Many years ago, before social media, when we used our actual voices to share news, I split from a long-term partner. I still recall the dread I felt each time I bumped into a distant friend or acquaintance. Would they cheerily ask how things were in my life? Would they ask about the health of my partner? Would I have to break the news all over again?
These days, that particular fear is no longer a thing. Everyone knows about your breakup, because you’ve posted the news on your socials. Whether it’s a statement on Instagram, a mournful selfie with the hashtag #onmyown, or a meme about #newbeginnings, the Breakup Post has become a rite of passage.
So what form do Breakup Posts take? And are they ever a good idea?
The Joint Statement
The joint statement is the domain of celebrity couples such as Channing Tatum and Jenna Dewan, or Gwyneth Paltrow and Chris Martin. In these ‘conscious uncoupling’ posts, the now defunct couple expresses their everlasting love and respect for each other, and their commitment to remaining best friends and co-parents. The statements are inspiring and poetic and tell us nothing at all about the actual reasons for the split. A simple ‘We have split. Thank you for your interest’ would suffice.
The Solo Statement
The Solo Statement is a favourite of celebs and lay people alike. It is formal confirmation of a split, a post designed to quash rumours, even if no-one is actually talking about your breakup (or when they definitely are).
Again, less is more — think Liam Hemsworth’s pared down confirmation versus Zayn Malik’s flowery tribute. You don’t owe anyone an explanation of the reasons for your breakup, it is no-one’s business but your own. But remember: the more you have gushed about your relationship during its life span, the more you will feel the need to justify the end of said relationship.
The Cryptic Update
Otherwise known as ‘subtweeting’ or ‘vaguebooking’, these are posts that allude, subtly or not-so-subtly, to the breakup or ex without mentioning the person: You tried to break me, but I won’t be broken, or When you realise you’re worth so much more. The post is vague enough to be open to interpretation and get people talking, but specific enough to leave everyone knowing exactly what is being unsaid. Subtweeting is recognisably passive aggressive, and a study has proven it will just make you look mean. Don’t do it.
The Bitchy Post
Look, we all know how painful a breakup can be. We all want to vent about the terrible things our ex has done. And calling out serious violations like sexual assault or domestic violence is important. But publicly bitching about an ex is vindictive and nasty, whether you have a small friend group or an audience of millions. People will respond — social media loves a bitch fest! — but they pile on won’t make you feel better. Heartbreak isn’t cured by a public shaming. Bitch to your friends. Bitch to your journal! Bitch to your cat! But do not bitch on social media.
The thirst trap is a seductive photo posted to attract attention, often aimed at an ex to show them what they’re missing. It might be a hot selfie, or a photo with a new love interest, or a full body shot, or a, er, bikini dance, posted shortly after a breakup. And sure, it’s great to look sexy. Just remember: your ex knows what you look like and a cute pic isn’t going to make them regret letting you go. Try not to be too blatant in your attempts to get their attention. Godspeed.
The reflection is posted to friends and followers to keep them updated about your personal journey post breakup. You have been through hell, but you will keep going! You are tired, but you are
resilient! You have been betrayed, but you still have hope!And yes, we are all delighted that you are standing in your power and living your truth. But social media is not your therapist, and endless updates on your spiritual growth are wildly self-indulgent. Share your revelations with your counsellor or bestie and post cat memes on the socials instead.
There is often a temptation to post an inspiration meme after a breakup. Sometimes good things fall apart so better things can fall together or Stars can’t shine without darkness.