By Chiara Atik at HowAboutWe.com
Rumor has it that Demi Moore and Ashton Kutcher have broken up; we know this because Demi cryptically tweeted something that sent gossiping tongues wagging. If they do break up, it's going to be awkward for her to have to change her twitter handle from "@MrsKutcher" to..."@ExMrsKutcher?"
As Demi and Ashton might be on their way to finding out, technology has made messy breakups even messier. Here are some tips on how to tactfully deal with the demise of a relationship -- online.
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1. Avoid The Temptation To Flirt Publicly First of all, it's more obvious than you might realize (to your ex, and to anyone who knows about your break-up). Secondly, you don't want your ex to take a cue from you and start publicly flirting with someone else.
2. Don't Post Cryptic Status Updates Or Song Lyrics It's basically the equivalent of posting: "PLEASE ASK ME ABOUT MY BREAK-UP."
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3. Be Judicious In When To Unfriend/Unfollow Unfriending someone the second you break up can sometimes seem a bit rash, and depending on the circumstances of your breakup, can be extra hurtful to the other person. Better to calmly unfriend or unfollow after a day or two.
4. The "In A Relationship" Status If you instigated the break-up, you might want to give your ex a few days to take down the In A Relationship status first themselves -- it's a small, surprisingly empowering gesture that can help them feel a little less dumped. But if, after a few days, they still haven't done it, go ahead and pull the trigger yourself -- you don't want to lead them on, or give them any reason to believe you're having second thoughts.
Otherwise: rip that bandaid off! Better you do it than your ex!
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5. Consider A "Mourning Period" In Victorian England, bereaved women would go into intense periods of mourning, often avoiding public life for a year or so before re-emerging. We're not suggesting you stay home, but a few days off of social media gives both people in the break-up a chance to go through those initial, rocky moments without saying (or reading) something tactless on Facebook, Twitter, or a blog. Even if you're thrilled about the break-up and have had no troule recovering with your friends, it's probably more tactful to avoid oversharing for the first few days, so that your ex doesn't have to see that you're having (or trying to have) the "BEST NIGHT EVER!!!!! LOVE MY GIRLS!" For example.
6. Should You Unfriend Your Ex's Friends? If you absolutely hate them and feel like you'll never be forced to interact again? Yes. If you're worried about seeing your ex pop up in their stream, which would be hard for you to deal with? Unfriend.
Otherwise, no. At this point, being "friends" on a social media network doesn't really mean you're friends in real life. You can block them/change your privacy settings if you aren't comfortable with their full access to your life.
If you really liked your ex's friends, and want to continue to interact with them, definitely wait a few months before tweeting at them or "liking" a Facebook post -- and then gauge their reaction. If they don't respond, don't try again: losing their friendship might be the unfortunate collateral of your break-up.
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7. And For The Next Relationship... Here's something to remember: the more present you are on social media as a couple, via tweets, Facebook statuses, pictures, check-ins, etc., the more obvious a sudden absence or change will be. For example, from this People.com article about the rumored Ashton & Demi split:
"[T]he two - who are currently on different coasts - have curbed their prolific Tweeting in some possibly telling ways. [...] The actor also refrained from Tweeting anything on his wedding anniversary." So sure, it's tempting to shout your love from the rooftops, but the more private you are about your relationships, the less awkwardness you'll have to deal with if you ever eventually break up.
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The Date Report is the blog of HowAboutWe.com, a dating site that makes it fun and easy to go on awesome dates. How it works: 1) Invent fun dates. 2) Ask people out. 3) Do something awesome, together. Sign up for free here. Don't forget to join us on Twitter and Facebook -- and download our iPhone app here!