The Power of the Block Button

4 min read
fizkes / Shutterstock

Source: fizkes / Shutterstock

Way back in the day (when social media wasn’t a thing and smartphones didn’t exist) when a relationship ended, you were usually able to make a clean break. There was always a small chance that you could run into your ex in person (i.e. at a social event or grocery store), or maybe hear about them through a mutual friend or friend of a friend, but you didn’t have to worry about trying to avoid their online activity. You didn’t have access to their Instagram account, Venmo transactions, or dating app profile. There was an anonymity that often made it easier to move on.

Nowadays, trying to move on from an ex or relationship isn’t so straightforward. In my practice, I have found that one of the biggest reasons clients find it so hard to move on from a past relationship is that they are still virtually connected to their ex.

While it’s normal and common to be curious and think about your ex after a breakup or have the urge to check in on them, instead of letting this urge or feeling pass, many people indulge this itch by engaging with their ex’s socials. It requires very little effort to open and search an app to find just enough information to throw you into an emotional tailspin.

I’ve heard it all. “She’s seeing someone already!” “They don’t seem sad or upset about our breakup.” “She Venomed someone I think she’s dating.” “I can’t believe he already deleted our pictures!” “I just saw that he is engaged.” “My friend saw them on a dating app…” These searches or “checking” of social media can quickly escalate and re-open old wounds.

Even if a breakup is amicable, mutual, or “for the best,” you are human—and sometimes new information about an ex can cause unnecessary hurt and make things harder than they need to be. And while there is no real playbook or “how to” guide for breakups, making the decision to block or unfollow this person with whom you are parting ways can be a good option.

4 Reasons to Consider Blocking or Unfollowing an Ex

  1. Reduce temptation. By blocking or unfollowing an ex, you reduce the temptation of seeking out information or reconnecting. So, when you do have the urge, you have no other option but to wait it out. You’ll notice that the urge is likely to dissipate, as all feelings do.
  2. Protect your inner peace. By going completely “no contact” (virtually), you can truly live and be in the present. While your mind may wonder, when you don’t have access to any new information (pictures, locations, etc.), you are less likely to construct imaginary scenarios or fixate on your ex. This allows you to live your life more freely and work through the grief of the breakup without too much complication.
  3. Fresh start. If you continue to follow or engage with your ex’s social media after a breakup, it can prolong the process. Because social media provides endless ways to interact with friends/followers, sometimes after a breakup, the relationship can take on a whole new form or mess. When you continue to “like,” comment on, or share posts, it’s common to still feel involved. Blocking or unfollowing can offer you a fresh start.
  4. Your safety. If you are ending a toxic or abusive relationship, blocking or unfollowing this person may be the only way to truly feel safe and reinforce a boundary. Even if there is no physical threat, sometimes after a breakup, the abuser might continue to use or leverage social media as a means of further abuse.

Again, while there is no “right way” to break up or end a relationship, if social media becomes a hindrance to your healing and grieving process, you always have the option to opt out of a social media relationship. It does not make you “immature” or “dramatic.” Your mental health and well-being are most important—and how you take care of it is up to you.

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