Social media is an ever-present force in society today, and that includes its impact on primary relationships. Breakups, separations and divorces have frequently been affected by, or caused by, social media interactions. The topic of social media and divorce is not only of interest to counselors and sociologists, but to the people whose marriages and relationships are being threatened or destroyed by those social media exchanges. 

Women, who come to us at Midlife Divorce Recovery for help, ask a lot of questions. A few of the most common social media questions they ask are:

Should I unfollow my ex?

Should I block my ex from my social media sites?

Is it okay to follow your ex on social media?

During separations or divorce, we are often tempted to “keep tabs” on our ex or our soon-to-be ex (STBX) whether on social media or by actually following them physically. It’s both humiliating and enticing to see what our ex is up to. Most of the time when we actually discover what our ex is doing, the result is more heartbreak and devastation.

5-Day Divorce Recovery Crash Course. Take the first steps in your recovery and start healing today! Send me the free emails
5-Day Divorce Recovery Crash Course. Take the first steps in your recovery and start healing today! Send me the free emails

Does Social Media Cause Breakups & Divorces?

Social media makes connecting with people easier, faster and more convenient than face-to-face encounters. Social media can be a great way to stay in touch with old friends from the past and encourage new relationships now. But there is a dark side to social media too.

Sites that promote hookups with sex partners are becoming more prevalent. Social media can also help us connect with past lovers, and keep those internet connections secret from our current partners. Being on social media sites can also be addicting.

It’s not only what one does on social media, but the actual time spent using it that can lead to conflicts within a marriage. A study, published in the journal, Computers in Human Behavior, found that social media usage is linked to marital unhappiness and higher rates of divorce. 

Unrealistic Expectations & Jealousy

One of the problems of social media is that when we see what others are posting about their lives, ours may look boring and dull in comparison. No one posts their normal everyday events. They post themselves, tan and thin, on a sunkissed beach. 

During and after divorce, we might not have enough money, or time, to take a vacation. People on facebook, instagram and other social media are all smiling and happy. We don’t see any of the conflict. We mistakenly think that everyone else is having a lot more fun than we are, and their lives are a lot better than ours. Social media causes, not just dissatisfaction, but depression and thoughts of suicide. Click here for help disconnecting from unhealthy social media connections. 

If we are separated or newly divorced, money is often tight and we’re lonely. When we see posts from our ex, arms entwined with a new love in an idyllic place, jealousy, hurt and anger come boiling to the surface. 

Why would we purposely submit ourselves to that kind of torture? The pain is multiplied when we know that everyone who sees those posts knows he left us (the loser) for this other person (the more fun OW). Checking his social media pages is a formula for heartache and/or rage.

Cheating & Infidelity

Along with social media making us dissatisfied and depressed, we often get proof that our husband or our ex has been in another relationship. We see with our own eyes that they were hooking up in ways that were not appropriate … even if they were “just” on social media.

Texting and sharing intimate thoughts and feelings is still cheating. If your spouse opened up his heart and mind with someone else instead of you, that is an insidious kind of infidelity. When the messages (and then pictures) become more intimate, online infidelity almost always becomes physical as well as emotional.

What To Do

Time Off Social Media

My advice, as a midlife divorce recovery mentor, is to STOP FOLLOWING YOUR EX ON SOCIAL MEDIA! It is tempting, but the result is usually gut-wrenching and sometimes confusing. We wonder: “Why my ex is always the first to view my story?” Does that mean he misses me? We’re confused because “my ex broke up with me but stalks me on Instagram.” Or my ex keeps liking my posts. “What’s up with that?!” 

I didn’t want anyone to think I cared what my ex and his girlfriend were doing. But I did care. Especially in our separation stage, I wanted to know if my husband really wanted to come back to our family like he said, or if his affair partner was posting pictures of them together on her social media platforms.

Most people feel withdrawal symptoms when you stop following your ex on social media. If you have been married for years or decades, going cold turkey without seeing them or speaking to them is a challenge. During those early days of divorce, you obsess about them, and it’s easy to “just check in” on their social media sites.

Also, if we block our ex or STBX from looking at our pages, we feel anxious. We may secretly want them to keep looking at our pages. We may feel distressed that our ex stopped looking at our social media. None of this is good for us while we are trying to figure out where we go from here either during or after divorce. It keeps us stuck in the divorce rut!

Change Passwords

It is a good idea to change your social media passwords, if they are shared with an ex or STBX. Every social media program will let you change your passwords. Each may have a different protocol for doing that, but it’s in your emotional best interest to not allow your ex to have access to your accounts. If you can’t figure it out, ask a friend or family member to help.

Be Careful What You Share

If you are going through divorce, be careful sharing sensitive personal information on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter or other social media. Don’t do or say anything questionable on your own sites. Attorneys can use any online information as evidence that an adulterous relationship was going on between an ex and his or her lover. All states have their own rules about how adultery affects the dissolution of the marriage and the outcome of divorce financial decisions.

What Not To Do

Don’t Badmouth Your Ex

Today, in the world of total transparency about our lives, we are sometimes tempted to say something negative about our ex on social media sites. I know it is very, very inviting to “get “our” story out there, especially when he is often telling a completely different story about what is going on in our lives. There are several reasons not to bad mouth your ex.

