Singer Paul Simon famously sang about 50 Ways to Leave your Lover, but that was way before Facebook invented other ways – defriending or changing your relationship status.
Facebook is the forum where many people actually meet new partners – and the lead up getting to know someone online can mimic old fashioned romance, with letters and messages, that first exciting live chat online or on your mobile, plus receiving new images of your digital lover that confirm they really are gorgeous/handsome/fit/everything you ever dreamed of.
Hopefully you will meet, fall in love in the real world and live happily every after.
But sometimes the digital fairytale fails to load and one day you log in to your Facebook account – perhaps a secret one if you are married already – and discover that all those romantic messages, photos, virtual kisses and pledges of undying devotion have simply disappeared, along with the image of your loved one on your friends list: you have, in other words, been digitally dumped.
Losing a loved one in the virtual world can be every bit as painful as in the real world. It is also very public, as your other friends will most likely have been sharing the romance online, reading the messages of devotion and images of you two in a photo booth together, or just generally mooning about online.
One survey has found that 25% of those questioned first discovered they had been dumped on Facebook, so you are not alone, painful though this may be.
Your lover may have explained why this is their last message – but most likely not, so you have been left feeling utterly bereaved if their status has suddenly become single, or they are pictured with someone else or have defriended you.
The temptation is to close your Facebook account – but the hope is if you keep it open, they will return to your online trysts and happiness will be restored.
If you feel you cannot face Facebook after a split, either do not post for a while or deactivate the account until you feel you want to go online again.
Don’t be tempted to air your grievances on Facebook, as any publication (including Twitter or other social media sites) is subject to the laws of libel.
Getting over being digitally dumped on Facebook
- The first stage to getting over being dumped on Facebook is to accept you are entitled to feel unhappy – and also entitled to be given an explanation, although chances are your friend will not offer any and this you must accept also.
- If you have the chance, address how they have behaved in a calm letter or private message. There was no point to dumping or defriending you without explanation, when they could simply have told you the relationship was over. Stating how you feel calmly will make you feel more in control of what has happened and dignity is everything when you have been cruelly dumped, especially online.
- Announcing the split. All your friends following your romance will soon suss that something is up, so add a simple message along the lines of “X and I are no longer together or in touch on Facebook [if you have been defriended] and I am looking forward to moving on.” End of story.
- If you wish to remain friends with X, hide their feed until you feel ready to see what they are getting up to – take comfort from the fact it is going to be a whole lot less interesting than you imagine.
- Sitting outside their house or stalking X online will only make you fearful, paranoid and depressed about what you think you did wrong in the relationship. Adding new friends to your Facebook list will make you feel empowered, popular and as if you are moving on with your life (let X stalk you and see what you are up to – there will be plenty to see, starting with a new cover photo). You may have loved X, but on Facebook you have the entire planet (almost) to get to know, so fill up the hours you spent online with X by getting to know new Facebook friends and signing up to new groups. It will hurt, but do it – and anyone who is even vaguely better looking or more talented and successful than X should be on your ever growing list of new friends.
- Go on holiday or away for a weekend break – you need a well- deserved boost and some lovely new photos for all your new Facebook friends to enjoy. After being dumped on Facebook, you may feel you look awful in photos – depressed, red eyed, miserable, pleading for X to come back. Never upload unhappy photos to Facebook, as you will feel even worse seeing them – happy photos of roller skating hamsters and sunflowers, your friends, your holiday or new hobby and cat videos will cheer you up, until one day you will notice you are smiling again.
- Confide in your real friends and practise being happy again on your virtual ones. Chat online about things you like, not X, and pretty soon you will begin to feel life on Facebook has moved on. Don’t scare off a potentially great new friend by complaining about what X did – it will only hold you back.
- In time you will meet someone new. Your time with X in real life and on Facebook will always be special – and somehow you will always be there in the virtual world you shared together, even if it is over in real life. Facebook may be virtual, but feelings can be very real and painful, just like life. But from pain you grow and develop and learn to love again with someone else.
As for X, it really is their loss – and in time you will stop making excuses for their behaviour. Besides which, didn’t you block them months ago?
Help for Depression after a relationship ends on Facebook
If you suffer long-term depression after a Facebook defriending or your relationship ends on Facebook, do not be afraid to seek counselling from your GP.
The NHS can provide seven free counselling sessions via a GP surgery, so do see your doctor if you are unable to come to terms with the end of a Facebook friendship after a few months have passed – especially if you are:
- sleeping more during the day or staying awake all night
- depression is affecting your ability to study, work or care for your family
- you are using food, tobacco (smoking), alcohol, drugs or over-the-counter medication to help you through depression
- you experience mood swings, including unusual aggression, negativity or crying episodes.
Your GP will be able to recommend the best support and therapy to help you through a painful time –and getting help will get you back on track much sooner.
If you have suffered a similar situations its always best to get advice from a divorce solicitor to ensure you reach the best outcome.