A Timeline of One Guy's Tough Breakup on Social Media

Thanks to social media, breaking up today isn’t the same as it was a decade or so ago. The breakup itself and the aftermath can be (and usually are) more public, and all the different social platforms can tempt you to emote more publicly than usual, too. It used to be you’d get dumped and just listen to pathetic songs in the privacy of your own bedroom. Now, you can post the video with a caption, and all your friends can see it and like it and tell you how sorry for you they are and how dumb your ex was (though they never tell you they think the person's terrible until after you break up—why is that?).

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Here’s a timeline of what one rough breakup looked like for me on Facebook:


On the night of the breakup, I post a status: “F*ck. My heart hurts. I can’t believe this is happening.” Then I lie in bed and cry while listening to sad songs and smoking cigarettes indoors because, whatever, I don’t care about anything anymore, even the fact that I am not a smoker.


I wake up to a bunch of messages from people asking what’s wrong. I would probably never admit this publicly, but I was purposely vague with my messaging because deep down I wanted people to express their concern, curiosity, and interest in my misfortune.

It sets in that the dissolution of the relationship is real and likely to last. I change my relationship status to “no relationship information to show.” Cryptic, right? I am no longer in a relationship but have not publicly identified as “single.” (It’s been less than 24 hours. I am not yet ready to mingle.)


I change my profile picture from a cute one of the ex and I that was snapped when we were dressed to the nines at a friend’s wedding—back when I was starting to think crazy sh*t like, “OMG maybe we’ll be the bride and groom one day!”—to a shot of me, solo, smiling.

I get really drunk alone on whiskey while listening to way too much sad music and decide it’ll be a good idea to post a live video of my favorite band performing the live version of their most butt-hurt breakup song. I feel that my ex will probably see this post and have feelings about it.

While still drunk, I comb exhaustively through my photos and un-tag myself from every one where we are seen together.

I change my relationships status to “Single.” I wish more women would click “like” on it. But they don’t.

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I stalk my ex’s profile and see she has also changed her profile and removed any mention of me. This upsets me even though I have just done the same thing, so I use my amateur Photoshop skills to crop her out of a few pictures of us where I think I look the best, and I tag myself in them. I post, like, three more videos of super-depressing songs before I pass out in a bed full of chicken wing bones and warm ranch dressing. Near dawn, I post a picture of the decimated wings with the caption, “Eating my feelings. I don’t even care if my heart explodes.”

This was the worst night.


My brother sends me a bottle of Scotch, and my mom sends me a cookie cake. I post pictures of both to let my Facebook friends know I’m coping by ingesting carbs and high-proof alcohol.

My best friend tells me my posts of late have been depressing at best and worrisome at worst. I tell him I’m fine, that I know there’s a very significant contrast between real depression and breakup depression. I realize I should probably dial it back a little bit, and so I go silent on social media for a few days while trying to deal with my sadness.


My social media silence lasts about 24 hours. I break it with an impulsive post of a live rendition of my favorite band’s second saddest song.


I follow it up the next night with a live video of The Cure’s “Just Like Heaven,” which had been “our song.” (Fun fact: some people theorize that this song is about going down on a woman. I realize I miss doing this for my ex, but don’t think it’s appropriate to post this sentiment on social media).


I rarely post on social media. I do, however, spend a lot of time on Facebook, mostly stalking my ex. I develop a habit where as soon as I fire up my browser, I go to Facebook and then her profile. I scrutinize every single update, searching for hidden messages.

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She posts a picture with some dude who I think might be better-looking than me, though I yell to my roommate to come check it out and say, “Really? This f*cking guy?!” He agrees with me that this dude looks like a douche. He has to. We live together. I “like” the picture. Super passive-aggressive!

A few minutes later, I hover my mouse over the “un-friend” button. I freak out and slam my laptop shut.

An hour (and several mild panic attacks) later, the anger sets in. I imagine the scenario where she marries this guy, and I really do un-friend her. I immediately regret this decision, as it prevents me from being able to fully access her page. I won’t be able to stalk her or know what’s going on in her life. But I can’t re-request her. After a while, I’m kind of comforted by this.


I meet someone new, and then I meet someone else new. The second woman is amazing, and we become Facebook official a few months after meeting. One day, I get a friend request from my ex. It makes me feel strange, like I have butterflies, but not the good kind. More like the kind you get when you’re about to give a presentation that you know is going to be horrible.

I decide not to accept her request.

I’ve moved on, and I’d like to keep it this way. I live in a new town hundreds of miles from her, and for a while she’s been completely out of my life. It’s like the old days, when the only chance of running into her would be when we were both home for the holidays or something. I like it that way. It’s simple. I won’t accept her friend request for the same reason I won’t watch our sex tape (yup, we have one): It helps me keep moving forward instead of looking back.

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