As Neil Sedaka famously sang, "breaking up is hard to do" -- and in the age of Facebook, it's exponentially harder.
After a split, it's not just the physical reminders of your ex you need to dispose of -- there are digital ones, too. How to get rid of all those tagged Facebook photos, intimate text messages and the all-important relationship status on your profile?
Researchers at Lancaster University in the UK and the University of California, Santa Cruz interviewed twenty-four 19 to 34-year-olds and found that people fall into three categories when it comes to disposing digital possessions after a split: there are the deleters, who delete all relationship remnants, the keepers, who retain all possessions, and selective disposers, who dispose all but a few important mementos.
Some deleters simply got rid of the digital evidence -- "Having photos on my phone and computer did cause me to feel sad, but I immediately removed them after the breakup, in order to move on,” one responder reported -- while others admitted to untagging photos on Facebook and immediately unfriending their exes or blocking them. However, researchers point out that this strategy is often impulsive, and deleters may regret failing to save some reminders of the relationship.
Keepers, on the other hand, were more likely to hold on to their digital possessions, including e-mails, IMs, phone numbers and messages and photos on social media -- perhaps in an attempt to remind themselves of the good parts of the relationship. However, keepers were also more likely to monitor their exes' activities on social media: "I follow his Facebook and I still check it," one responder said.
Selective disposers practiced a "more adaptive strategy," according to researchers. Rather than acting impulsively, this group dealt with relationship reminders when they were ready, and held on to their valued possessions while disposing of others. They were also more likely to limit their use of social media like Facebook post-split, and come away from the relationship with a better understanding of it.
“I’m glad I met him and glad we broke up. He helped me figure out what I don’t want or need in a relationship, so for that I am thankful,” a responder in this group said.
How do you stack up? Are you a keeper, a deleter or a selective disposer? Take the poll below to weigh in, then click through our readers' best breakup advice.