‘My Ex’s Social Media Shows No Trace of Our Relationship. How Do I Cope?’
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Here’s an “Ask Dr. Greg” Q&A that tackles something nearly everyone has been through: a breakup.
My boyfriend broke up with me six months ago, and I can’t stop thinking about him. Whenever I go out with someone else, I end up talking about him and the new guy won’t call me back. When I hookup with someone, I end up fantasizing about my boyfriend. I still look at his Instagram, and none of it’s about me anymore. He doesn’t look sad in his posts. He even took a trip and looked so happy with a group of friends I didn’t even recognize. How do I cope with him being so happy while I’m sad everyday? —David, Philadelphia
David, life isn’t fair, and neither are breakups. In relationships, there is always one who loves a little more during your time together and one who feels more heartache when it’s over. In this case, that’s you. In addition, the thought of breaking up with you likely popped into his head long before he did it, but your process didn’t start until he dropped the bomb. So you are behind him on the path to recovery, and it may end up being longer and more painful than his. Even so, you really don’t know what he’s going through, and you shouldn’t trust social media.
Life on social media is curated. People only put up things they want others to see, not necessarily how they are experiencing life. Your ex-boyfriend is putting up pictures that reflect an image of a happy man who is actively experiencing and caring about the world. For all anyone knows, he went on the trip to deal with his grief about you. People’s inner lives are not all they appear to be — especially on social media.
But the real issue here is not what he’s doing but what you are not doing. You are not letting him go. Your obsession over him and your compulsive checking of his social media and babbling about him on dates is a desperate attempt to stay engaged. You are clinging to the relationship you had, and you’re sabotaging new things to come. With every click you hope to see a picture or post about his misery and pain, don’t you? Why? Because you are vengeful? No. But you would like to see him suffer at bit and even the score. Then maybe, just maybe, you might be willing to take him back.
The best thing you could do right now is to delete your social ties to him — block him, unfollow him, change his number in your phone to someone you would never call, like “Beelzebub” or “Steve Bannon.” Then, as you begin to feel the impact of not knowing his every posted move, you will start to feel the sadness and grief that has been blocked behind a dam of hope — hope that either you will get back together or that he is living a miserable life.
Take a weekend to just put a blanket around yourself, let the tears flow, eat comfort food and watch your favorite films. Wallow in your pain. Also, stay off the phone and internet. When Monday rolls around, you’ll start the process of accepting that he’s gone and the relationship is over. It may take a little more time to completely heal, but afterwards you will have an easier time focusing on the man in your bed rather than the one in your head.
Dr. Greg Cason is a licensed psychologist working in Los Angeles who has been featured on several TV shows, including Bravo’s L.A. Shrinks. Contact him by visiting DrGreg.com, and find him on Twitter: @DrGregCason
This article was originally published on Feb. 7, 2017. It has since been updated.