  1. 1.Legal difficulties – Your divorce comments on social media might impact his job and his ability to support you like you deserve. Facebook, Instagram, Twitter messages and photos can all be used as evidence that one or the other of you have been unfaithful. That again may affect how alimony and child support decisions are made.
  2. Embarrassing your children – Depending on their ages, your children usually don’t want the family “divorce dirty laundry” on your Facebook page or in an Instagram post where friends or their friends’ parents might see it. They are struggling with enough as it is without everyone in their world knowing about all the family drama.
  3. Posting divorce stories on social media makes you look petty and small. Focus all of your energy on getting better yourself and not on trying to “get even” on social media. The real story will come out eventually. Instead of trying to get even by posting a derogatory tweet or Facebook or Instagram message, concentrate on this one question every single day instead: “What can I do today to get closer to the life I have deserved all along?” And then take some small action in that direction. 

Take the high road! Don’t trash talk your ex on social media!

Stalking Your Ex

You shouldn’t be stalking your ex physically which is dangerous in a lot of ways. You also shouldn’t be stalking your ex or STBX on social media either. It’s humiliating and it doesn’t do any good at all. Finding out all the dirty details usually makes you more miserable.

Discuss Your Breakup/Divorce

Research has shown that when we keep talking about our divorce, we keep reinforcing our pain over and over. It imprints in our brain. It’s the same when we air all the gory details of our breakup or divorce online.

If your sob story goes on too long (even if it’s true!), people start losing respect for both of you. The details can be hurtful to children, other relatives and friends. You can speak openly and honestly to a few good friends and family members, but other than that, keep the ugly stuff to yourself.

Social Media Situations After Divorces & Breakups

Should I Unfollow, Unfriend Or Block My Ex?

Below are the different types of disconnecting from your husband’s (or soon to be ex-husband’s) social media sites. In my opinion, and in the opinions of women from our online community, staying connected to your ex or STBX on social media is detrimental in lots of ways. First let’s get some clarity on the different types of stepping back from social media during or after divorce.

Unfriending vs. Blocking vs. Unfollowing

When I googled “What’s the difference between unfriending, blocking and unfollowing on social media?, the response was:

Unfriending lets you remove someone from your friends list, without notifying the person that you have done so. However, you’d still be able to see his/her profile or posts.

Blocking lets you disconnect completely from the person you’re blocking, meaning you two are invisible to each other.

Unfollowing is you won’t see their posts in the News Feed, but you’ll still be friends with them.”

Each platform has its own directions to make those actions happen.

Why Did My Ex Follow Me?

Who knows what is in the mind of your ex when he suddenly begins following you again. You may have had a joint page with him and now you have your own Facebook or Twitter or Instagram accounts. Don’t try to figure out his actions. Your job is to figure out what is best for you moving forward.

Should I Follow My Ex Back?

Still there is that pain in your chest when your spouse of years or decades has definitely moved on and is flaunting it. My advice is “No! Definitely do NOT follow your ex back!” The best thing for him (and especially for you) is for you to create an amazing, fulfilling, fun new life for yourself whether you ever post it on social media or not!

Why Does My Ex Like & View My Posts?

I am convinced that often these guys (or gals) like to play with our brain as well as mess with our hearts, when they like our post or comment. They often try to let the world know that they are the bigger person in this divorce situation … and a really nice guy! It’s infuriating but true. He is usually more interested in getting you to look at his social media posts and seeing how wonderful his life is than the other way around. It’s sort of sick, really!

RADiCAL Women Speak About Social Media and Divorce…especially as it affects healing and moving on. 

(Remember: RADiCAL = Rising Above Divorce in Confidence And Love)

Below are thoughts from women in our MDRcommunity about social media in general, but also the benefits of cutting the cords of on-line and in person connections with your ex as much as possible. It is so helpful to have a whole tribe of women who know how your heart is feeling and to share wisdom and encouragement with. Join us!

“It is hard to go “no contact” and not know what your wasband is doing after 32 years of closeness. But … I think it has been helpful to not have the option of talking to him or seeing what he is doing. The attachment is so deep and omnipresent it would have taken me longer, if not forever to get where I am now.” – TP

“I believe it is much better to totally block him and her from social media. Just as it is better to go no contact as much as possible on the phone, text, email. Every time he talks or texts me, it sends me on a tailspin for a day or two. I do not want to know what he is doing. All it would do is hurt me … The fact is that he is gone, and that is not going to change. Accepting that is the beginning of healing.” – F

“I was lucky to never have been on social media, so I wasn’t tempted to look, but some friends (?) would from time to time pry into Wasband’s info and forward it to me. It was staggering how much it hurt. To see them together with their arms around each other was a huge blow. I asked my friends to please never send me anything like that again! It’s soul-killing a bit at a time. What you don’t know can’t hurt you and I’d much rather not know. Going no contact has helped immensely, too.” – JV

“I admit that I would skulk her (OW) page every once in a while … but by going no contact and choosing not to hurt myself by going back to her page made life a bit easier. I have not spoken to X since he left; told him unless it is an emergency about our child, I don’t want to hear from him.” – FG

“I have never been on social media and Wasband hardly ever went on Facebook until he wanted to post his girlfriends. I must say I have learned some useful info for legal purposes. I think if you can have a loyal friend monitor it and just tell you stuff you may need for legal purposes, it is OK. But I agree it can be very hurtful.” – OD

“I blocked mine on social media. My STBX has to post his activities all the time to show everyone how great his life is. If you have to do that perhaps your life is not all that great? I have an account but have not posted to it since before D day.” – D&R

Conclusion

Your job during and after divorce is YOU! Taking care of yourself physically, emotionally, intellectually, socially, spiritually and in every other way possible must be your main concern! Keeping tabs on your ex’s Social Media sites is not helpful in your journey forward. In fact, it keeps you stuck in the “divorce pit” for longer than necessary.

5-Day Divorce Recovery Crash Course. Take the first steps in your recovery and start healing today! Send me the free emails
5-Day Divorce Recovery Crash Course. Take the first steps in your recovery and start healing today! Send me the free emails