I’m sure there have been a gazillion blog posts and articles written about breaking up in today’s world of social media. The medium which allows us instant contact with friends, potential partners, and the ones we are in relationships with, can become our worst enemy when we break up.
My cub and I broke up two months ago today (I’ve been rounding up to four because that’s what it feels like, although not in a positive way). But because of Facebook, Twitter, and Ichat, it was more like a sprain or a fracture at best, rather than a clean break. Those apps give us the illusion of contact and connection. They allow us to delude ourselves into believing that although we are no longer together in the real world, in the virtual one – and that includes are minds – we still are. Any new status update or tweet, no matter how lame, can make your heart flutter with its promise of a new clue into what your ex is up to. Or at least you know he is alive; going to work, the gym, drinking coffee…and lots of beer.
You want to believe that he’s drinking all that beer because he’s still trying to get over you; because the slightest inkling of him having recovered so quickly cuts deep. You hold your breath when you check his page, praying you’re not going to see something else, like a post from a female name you don’t recognize with lots of xoxoxo. (Or worse, as with a previous ex of mine, a picture of him with a baby…His!) So you scour newly posted photos of bar revelry for signs of the guy brooding in the background as his friends are having a blast. But then you see reoccurring photos of him with the same brunette. So you check out this girl’s profile page. If she’s young, without the sense (or baggage) that warrants the need for privacy, you’re lucky. You can see all her photos, and then decide for yourself if she’s even worthy of your sexy exy. Hopefully, she’s not as attractive as you, which makes you feel better. For like a minute. Because you know full well that pictures, particularly the Facebook series, can’t convey personality, how flirty she might be, and how vulnerable your ex is to such attention.
I could be ashamed to admit that I’ve been guilty of the above, but shame is not the point. The point is, that engaging in such fruitless behavior, when you know in your gut that you need to move on, is completely counter productive to healing. It allows us to leave the wound open, because closing it signals harsh finality.
For weeks I considered defriending my ex-cub, knowing it was distracting me, misdirecting my energy, and at low points, really upsetting me. But I couldn’t do it. I knew that it would shock him, not just because it would seem abrupt in the face of our amicable split, but because it would signal to him that I had taken the final necessary step and that our relationship, at least in the form it had been in for over three years, was over. I also knew that it would signal to him that I not only needed to move on, which he had always been aware of, but that I was finally ready to.
A friend, when encouraging me to remove him, said, “Just say no!” and I laughed because it made me think of the drug slogan. But social media, at its most harmful, is when we use it to numb the pain of heartbreak and the pain of confronting reality. We hang on, perpetuating the habit by impulsively checking in (in the form of stalking), and it seems benign, but its cumulative effects – like a drug – are toxic. It pollutes our clarity, heightens our yearning, and weakens our resolve.
I had to cut myself off. Knowing that by doing so, I would be cutting him off too. Breaking up is hard enough, but enabling one another to remain stuck by keeping the break up wound open is in my opinion even worse.
So I did it. I defriended him. Big step for Cougel. As I write this, I realize how silly it is that I’ve allowed a social media application to expand to such monstrous proportions in my romantic life, but I’d be dishonest if I were to diminish its role. I’m sure I’m not the only one either. Let’s call it like it is, right?
When I automatically got on Facebook the next morning, like I always do, and realized that I could no longer take a virtual stroll over to my ex, or scour the chat box to see if he was chattable, I laughed at the absurdity of it. What am I even doing here? Suddenly, Facebook felt pointless. But it also affirmed that by taking the step of removing him – a psychological obstacle to my growth – I had taken the step towards bettering myself. So I moved my cursor up to that little “x” in the upper corner, clicked it, and closed the application.
How’s that for some closure?