etiquette that we're all going to have to learn at some point if we choose to opt in to society and get dumped...

1. Never hover over the Like button

Imagine accidentally pressing 'like' on your ex's picture from 2008. Clear evidence that you've been sitting on your laptop clicking through their tagged photos for a good two hours. Yes, you can unlike, but chances are that the red ball of shame will be staring them in the face when they next login. Or even more likely is that they have the Facebook app installed on their phone and will receive the news instantly. Either way, you're doomed.

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2. Stay away from their friends

A classic in social media breakups is to start engaging with your ex's nearest and dearest, a vain attempt in trying to validate yourself within their circles. You might get at most a 'Like' on your initial breakup status, but do not seek more. Stop commenting on his girl friends' photos with lies about how stunning they look. Refrain from cooing over their siblings offspring. You ex's mom, sister, brother, nephew, neighbour or friend is not able to fix your relationship. If it was a healthy relationship in the first place they shouldn't have been too involved so don't bring them into it now.

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3. Don't try and be the next Edgar Allen Poe

Another temptation is to recite your favourite sonnet, or use lyrics from a song to express your emotions. Don't. Okay, maybe once, but relentlessly making reference to Adele is extremely uncomfortable for your Facebook friends. It's like having to console a mate who has been wailing uncontrollably and wiping their snot on you for the past 48 hours despite all the nice things and exaggerated compliments you've told them. It gets tiresome and people will begin to ignore your creative pleas for attention and continue scrolling away their lives.

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4. Never, ever, air your dirty laundry

An age old piece of wisdom but you can never hear it enough. The only thing to come from writing a ferocious attack aimed at your ex within the formatting of a Facebook status is to merely serve as entertainment for the masses. Your close friends will close their eyes in disbelief and wince at the cringe-worthiness, whilst anybody slightly more detached from you will be getting the popcorn out ready for a night of hilarity, whilst searching online for the most inappropriate memes to inject into the conversation.

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5. To delete or not to delete

Finally, the big question, and one that could save all of the hassle and drama previously mentioned up there. But it also means you may be susceptible to more stalking being that the search bar still looms prominently in your face. However from my (very) recent experiences, deletion works. After accidentally stumbling upon his profile (by accidentally I mean very much on purpose of course), I noticed I had been made an 'acquaintance' as only aspects of the profile were now visible to me. This hurt more. I'd rather see everything or nothing. I'd rather be in your life or not at all. Breaking up should mean; cutting all ties, erasing communications and moving forward.

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By all means, leave the door slightly ajar if you think there is room for salvage, but don't get your hopes up if nothing more than an annoying draft comes out of it.

Have you got any other social breakup etiquette tips or horror stories to share?