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Facebook Breakups Are Never Easy: Here's How to Make Them Less Hard to Do

No one ever said breaking up was easy. But, as a backward-walking Chris Martin once told us, no one ever said it would be this hard, either -- and especially not as hard as Facebook has made it. In an article for The New York Times, Laura Holson dives headfirst into the thorny topic of breakups in the digital age and exposes just how harrowing and complex social networking sites have rendered the highly sensitive art of splitting up. With the virtual paper trail of romance that the Internet leaves nowadays, the brokenhearted and vengeful alike are always just a click away from memory lane. Some find it painful. Others find the arm's-length surveillance strangely satisfying. All would admit, though, that it's definitely complicated.

The digital era has raised unique questions. Detag all those photos from your romantic getaway in Bali? Erase lovey-dovey Wall posts? Just keep your ex tucked away at the bottom of your friends list as a sign of good faith? Every relationship, of course, is unique, and different people recommend different approaches. Factors include the viciousness of the breakup and the tenacity with which that special someone still tugs at your heart strings. But here are five general guidelines that we think might make your online breakup experience a bit smoother -- or, at the very least, help you spend less time staring at your computer, and more time beasting that pint of Ben & Jerry's in front of 'Beaches.'

1. There are privacy controls. Use them.

We can't help but think that when Facebook updated its privacy controls last month, Mark Zuckerberg must've had heartbreak on his mind. It's the perfect way to slowly wean yourself off someone without hastily bringing the axe down. Control exactly what he or she can see, and while you're at it, go ahead and filter your news feed, too. When you're ready, you can always go back and check in on them if you really want to (but read number four).

2. Change your passwords. All of them.

In her article, Holson mentions that many couples are now sharing passwords as a way of breaching that final frontier of "intimacy." We personally think this is dumber than dumb, but fools always rush in, so we can't really blame anyone for giving their sweetheart the keys to their inbox. But if you count yourself among this herd of password-swappers, now's your chance to repent. If you really want to make a clean break, to leave no stones unturned, and to prevent your ex from crawling around your e-mails and slithering through your Facebook Wall-to-Walls, shut the door. And lock it.

3. Use Facebook to fight evil...

It's easy to get caught up in how difficult it is to escape someone on Facebook, without ever thinking about how you can use the platform for yourself. Aside from stuff like keeping tabs on someone, or judging their new "acquaintances," you can also use it proactively. Put up a cool profile pic. Show her all the friends you've made in the past 24 hours. RSVP to a lot of events that you'll never go to -- or, egads, actually go out and attend them. In real life. Still, don't go overboard. The last thing you want to do is get sucked into a round of passive-aggressive one-upmanship. But realize that Facebook could be your best post-break-up ally.

4. ...But be sure to tear yourself away from it, too

It sounds simple enough in theory, but it's way more difficult, obviously, in practice. Already, you probably spend inordinately more time on social networking sites than you think you do. And those hours really start to pile on top of one another when your social world is in upheaval and you are rife with morbid curiosity. But test your willpower or weave it into your New Year's resolution. Compulsively checking an ex's status every 20 seconds can be addictive -- and unhealthy. Just don't do it. You'll feel like a better person.

5. Unless dealing with horrid feelings, don't unfriend. Ever.

This is probably the most difficult decision of all, and one that Holson expounds in great detail. We know that unfriending is the obvious, knee-jerk reaction, but just take a minute to think about what good it'll actually do. Not only will you likely come across as puerile, but you probably won't even cut the head off the snake, either. Who knows how many photos of you two are out there on the Internet, or how many mutual friends might feed you updates about the new Pilates instructor waxing poetic on your ex-beau's Wall? Before you know it, you're entangled in a Sisyphean breakup of epic proportions -- all unraveling on your computer screen. And maybe, just maybe, you two might be friends down the line. Re-requesting would be outright embarrassing.

Another general rule is to try and avoid testy romantic situations in social networking. Keep parents of the ex on a super private list. As a final piece of advice, never be rude to anyone, ever. While you may want to erase your former flame from your digital map now, years hence, everything might change. He may eventually stop gallivanting around with other girls. She could seek psychological counseling. You could remember why you got together in the first place. You never know how virtual history comes back. But, given the alternative of playing an endless game of Wack-A-Mole as you try to eliminate someone from your personal history, being conscientious is always the best option. [From: New York Times]

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