Breaking Up Isn't Hard to Do

Saturday, December 26, 2015

Breaking Up Isn't Hard to Do
The N.Y. Times was kind enough to report today on a new niche in the online dating industry, digital breakups. Well, it's official people, the hookup culture has come full circle. Considering today is the day couples are least likely to break up (according to Facebook) I thought I'd opine for a bit on the subject of social media, dating, relationships and break ups.

Mobile matchmaking is a global phenomenon no longer reserved just for romance. Algorithms for determining compatibility are being used everywhere from gaming and gambling to transportation and genealogy, movies, music and more. Think World of Warcraft, DraftKings, Uber, 23andme, Netflix, and Pandora just to name a few.

Now that you can instantly meet a potential paramour anywhere, anytime, within walking distance, and without any verbal conversation or known associations whatsoever, romantic relationships have become as ephemeral and disposable as Snapchats. 

Thanks to this ease at which singles can now meet other singles, men and women simply don't invest as much emotional equity into their relationships as they once did. However, this hasn't stopped people from publicly displaying play-by-play updates of their love lives...almost always to a fault. 

Studies have shown that what, when, where and how you publicly display affection online greatly impacts people's perceptions of you, and oddly, it is almost always negative. Posting too little, not posting at all, or posting things that may contradict what you've said IRL (in real life) will make people think less of you and your relationship. Posting too often, incessantly or what may seem particularly uninteresting or banal to others will also make people think less of you and your relationship. In a post on the blog of Psychology Today, Gwendolyn Seidman, Ph.D., an associate professor of psychology at Albright College, who studies relationships and cyberpsychology said of one recent study, "Those with low self-esteem were more likely to post updates about their romantic partner and to use Facebook as a means of self-expression (rather than validation)."

So where is the happy medium? It's hard to say. To each his own. However, overtures and accolades should be as infrequent as anniversaries. A good rule of thumb is to limit these to special occasions; holidays, birthdays, anniversaries and travels. Sweet nothings and other generally uninteresting remarks couples make to each other should not be posted publicly. Journaling the progress of your relationship with photos and commemorations is socially acceptable and updates or posts that involve more than just the two of you is generally considered appropriate as well. The ultimate litmus test is this, "are there at least three other people I'm friends with who will truly give a damn about what I'm about to post?" Using the number of likes or comments on your post is often not the best barometer. If you have 1,000 friends and less than 10, (or 1%) like/comment/share the post, it wasn't update worthy. And what happens when you breakup? I've seen many people look the fool when their seemingly perfect relationship suddenly stops dead in its tracks and everyone who has digested their posts by either visiting their page or merely opening their own news feed are left questioning this person's judgement. 

For years I've been telling my clients that your Facebook Wall is no different than the wall of your home. If you can imagine someone came into your home and your walls were covered in so many photos and clippings of someone else it looked like you are obsessed, you've clearly gone overboard. 

If you break up with someone and start dating again you need to purge and take down of your walls pertaining to you and your ex. You don't need to trash them, but you at least need to hide them. This used to be a difficult and painstaking process depending on how long the relationship lasted, how vocal you were about it on social media and other considerations like your careers, mutual friends and more. But thanks to the Compassion Team at Facebook, their Breakup Flow now makes this easier than ever before.

However, there is a catch. This feature only works when you have been "Facebook Official" with someone, meaning, that it only works for couples, not ordinary friends. I would expect this feature will soon be extended to other relationships that you want to end, including the ubiquitous "friendship" you have with anyone you're connected to including employers, family, ex best friends, etc.

Learn social media best practices and the opinions people form of you online will match the opinions those same people would form of you offline.

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Joann Ward has been matchmaking for over 30 years. Her son, Steve Ward followed in her footsteps in 2003. They became internationally known matchmakers as Hosts and Executive Producers of VH1 Tough Love

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