Dating dilemma: Being friends with your exes on Facebook

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Social networks are a fantastic way to be in touch with friends and relatives but when a relationship ends it often leaves a question of whether to remove your ex from your friendship list or accept a friendship request if it comes after the break-up. While there will be many variables – how long you were together; how much of your friendship group you shared etc. it really is probably best to cut the virtual friendship along with the actual relationship here’s why.

Clean break

Before the advent of social media breaking up with someone was a fairly straightforward affair – over time wounds would heal and each of you would get on with your own lives being wiser and hopefully stronger. Time is an incredible healer but the healing process can be delayed significantly if your lives still touch and you are aware of who they are hanging out with, what they are doing with their time and when they start dating again.

Even if you feel philosophical about the break up and ready to move on you will probably find yourself raking over the past more than is healthy if they are in your face every time you log on. A clean break is best for both of you and although it may seem harsh and painful to ‘unfriend’ an ex you are actually doing both of you a favour in the long run.

Open door

A lot of people add to their friendship lists on Facebook and seem to forget that being friends with someone gives them access to a lot of personal information – photographs, status updates, timelines and personal tastes in music, books, and TV – friends can also see who else you are friends with, when you are online and any other information you – or others – post about you including embarrassing photographs etc. It is a bit like giving someone permission to come and nosy around your house and then stay and keep an eye on everything you get up to  – do you really want an ex to have that level of involvement in your life?

Self consciousness

The role of social media in people’s lives is increasing and it is important, if you are to get the most out of it, that it remains a safe space for you to express yourself. In order for this to happen it is useful to go through your friendship lists occasionally and see if these are people you still want to be part of your life. New Year is a good time to do it and it is far better to have a small group of ‘real’ friends that you want to really communicate with than hundreds of ‘virtual’ friends who you don’t really know or care about. Knowing that your ex is one of those virtual people can make you feel very inhibited when sharing news about a new relationship – they don’t need to know how happy you are with someone else.

Game playing

There are people who tell their partner that it is over but they are not really ready to let the relationship go so they want to keep their ex close by in case they change their mind – often in the form as a virtual friend. This is unfair and stops either of you from healing or moving on. You can’t have it both ways. Either let your partner go and accept the fact that they may be hurt and angry with you or work at the relationship in a more honest and committed way. There is no reserves bench when it comes to dating and you have to accept that in ending a relationship you are effectively cutting that person from your life altogether including on Facebook – if you can’t bear to delete them as a friend on Facebook you probably aren’t ready to end the relationship.


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