Ever wondered why breakups are getting increasingly harder to get over?

There's one thing sabotaging your healing process

Publicity Still from "Legally Blonde" Reese WiTherspoon
(Image credit: PictureLux / The Hollywood Archive / Alamy Stock Photo)

Breakups are hard, and something most of us go through at some point, but there's one thing that's making them a lot worse now according to experts—social media. 

In the old days, you would break up with someone and probably not see or hear from them for three years, until you bump into them by chance at the supermarket (or not by chance at Harvard Law School, if you're Elle Woods).

But with social media, you see them every day. You see their pictures, posts, statuses, and even location sometimes and that makes it very hard to move on from them. Unless you make the big step to unfollow or even hit that block button, you are constantly reminded and updated on your ex’s life.

hand of a woman texting on cell phone

(Image credit: Getty Images / JGI/Jamie Grill)

Psychologist Paula Durlofsky Ph.D. wrote an article for Psychology Today (opens in new tab) where she explained what social media does to us when we're trying to figure out how to get over a breakup

She wrote: “Social media can compound our misery. Regularly visiting an ex’s status updates, reading posts, or revisiting past texts can prolong and complicate the grieving and mourning process."

But if you thought blocking someone was enough, think again. A recent study (opens in new tab) from the University of Colorado Boulder discovered that even when participants took every step to remove their ex by unfriending and blocking, an alarming amount of people still find themselves stumbling across some info on their ex—through features like resurfaced 'memories'.

Doctoral student Anthony Pinter said: “In real life, you get to decide who gets the cat and who gets the couch, but online it's a lot harder to determine who gets this picture or who gets this group.

"Before social media, break-ups still sucked, but it was much easier to get distance from the person. It can make it almost impossible to move on if you are constantly being bombarded with reminders in different places online."

So how can we make breakups easier despite social media?

The foolproof answer is to take a break from social media, cold turkey. Even if you block and unfriend, there is still a chance you’ll see something you’d rather not. The algorithms don’t stop just because we want them to (you'll know just creepy this is if you've watched Netflix's The Social Dilemma).

Pinter says: “Take a break from social media for a while until you are in a better place."

If you can’t go to that extreme, unfriend, untag and block. Both Instagram and Facebook also have features to unfollow and mute posts and stories without actually unfriending the person. So if you’re not quite ready for the end, you can just remove them from your feed.

You can also go through your connections and cull the people attached to the person that you don’t see or speak to, this will also limit the risk of seeing someone like their post or interact in any way.

Don't forget though—though it sucks now, it won’t forever. But if you’re giving in to doing a daily social media stalk, you’re only making it harder for yourself to move on. Take our self-care day ideas and listen to those breakup songs. Let yourself be sad, but don’t let yourself go near their Instagram page.

Naomi is a Lifestyle News Writer with the Women's Lifestyle team and has recently earned her Gold Standard diploma in Journalism with the NCTJ. She has a background in design, having studied Illustration at Plymouth University but has taken a leap into the world of journalism after always having a passion for writing. She currently writes pieces on beauty, trends, fashion, and entertainment for GoodTo and My Imperfect Life. She also tests and reviews beauty and skincare products and tries out the latest TikTok hacks for My Imperfect Life.


Before working for Future Publishing’s Lifestyle News team, she worked in the Ad production team. Here she wrote and designed adverts on all sorts of things, which then went into print magazines across all genres. Now, when she isn’t writing articles on celebs, fashion trends, or the newest shows on Netflix, you can find her drinking copious cups of coffee, drawing and probably online shopping.