The purge. It’s not just the name of a series of films concocted by Hollywood, it's also what happens when someone scrubs their social media presence of an ex. Now that the relationship is officially over, it’s time to act like it never existed in the first place. Totally healthy, right?!
The purge can take many different forms. For example, 29-year-old Rachel had a “ceremony” with her friends to get rid of her ex’s presence on her Instagram feed. “It was a very painful breakup so I wanted to erase any memory of the relationship with friends.” Tech-savvy 25-year-old Kristina didn’t delete, but archived. “Archiving them takes it off my mind and out of sight, but doesn’t completely erase him from my memories,” she explains. On the very opposite end of the spectrum, 28-year-old Justine keeps the pictures on her feed out of respect. “ Deleting our photos or purging their existence online would be disrespectful to the time we spent together,” says Justine. Ahead, three different ladies make the case for how to handle the exes on their Instagram feed.
Strategy #1: Delete and don't look back.
“Instagram is a huge part of my life and now that this person isn’t a part of my life, I don’t want them on my feed,” explains Rachel. Honestly, that’s just sound logic.
However superficial it may sound, Instagram plays a huge role in the lives of average modern-day Americans, who spend an average of 53 minutes a day on the app. We are constantly engaging with the app, and curating the feed. We want to put our best public face forward and if Brian wasn’t good enough to be in your life, he definitely isn’t good enough to be on your Instagram.
Plus, if your feed is covered in current relationship pictures, it can send the wrong message to potential new Brians. “I know I wouldn’t like it if I was dating a guy and he had a bunch of pictures with his ex,” says Rachel. “I think it’s just a part of trying to move on.” For Rachel, deleting an ex from her social feeds provided closure after a painful breakup. Taking note from Lauren Conrad, Rachel employed the classic I want to forgive you and I want to forget you strategy.
Strategy #2: Archive 'em.
For Kristina, it’s all about cherishing the memories, but in private. “I hold on to the snapshot of the time it encapsulated but I don’t want it on my page anymore,” says Kristina.
It’s like Instagram had all the newly single ladies in mind when they introduced the archive function in late 2017. With archiving, the photo disappears from a person’s main feed, but is kept in an archive folder to be viewed or brought back at any time. Kristina initially thought about deleting at first, but found balance with the archive method. The downside? Every time you go into your archive folder, you will be reminded of the ghost of relationship’s past. For some that’s not an issue, but others it can get complicated with new flings or the desire to not be reminded of an ex. It’s a solution, but not a permanent one.
Strategy #3: Keep the mems alive.
Breakups can be hard, but does it mean that the time you spent together is meaningless? “We were together for so long that he’ll always be a part of me, even if that chapter is closed and we’ve moved on,’ says Justine. Justine seems to keep photos out of respect for what once was and to honour that specific part of her life.
And if you want to argue that Instagram should be representative of your personality, that also includes relationships. Justine looks at her Instagram grid as a curated slice of her life, but not of who she is as a person. “I see old uploads the same way I see shitty tattoos: even if they’re dumb or were a mistake, they remind you of who you were at the time you did it.” In regards to new suitors who come along and see a past romance on Justine’s feed. Justine hopes he's secure enough to see it the same way she does: as something in the past.
The story first appeared on ELLE.com.
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