I would consider myself a seasoned vet in the field of lingering ex-boyfriends. I’m not proud of it, but I’m proud that after three and a half years of being in a broken-up-but-act-like-we’re-together-and-sometimes-making-out-on-my-couch relationship with my ex-boyfriend, I finally got things in check and decided to let go. While I didn’t think there was an end to my misery, (because for so long the end was happily ever after with him, ironically) deleting him *and his mother* from my friends list on Facebook, unfollowing him on Twitter, and resisting the urge to later follow him on his new Instagram account, were by far the best things I ever did for myself in terms of this relationship. Here’s why I think everyone in my situation could benefit from cutting it off online:

1. You’ll learn self control like you’ve never known

Everyone tells you: DO NOT STALK YOUR EX ON SOCIAL MEDIA. Great in theory, difficult in practice. You want to know what he had for dinner so you can causally linger around that place—or maybe avoid it, in my case—or who his friends are these days, mostly which girls he’s hanging out with. Just stop. Force yourself to close the window, or go to a different site. Read a book. Watch Netflix. Read an article. Make a snack. ANYTHING to break your focus and eventually your habit.

I learned the hard way that only I was in control of what information I allowed myself to reach for and let my brain process. I stopped asking questions I knew I truly did not want answers to, and stopped looking for tweets and tagged pictures I didn’t want to see, and mostly didn’t need to see for my own sweet sanity. Once I did, the misery started to lessen.

2. You’ll actually have something to talk about

Basically, you already know about that fun road trip your friend went on or seen 15 videos of your other friends’ new baby girl so you know she can walk, talk, and roll over. You already know what they’ve been doing, what’s the point in “catching up” if you can just check their Twitter feed? Same concept with your ex. In the event you do make an attempt at a civil, friendly relationship, you’re probably going to be in contact.

How can you have that awkward yet necessary small talk if you already knew he met that one guy from that one band he loves because you saw six photos he posted last weekend? If you bring it up, then the story is practically half over. If you don’t say anything, you’re going to have to fake that you didn’t know about it so it doesn’t end the conversation. I learned that I could actually be excited and happy about my ex’s life when he was the one telling me for the first time. We actually could hold a conversation for more than 30 minutes before there was nothing left to talk about besides the old heartbreak and unhealed wounds.

3. He/she will show up in unexpected areas of your news feed

You when that impossibly cute girl he hooks up with likes one of his photos and it pops up on your news feed even though you’ve deleted him? Yeah, time to delete her from your friends too because chances are it’ll only get worse.

4. It’s OK to cut losses on other “friendships” that aren’t supportive

Go ahead and unfollow that girl (and others) on Twitter and Instagram too because they’ll go out together and she will surely filter and post that pic with some caption that makes your insides contract. Cutting ties with the ex and those similarly related to them, whom you are not in friendly contact with, is totally fine. If the association of them to your ex is so strong that it’s all you think about when you see them and it hurts, it’s not healthy and it’s time to make decisions to benefit you.

5. If you stop keeping up with his/her life, you’ll move forward with your own

Although it does depend on your situation, most of us want to move on but secretly without really moving on. You know, that weird gray area where you really want to go out and do your own thing but keep him on the back burner and have him sit and wait and want you and only you? Yeah, DANGER. That’s not moving on. It’s like being caught in the waves on a beach. You’re gonna get tossed around a few times, lose your breath, catch one bit of air then get thrown back in the wave. You’ll come out of it exhausted and choking on your own misfortune.

6. I promise, you’ll learn to love yourself more

I know this doesn’t seem related but believe me it has everything to do with it. Once we broke up, he didn’t need to cater to my emotional needs. He didn’t need to tell me I was pretty anymore, so I compared myself to whatever girls he was moving on with, and in my eyes they were so much better than me.

I felt so “blah” compared to them and questioned my worth when he looked so happy without me. Why was I comparing myself to these girls? I wanted to find some sort of standard but couldn’t. It made me sad to see that he was now with these “beautiful women” and during times when we were happily broken up, he wouldn’t tell me I was beautiful anymore. Because, duh, that’s crossing lines but making out totally isn’t. Once I left him alone in the cyber world, I learned to enjoy myself and that I had worth and that I was beautiful and I was leading a beautiful, awesome life. I stopped checking up on him and started checking in on myself. I looked at my own Instagram pictures and my own Facebook wall and started appreciating my friends and family more, and how much fun we were having in these pictures, and the stupid videos we were leaving on each other’s walls and really started loving and living my life. And you know what? He wasn’t apart of any of those things, yet I still knew how to smile.

I’m here to tell you that I survived after all this time and it is possible to get over someone you once loved and cared for with everything you had. And in our world, your first step truly is to unfollow and unfriend, even if you have his number forever memorized. Consider it a 21st century detox.

My wounds are fresh, like a couple weeks fresh, but it’s okay because I’m finally feeling that “hurts so good” kind of soreness—the kind of soreness you get a day later after a killer but awesome workout. That’s how you know you’ve done it right. So go ahead, start your trackpads and get to clicking that unfollow button!

Melissa Silverman is a college student who looks forward to the time when she will be responsible enough to have her own dog. In her spare time she reads many YA novels and dreams of being able to work for Katy Perry.

(Featured image via)