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Heavy Meddle: I Can’t Bring Myself To ‘Unfriend’ My Ex On Facebook

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Welcome Meddleheads, to the column where your crazy meets my crazy! Please send your questions to advice@wbur.org. Right now. Not only will you immediately feel much better, you'll also get some advice.

Hugs,
Steve

Dear Steve,

What’s the best way to move on from your ex? I can't muster the strength to "unfriend" her on Facebook and she is liking and commenting on my posts!

Our relationship lasted about 20 months, happy and passionate for the most part. I wanted us to live closer, or even together, but she told me she wasn’t interested in marrying or having kids for the next five to 10 years. She ended it after a series of fights in which I asked for more time together.

Should I delete her, send her a message about how I feel, give her the cold shoulder, or just block all communication and keep her as a shadow friend?

It’s been three months and over that time period I have lost hope of coming back together. She seems to think everything is fine between us and “likes” and/or comments on my photos, which I have tried to completely ignore. I am worried this is holding me back a bit from moving on.

Ultimately I am torn about the opportunity cost of deleting (not knowing anything about how she is doing) versus the opportunity cost of keeping her as a friend (being hurt every time I see photos/interact with her). Should I delete her, send her a message about how I feel, give her the cold shoulder, or just block all communication and keep her as a shadow friend?

PHOTO

Signed,
Haunted By Facebook


Dear Haunted,

Unfriend her. Immediately. Do not pass go. Do not collect $200. Do not send her a note of explanation. And if you absolutely must send her a note (which, seriously, you do not have to do) keep it simple and direct. “I wish you well, but need some time on my own.”

Look: it’s clear that losing this woman still hurts. And staying in touch with her on Facebook is a perfect way to hit the refresh button on that hurt every time you go online — and thereby, in some perverse but perfectly natural way, to keep the relationship alive. But dude: look at it. When your pain is the only surviving link to a woman, it’s time to disconnect.

I realize this is easier said than done. You wanted to move in with this woman. Heck, you probably loved her. But a central requirement of any suitable partner is that they love you back. This woman didn’t, at least not enough. That means you have to move on. And you can’t do that if you’re still dissecting the minutia of her various Facebook squibs. And please don’t pretend that you’re not also her lurking around her Facebook page. You are. Stop. Right now. (Facebook. Good grief. Was there ever an invention better designed to drive exes insane?)

When your pain is the only surviving link to a woman, it’s time to disconnect.

You used the term “opportunity cost” above, Haunted, for which I’m still trying to forgive you. You wrote that the “opportunity cost” of deleting her was that you would not know anything about how she was doing. You then went on to observe that knowing how she’s doing makes you miserable. Can you see, therefore, that there is no positive “opportunity” to remaining in touch with this woman?

It may be that some time down the line this woman will realize she made a mistake in breaking up with you. That could happen. Conceivably. But it’s not going to happen because you kept in touch with her on a social media network. That will only make you desperate and miserable. I hereby order you to go cold turkey and to begin the long, slow process of healing and putting yourself out there and (yes, eventually) finding someone who can offer you the love and devotion you deserve.

Stay strong,
Steve

Okay folks, now it's your turn. Did I get it right, or muck it up? Let me know in the comments section. And please do send your own question along, the more detailed the better. Even if I don't have a helpful response, chances are someone in the comments section will. Send your dilemmas via email.

This program aired on November 18, 2013. The audio for this program is not available.

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