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I’m out of questions, so this week I’m answering one I got IRL. If you have any questions about any kind of relationship issue you’re having, shoot me an email at email@example.com or send a Facebook message. You remain anonymous, and if the question is beyond my expertise, I bring in a professional to help me out.
In late June, I was in Lexington at Awesome Inc for the first ever Lexington Entrepreneurship Day. My colleague was getting everything set up for our weekly live stream, and I was chatting with our guest, Keith, who heads the fellowship program for Awesome Inc. It came up that I write a relationship advice column (because it always comes up. A U.S. Border Patrol agent asked me what I do as I was heading into Canada, and he was so tickled by it he said he was going to look me up). And Keith had a question:
After a breakup, should you delete all the photographic evidence of the relationship from your social media?
Keith is happily married, but he said he never encountered this issue during his dating days because he’s made a habit of deleting his Facebook and starting a fresh one every few years. My colleague isn’t big on social media, in general. He’s that friend you forget even has an account when you see a post from them.
When my ex and I were together, social media had just really become a thing. Like, when we broke up, I deleted most of the photos of him off my Facebook and had even more to delete off my Myspace. I remained single and he immediately hopped into a new relationship. He also didn’t delete any of our old pics off his social media (I may have logged into his Myspace and deleted my photos off his page myself… ). I don’t think he was taking any kind of major stance. I think he’s just the kind of guy who doesn’t take social media all that seriously. It’s not like he kept a pic of us together as his profile photo while dating someone else. He wasn’t being actively disrespectful to his new partner.
Instagram moves at a much faster clip, so photos tend to get buried quicker. IG also doesn’t make it easy to delete tons of photos at once, so I could see how someone would maybe not bother and just let time take care of it. I’m pretty sure I left up that pic of me and the dude who cheated on me because the comments under it from my friends dragging him are so epically funny. But we also only had like two pics. He wasn’t anything major in my life.
Now, let’s say the next relationship I’m in ain’t the one that’s going to last me a lifetime, but I’ve got a gazillion pics of me and bae all over my social media… well, yeah… I do think I’d probably delete them. I have a few reasons for this. First, it generally signals to the world and people who might not otherwise be aware, that your relationship has ended and you are ready to move on. This lets people know not to ask you about that asshole and gives the signal to those interested in dating you that you’re available again.
Also, I just wouldn’t want a bunch of reminders of that person hanging around. Why should your digital space be any different than your physical space? If you’d take the photos off the wall, burn their letters and throw out their gifts, then it shouldn’t be that big a leap to do it online too. I even unfriended my ex on Facebook for a while, until I could resume being friends with him without obsessing over his every post and could, you know, just have a direct convo with him like friends do in real life. You have to do whatever is in the best interest of your heart when it comes to online pics.
And I think it’s the considerate thing to do for the person you date next, so they don’t have to see those couple pics of you with someone else, but it’s also that Louisville is a small city. Not only are they going to fill in their own details about your past relationship, but they may know that person or have some mutuals with them and start asking around. I don’t want that. I want to be the one who decides what details they do and don’t need about my dating past.
So, I’m pro deleting pics from past relationships, but I could be swayed otherwise. What do you think readers? Have you been in this situation before? In what other ways does social media make a breakup more challenging?