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How to Deal with an Ex on Facebook

Should you unfriend an ex on Facebook? Social Q's author Philip Galanes shares his tips for dealing with an ex in social mediaAvoid airing your dirty laundry after love goes south, and learn when to defriend someone on Facebook… gradually. From Social Q’s: How to Survive the Quirks, Quandaries, and Quagmires of Today by Philip Galanes.

And so it follows, as the night unto the day, that when romance ends, Facebook friendships can become a tad sticky. But judging from the number of letters I’ve received from men and women who are FURIOUS at being summarily defriended—or, as they put it, “cut out of my ex’s life”—I suggest caution.

One guy simply couldn’t bear the sight of all those status updates from his ex or her family members. (Mary’s going to Trader Joe’s, Mary feels chipper this morning, Mary’s eating Nutella straight from the jar. Who cares, Mary? It’s almost enough to cause the breakup in the first place.) But when this poor fellow defriended his ex, their otherwise amicable breakup turned nuclear. The ex announced to all the world (via her Facebook page) that he’d always been “a lousy lover.” She then proceeded to destroy his precious collection of vinyl records. Ouch!

So if you want to be a congenial ex, make no sudden moves, online or otherwise, while nerves are still raw. Leave everything status quo for a few weeks, then begin a meticulous pyramid of defriendings: Prune out the ex’s distant relatives, then casual friends, then immediate family and posse—in that order—and leave several days between groups. Boot the ex after a period of pure silence.

Start with one month, then add another for every year you were together. Make sure to restart the clock after intervening messages and drunk-dialing episodes! And if amicability isn’t your strong suit, wait two and a half minutes after you’ve retrieved the LAST of your belongings, then defriend your heart out!


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