Nikki Grey
August 05, 2016 9:52 am
TV Land

Social media is great for many reasons, but social media etiquette can be tricky.

When a friend goes through a breakup and you’re still friends with their ex online — what do you do?

There are many, many reasons why you may maintain connections with a pal’s ex (on social media or otherwise). For example, if you’re  genuinely friends with both people, then you shouldn’t have to give up either relationship. And even if you’re better friends with one person, it doesn’t mean you have to stop caring about the other.

If you don’t have a solid relationship with your friend’s ex, the act of removing them from your online life can still cause more trouble than it’s worth. If you don’t want to see the ex’s posts anymore, you can always hide them on Facebook so their updates don’t show up on your feed. You can also remove them from your lists on Twitter, or do whatever else you need to do so you don’t have to see what they are up to anymore.

And anyway, we are all adults, right? It can seem silly to make such a big deal over social media.

This is all true, but as we all know — breakups can be messy. There are circumstances in which deleting a friend’s ex from your social media makes sense, and deleting them respects the wishes of those involved and the circumstances of the breakup. Here a few reasons to consider removing your friend’s ex from your social media life.

Your friend is using you for intel

Your friend is using you for intel

If your friend removes their ex from their online accounts, but is still curious and asks you to creep on the other person, that could make you very uncomfortable. Even if it doesn’t actually bother you personally, giving your friend updates on their ex’s life could prolong your friend’s grieving/anger/or whatever emotion they’re going through — as well as involve you in something that’s not really your business. You can always simply tell your pal that you don’t want to do that. If your friend wants to find out how their ex is handling things, if their ex is seeing anyone new, etc., then your friend can ask that person themselves. It’s not your job to be their spy. But if your pal won’t listen to, or you would rather avoid that conversation altogether — go ahead and delete the person. (But that’s only easy to do if you personally are not friends with the ex IRL, or don’t have a real relationship with them.)

Similarly, consider that your friend might not want to know all about their ex, even if you do maintain a connection with the ex through social media. Even if your pal doesn’t care that you still follow each other on Instagram, it doesn’t necessarily mean they want updates on their ex’s every move, either.

You need to respect your friend’s privacy

You need to respect your friend’s privacy

One thing to remember is that if you stay connected with your friend’s ex on social media and you also share photos of the things you and your pal do together — your friends list will have access to that information (unless you set your privacy settings to exclude certain people.) Ask your friend if they are comfortable with an ex seeing the happenings of their life. You need to make sure you are respecting your friend’s privacy.

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It’s a way to show solidarity

It’s a way to show solidarity

Depending on the circumstances of the breakup, you may want to delete your pal’s ex from FB and IG to show solidarity with your friend. If the ex treated your friend poorly, eliminating this person from your life as much as possible — including from your social media friends lists  — is a way to show support.

The ex is using social media for unwanted communication with you

The ex is using social media for unwanted communication with you

If your friend’s former lover is using social media to message you, like all of your posts, or even worse — flirt with you or ask you to hang out (when that was never your kind of relationship) — this should be a red flag. You don’t know their reasoning for the new behavior, and you can ask about their intentions if you want to — but if you want to remain free of the drama, it might be easiest to disconnect with the person online.

Jordin Althaus/NBC/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images

Your social media accounts are yours, so if you don’t want to distance yourself from someone online (or IRL, for that matter), that is absolutely your decision to make.

Your friends shouldn’t make the decision for you — though you should absolutely be sure to respect their privacy regarding what you post about them. The end of a relationship is usually difficult for at least one person— whether it’s for either of the people in the relationship, their mutual friends,  their family, etc. — and social media can definitely complicate things.

Whatever you decide to do, try to be sensitive to the other people involved. If you don’t allow yourself to become part of the problem, then you should be fine.

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