Social Media Rules of Engagement: When Is It Okay to Follow an Ex?

You meet, sparks fly, plans are made, parents are met and hands are held. The person to whom your heart belongs stares at you from across the couch as the Netflix show you’re watching–“your show” you call it, as the rules of love allow you to—pauses.

“What’s up, babe?” you ask, having long since forgotten the first name of the person you’ve dedicated the last seven months of your life to, throwing it aside in favor of an over-utilized pet name to fit in with the masses of other mindless love-addled lemmings.

“Blank,” they say—your first name is blank, for the sake of this piece, the only notable takeaway from your paramore addressing you in such a way is that they are not using a pet name. This is as stern and shocking as your parents using your middle name. “Blank,” they repeat, making eye contact, but not in the mushy, lovey-dovey way you’re used to. “I’ve been thinking.”

Uh oh. You don’t like it when they think. They haven’t had a good thought in months. You remember the first time you lay together, cuddling, and they asked you what you were thinking about. “You,” you had giggled. That was the last time a discussion of thoughts had gone well. This did not seem similar.

“Okay,” you acknowledge them, your heart pounding. “What’s up?”

“I just haven’t really been happy lately,” they explain to you, as you realize that they are a fraud, that whatever period of time in which they had been unhappy they had been lying to you, acting as if everything was okay, not allowing you to pick up on the signs. Your ability to trust people is worsening by the second as you struggle to comprehend what is happening. “I don’t think this is working out.”

Like a glass shattering inside your brain and sprinkling broken shards into your heart, you’re stunned and pained. It’s as if your partner had prepared emotionally and socially for the last several weeks for their departure from this relationship, and you have been given notice of a massive life change, effective immediately. You run through scenarios in your mind, trying to block the inevitable pain that is about to hit your soul as you search for answers, but none are to be given. You’re alone, broken, confused. This is the next chapter for you, and it’s not one to which you look forward.

Now, what is to be done with your social media? Do you delete old pictures of the two of you from your Instagram, or leave them up, allowing your page to be a shrine to lovers past, a history of your romances over the years. Do you continue to follow their friends, people you got along with but with whom you would never get through more than a five minute conversation alone? Do you go ghost protocol on social media and delete it all? That’s for each person to determine themselves. But as for when it’s okay to follow an ex?


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