Columnist

Dr. Mary Jo Podgurski is the founder and director of the Washington Health System Teen Outreach. She responds to 6–8 questions from young people daily and has written 'Ask Mary Jo' since 2005.

Q.Why do people use social media to hurt you after a breakup? I know it’s tempting to post bad things about an ex, but I also know that’s wrong. Are there any guides for how to handle social media when a relationship ends?

15-year-old

Mary Jo’s response: What a great question. Social media can complicate relationships, especially after a breakup. It’s as if doing the right thing and making respectful choices becomes uncommon. It seems easier to send hurtful messages and texts than to confront someone face to face.

Guidelines for social media use after a breakup should be based on mutual respect.

Here are some hints:

  • Step away from social media right after a breakup. Yes, this may be challenging, but it is possible. Turn to real-life distractions to help you cope. Talk with friends, exercise more, volunteer at a local community outreach, share your feelings with trusted adults. If you don’t check social media, you can’t get caught up in the drama.
  • If you simply cannot walk away from your phone, be careful when you post. Ask yourself if you’d say the same thing in the same way if you were face to face with your ex. If the answer is no, don’t post.
  • Most people need time to grieve after an emotional breakup. Give yourself time to heal.
  • Restart your life. If social media is a big part of your life, and you often respond to friends’ posts or leave respectful comments on topics you care about, continue doing so. Be cautious. Avoid your ex’s accounts. Blocking them may sound extreme, but doing so might spare you pain.
  • Fight the temptation to check up on your ex on social media.
  • Be considerate and kind. When you begin enjoying fun activities with friends, post with care. Ask yourself – are you trying to hurt your ex? It’s easy to be petty.
  • Rise above drama. Model respect. Social media posts
  • last forever. Do y
  • ou want people to define you by your
  • anger?
  • Surround yourself with positive people and positive events. Drowning in negativity can bring you down.

You are a person of worth. Stand strong. You are more than a breakup or mean words someone posted about you on social media. Learn from this failed relationship, and seek healthy connections going forward. Good luck.

Peer Educator response: The only thing that should be posted on social media, if you want, is the fact that two people are no longer a thing. It’s not anyone’s business why the breakup happened. You once liked or loved the person enough to go out. You’re lying to yourself and making yourself look bad if you post negatively about them on social media now.

It may be best to avoid social media after relationships end. It can hurt to see an ex post about someone new. It’s terrible to see an ex post mean things about you. You may want to fight back and say bad things to defend yourself, but that’s what your ex wants you to do. People use social media to hurt one another. In the end, no one wins. It’s just a way to make you feel sad, hurt or jealous. Privacy is a rare thing now that social media exists. Our advice? Ignore the haters and be happy no matter what.

Have a question? Send it to Dr. Mary Jo Podgurski’s email at podmj@healthyteens.com.

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