In an age where our digital connections tend to outlast our personal ones, we have to be careful about how we sever ties. Facebook is commonly recognized as the biggest offender, but it turns out there are a number of social apps that have invented endless ways of making us suffer. If you don't break up and disconnect in every way possible, living with those connections takes etiquette, strength and caution to maintain — and that's not even including maintaining your sanity.
Here's a handy guide of hacks for the break-up terrain:
No matter how much you hate your ex, you might still want to use them as a professional connection someday. Plus, there's an understanding among 20-somethings that LinkedIn interactions are job-related only, and have few social implications.
Hack: Never look at their profile (LinkedIn will tell them if you do, assuming they have a premium account). Only reach out if you really need their help. When you do, be sure to write a nice letter (see above).
Remember: 'Tis better to have loved and lost than never to have connected on LinkedIn.
You may have fond memories of using this app for time-release sexting (no? Just me?), but sadly, those days are gone. At least the whole point of Snapchat is to make things disappear — if your ex keeps sending pictures of her and that new boyfriend, rest assured they'll go away in under 10 seconds.
Hack: The "Best Friends" list is visible to everyone and is the devil's work. Don't send your ex any photos — it'll help keep them off your Best Friends and Recent lists (which they are probably already on). Also, avoid looking at the Stories section — there's never stuff worth seeing there, anyway.
Remember: Pain is temporary. So are Snapchats.
Twitter is mainly a professional network, but it's also fairly intimate. If you follow your ex, be prepared to catch witty play-by-plays that'll make you fall right back in love again. You can't really unfollow tactfully, since people watch their Twitter followers as closely as they do their children. Just think of it as an exercise in averting your eyes.
Hack: Try not to favorite anything for a while. Twitter moves fast, but it's hard not to look like you're ravenous for updates on an ex's life. And subtweets make you look petty — unless they're #humblebrags.
Remember: Dance like no one's watching. Subtweet like you've never been hurt.
4. Words With Friends
Like love, break-ups are all about timing, and the worst possible time to break-up is in the middle of a game of Words With Friends. Not only does it make the stakes impossibly high, but also it means you have to stick around until someone (hopefully you) wins.
Hack: Kick his ass, then start playing Candy Crush instead.
Remember: You love Zynga, but you're not in love with Zynga.
The stealthiest of all social networks, Venmo lets you see what your phone contacts are spending money on — and who they're spending it with. Seeing your ex pay for "Dinner With ____" is going to hurt. Seeing her get paid for "That Concert You Bought The Tickets To" is going to hurt more. Seeing him get paid, passive-aggressively, for the "Date You Said You Were Going to Pay For and Didn't" will hurt less.
Hack: Try to use PayPal whenever possible, or finally take your best friend's advice and delete your ex's number from your phone.
Remember: Speak softly, and carry cash.
6. Foursquare/Find My Friends
Simply by downloading these apps, you've taken the first step in admitting you're a stalker (don't worry — they're both riding the top of the iTunes charts, so you're not alone). But with GPS burning a hole in your pocket, it can be tough to curb your natural instincts to follow your ex's every move. There's only one way out, and you're not going to like it.
Hack: Delete the app. (Please, don't kill the messenger! I know you know where I live.)
Remember: Two's company, three's a crowd and keeping tabs on the exact geo-location of all your friends is always creepy.
When your ex infiltrates your music library, things get real. Your playlists will remind you of all the moments you two shared, and you'll be able to see how she's handling things on a scale of Cee-Lo to Sea Change. But use caution when getting introspective — especially when imagining the reasons she might be listening to Miguel.
Hack: Unfollow. Most people don't regularly check their Spotify numbers, and getting your ex out of your sidebar is worth the risk. But unfollowing your ex won't force them to unfollow you, so if you're going to listen to "Someone Like You" on repeat, be sure to make it a private session.
Remember: It's hard to stop loving someone when your music streaming service still does.
Great, now you can literally see the world through your ex's eyes. But no matter how much you need an escape, don't be too quick to break ties — you're bound to get productively (as opposed to destructively) nosy someday, and this is the best platform for stalking.
Hack: If your ex has a public profile, unfollow, and take to the search bar when you need to go down a rabbit hole. If it's a private profile, get a friend to follow (wait until approval is granted). Also, never like anything your ex posts again — he doesn't deserve your double-taps.
Remember: Relationships may come and go, but unfollowing a private Instagram is forever.
My condolences to those exes who met on Tinder, as that makes it doubly awkward when you both create new profiles and stumble across each other. Swiping left guarantees no interaction, but where's the fun in that? (Trick question: You're not looking for fun — you're looking to heal gaping wounds.)
Hack: Swipe left. You'll thank yourself — especially if your ex did the same thing.
Remember: To Tinder you may be one person, but to one person, you mean a lot more than Tinder.