I had asked y'all to send me your burning relationship questions and quandaries, and in response I got this:
What's do I do about defriending my now-ex? Do I leave him in friend limbo, or should breaking up automatically equal defriending? I haven't even taken down the "in a relationship with" line because it's only been a week and I just can't deal with everyone knowing yet.
Ah, the double-edged sword of Facebook! So many of us use social networking for connecting and cataloguing and displaying our friendships and relationships--me included. It's great...until those relationships change. Then it can get sticky.
Here's my two cents:
When you have one of those disastrous "I hate you! I never want to see you again!" breakups, by all means, defriend. I had one of those a couple years back where we not only broke up, but the dude moved to Australia three weeks later. Buh-bye. I defriended him with extreme prejudice and never regretted it. Ironically, we had met through a Facebook group; the relationship both started and ended on Facebook.
On the other hand, I'm still friended with a couple of exes. The breakups weren't horrible but in their aftermath I considered defriending them, just to make a clean sweep. After a cooling-off period, I decided not to. I'm still on (infrequent) speaking terms with them, and I'm interested in knowing what they're up to. I suspect they are equally curious about me, so what's the harm? Why not let them see how happy my life is without them?
There are times, however, when that post-break up happiness--when you've obviously moved on, or he has--actually can lead to defriending. Case in point: a friend of mine went through a relatively amicable divorce. Her ex wound up in a serious relationship pretty quickly, but she was wandering in the wilderness, date-wise, for a year or so. She was still friendly with her ex and they stayed friended on Facebook. But as soon as she got a new boyfriend, and his picture and posts started appearing on her wall, her ex defriended her with no warning. A "WTF, dude?" e-mail to him produced this response: "I don't think we need to see everything that's happening in each others' lives." My friend explained this to me as: "When he could look at my page and tell himself I was a lonely cat lady, he didn't mind. But as soon as I was listed "in a relationship" he was outta there." Living well on Facebook turned out to be the best revenge. It also meant defriending.
The other problem here is "relationship status." This is one I choose to avoid altogether by never ever listing myself as single or in a relationship. I leave that space blank for two reasons:
1) If you are female and list yourself as "single", you will be deluged with a gazillion Facebook ads for diets, dating services and--by far the worst--ones shrieking "Why are you still single?" Because, of course, if women commit the crime of being Publicly Single, they must be sad, fat, no-hopers. I've been reliably informed that if you put "married", the mommy ads attack: fertility treatments, post-pregnancy weight loss plans and "too tired for sex?" self-help books. Because, of course, being married means you're a baby-hungry cow who doesn't want to fuck anymore. I don't know about you ladies, but I get more than enough misogynist badvertising without making myself a target on Facebook.
2) "Relationship status" raises WAY too many questions. When do you say you're "in a relationship?" After month? Two months? After you've had The Talk? Do you just go with plain old "in a relationship" or do you link to your significant other's profile? And once you're "in a relationship", how and when do you get out? After a fight? Do you discuss first? What a hassle. I just cannot be bothered. I'd rather focus on working out all the real issues in the relationship.
Despite the story of my friend whose Living Well revenge played out on Facebook, please don't think: "I'll keep him as a Friend so that he can see my new relationship status pop up on his News Feed!" Remember: if he knows your TMI, you'll know his. How are you going to feel if you see pictures of him on vacation with his new girlfriend? Or see his status updates pop up on yours News Feed? If it'll feel like a death of a thousand cuts, you may want to spare yourself the suffering and defriend him. After all, the first priority after a breakup is to take care of yourself. My advice is to pause. Consider. Sleep on it. If you still feel like defriending; do it. No regrets. At the end of the day, only you get to decide who to stay connected with and how to present your life to the world.