By Sarah Rae, BounceBack Editorial Staff
Part of bouncing back requires reclaiming your life so that you can grow and move forward. Since social networking plays such a large part in our day-to-day interactions, we want our profiles to reflect who we are and where we're going. There's much to consider changing after a breakup, from photos of you and the ex to the extent to which you share things with mutual friends. First of all, take it easy. Don't go change your profile as soon as it's over. Stay offline for a spell and collect yourself. You don't want to do anything rash. Remember your friends are on there and that anything you do on Facebook is the equivalent to shouting from the rooftop. Like any major life event you want to get everything into perspective so you can keep your social networking light.
1. Alright, now calmly log into your account. View your profile and in the top right corner click Edit Profile. Changing the relationship status may be the hardest part. Don't bother with the other options, be honest with yourself. If it's time to select Single, do it, even if It's complicated. You're either together or you're not, and the sooner you rip off that bandage the closer you'll be to bouncing back.
2. How much do you want your ex to know? You must consider what you want mutual friends and the ex's family to have access to. Under the Account drop-down menu you'll see the option Privacy Settings. Click Custom and customize settings. Here you can limit all activity on your account. It's not all or nothing, you can specify exactly who can see and comment on things you post, get tagged in, or what other people share on your wall. Be careful not to "punish" people. This is about having some much-needed space between you and the ex. Would it be best if they don't know who you're spending your time with or what you're doing now? Sometimes we wait to secure these privacy boundaries until we're already getting into another relationship. Don't wait.
3. Old photos of the ex can be a tricky thing. Do you delete them or not? Personally I know a number of people who resent seeing old pictures of themselves on their ex's Facebook. Think about your future relationships, how might it make a future-significant-other feel. Do you crop the ex out of all the pictures? No picture of yourself is worth cropping your ex out of. It's a brand new day, time to look forward and get rid of the old photos. What about the one with the two of you standing in front of the Coliseum? Look, if you're really attached to the photo, take it down and think about uploading it to your profile again in the future when the dust has settled.
4. What about photos you and the ex are tagged in that belong to other people? Because sometimes people post rather unflattering photographs of us, the steadfast rule for tagging is that is: If the person doesn't want to be identified in this photo that's their business. It's nothing personal. Someone might think it's a very lovely picture of you and your ex on the ski slopes, but when you look at you see heartbreak. If you don't want to be associated with the picture, untag yourself and move on.
5. Now for the big question: Do you unfriend the ex? This is obviously something everyone must decide for themselves. You can always set a myriad of boundaries for them using the Privacy Settings. You may manage to stay Facebook friends, and yet not real-time friends. Sometimes you have to unfriend, even if only to break the tie and get some peace of mind. You can always extend the invitation again in the future. I personally feel lucky to have cyber-friendships with my ex's, otherwise I wouldn't know who or where they are today. In fact refriending ex's has become an olive branch in breakups today. It's as if to say: "I'm over it and I hope you are, too!"
Sarah Rae received her MFA in writing in 2009 and is currently pursuing a Master of Arts in psychology. She lives and writes in Brooklyn. www.sarahrae.net
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