A recently published study by a researcher at the University of Miami has confirmed that staying friends with your ex-partner on Facebook can make a breakup that much harder, especially for those who are prone to rumination.
Published last month in the journal Computers in Human Behavior, PhD student Tanya Tran recruited 37 undergrad students who had recently ended a relationship but hadn't ended their Facebook friendship with that ex. According to the Washington Post, she then asked those students about their Facebook usage, breakup recover time, and general personality.
Tran, now a clinical psychologist at Brown, found that people who had a disposition toward rumination — to focus a lot of attention on their distresses — were particularly prone to using Facebook to increase their despair. Viewing their ex's Facebook page or seeing their updates in their newsfeed led to thoughts of what the ex's lives were like without them and lead to harder post-breakup recovery time.
So if you're prone to feeling sorry for yourself, it's best to unfriend that ex on Facebook, and, though this research doesn't specifically mention it, probably Instagram, Twitter, Tumblr, Snapchat, and whatever it is that the kids are using today as well.
Have you seen a recently single person on social media? They're pretty much horrible for anyone to follow, let alone their ex. "Out with my girls #LivingMyBestLife." "So glad I have time again to take the gym seriously #GettingSwoll." "With nothing holding me back, the world is mine #Inspiration." Those people are temporarily insufferable.
Naturally, Tran's research isn't the first into the general topic.
Last year research out of the at University of Western Ontario in Canada found that the person who initiates the breakup is less likely to be troubled by their ex's social media activity than the person who was dumped. Sixty-two percent of dumpees said they spent a lot of time thinking about and reanalyzing wall posts and messages from their exes. They also said that posting about the breakup brought in messages from friends and families that tended to reopen wounds.
Most said they didn't want to view their ex's profile, but just couldn't ward off the temptation and ended up feeling that the ex-partner was trying to flaunt their newly unattached status.
So just hit that unfriend button.