Blocking Your Ex: Petty or Necessary?

Sometimes, when thinking about relationships and breakups, I feel this overwhelming nostalgia for the days long before social media—though I’ve never actually experienced such a thing. Imagine, post-breakup, not having to decide whether to completely erase the presence of your ex from your Instagram feed. Back in our parents’ time, ridding life of an ex was as easy as erasing their phone number from an address book and burning the photos to ashes in the family fireplace. In today’s social sphere, you must cautiously navigate a minefield of comments, tagged photos and surprise Facebook memories that constantly tempt you to break down and explore (creep) your ex’s profile. This makes it incredibly difficult to digitally detach yourself from the past relationship. So, you arrive at the fork in the road: to block or not to block? On one spectrum, if you delete them, you fear looking petty. On the other end, if you don’t delete them you could potentially go insane analyzing every last retweet. Gathering from friends I’ve spoken to on the subject, blocking an ex can be perceived in both ways, and it truly depends on the situation.  

Team Petty:

It’s a lonely Sunday afternoon, you’re freshly single and scrolling through Instagram when suddenly a picture of your ex living his “best life” with his “bros” pops up on your feed. How could that— a picture at the local college bar—be his best life? You’re furious and you can feel your cheeks blushing with FOMO-induced anger. Being the totally adult yet emotionally fragile human being that you are, you mosey on over to his profile and tap that unfollow button. Then, thinking that’s not enough, you block him too! That’ll show him. Chances are, once the raging hate-fire subsides, you begin to regret your actions. After all, you ended on amicable terms, so why would you act so impulsively? Oh yeah, because Instagram, and social media in general, don’t show the full picture. So, the first sign of your ex having fun without you made you snap—it’s natural.

With that said, once you cross the line of blocking an ex, it’s far too late and you likely have way too much pride to go back with your tail between your legs to refollow him. A friend of mine even referred to blocking as “making the choice for your ex” whereas simply unfollowing is “making the choice for yourself.” This is a great point because why should you care if they still wish to keep up with your life via social media? Isn’t that just a tiny bit flattering? At the end of the day, social media is just a rose-colored window into someone’s life anyway, so blocking your ex can come off as a bit extreme and even immature. Blocking someone on social media to show that you “don’t care” is a great way to indicate that you still do, but that doesn’t mean he’ll come calling anytime soon.

Courtesy: Unknown Breakup

Team Necessary:

While there are plenty of arguments for blocking being petty, some argue that it is absolutely necessary after a breakup and you should do it without remorse. If you’re heartbroken over a breakup, having your ex out of sight and out of mind helps the healing process—trust me, I’ve been there, and it works. With no chance of seeing their face, good and bad memories can naturally fade away and no energy needs to be wasted on an innocent Instagram post. On top of that, it can be enticing to fall into the routine of posting on social media purely for the reason of your ex viewing it. Who wants to live their life still fighting for their ex’s attention? Just because they liked your bikini picture or watched your story from Friday’s happy hour, doesn’t mean they want you back. When vulnerable post-breakup, it’s important to manifest conditions that will allow you to heal, and if that means you need to quit their social media cold-turkey, then so be it.

Another perspective to consider is that staying “friends” with your ex can look like a superficial show to prove how mature you are. Making a choice for yourself and cutting off contact with an ex isn’t immature in the slightest, especially if it improves your well-being.

Closing Argument:

Blocking an ex only crosses over into the "petty" realm if you do it with the motivation of attention or anger. This can jeopardize the possibility of a future friendship, and adding your ex back is totally allowed. So, when dealing with the breakup aftermath, it’s crucial to make sure that your actions reflect your true intentions, but don’t ever cheat yourself out of the chance to move on for the sake of being on “good terms.”

When it comes down to it, if you decide to block an ex, it’s not petty as long as you’re doing it for you. Focusing on your happiness and sanity after a breakup is the most important thing, which means you shouldn’t be worrying about what your ex thinks about you. If their opinion still matters, there’s no rule against giving them a heads up as to why you’re choosing to remove them on social media! “Hey Chad, my blocking you on social media is in no way a reflection of our relationship, but I need to do so in order to heal and move on.” Easy as that.