After a breakup, many of us rush to do a digital cleanse of our exes, ridding ourselves of any and all trace of them online. We delete them from Facebook, stop following their profiles on Instagram and say goodbye to their witty shower thoughts and sociopolitical commentary on Twitter.
It’s a smart, thoughtful tactic in the name of self-care: You’d hate to get lured back into their orbit via one intriguing life update you stumble upon online. But then, with the naïveté of a poor lamb being led to the slaughterhouse, you tap onto your Venmo app only to be confronted with the worst kind of update: cold, hard proof that your ex has moved on with someone new. (Or at least you envision it that way.)
“Who is Gabe?” you think, glancing at your Venmo newsfeed, “and why is he spending so much time getting sushi and going to paint and sip nights (🎨🍷) with my ex?”
Just like that, Venmo did you dirty. Who knew that the app you once used to split electricity and Trader Joe’s bills with your ex could turn out to be the most insidious platform of all post-breakup?
Unfortunately, the payment app causes a lot of undue stress for the newly single, according to Samantha Burns, a Boston-based dating coach and the author of “Breaking Up & Bouncing Back.”
“Venmo can be a toxic post-break app because it’s easy to stalk your ex and speculate what they’re doing and who they’re doing it with,” she said. “Of course, you’ll assume the worst ― that they’re on a date with someone new ― and then hit up the other social media sites to identify the mystery man or woman.”
Before you know it, you’ve got countess tabs open and you’re spiraling down a dark rabbit hole of reconnaissance. Unsurprisingly, it all leaves you feeling pretty terrible about yourself and rightfully uncertain about all the progress you thought you’d made moving on.
“Deleting your ex from Venmo in particular is important since continuing to bear witness to how your ex is spending their money is pretty irrelevant.”
There’s no need to feel guilty about snooping, because people respond to breakups in different ways. But recognize that it might serve you well to delete them from all apps. While some exes are perfectly fine with keeping in touch after a split, many people choose to digitally erase all traces of their exes from their lives, said Kelifern Pomeranz, a psychologist and sex therapist in California’s Silicon Valley.
“Most of my clients choose not to continue to follow their exes on social media for a number of reasons, including subjective distress, ruminative or obsessive thoughts, and prolonged grief,” she said. “Deleting your ex from Venmo in particular is important since continuing to bear witness to how your ex is spending their money is pretty irrelevant.”
In other words, let go of those updates on their weekend spending — just like you let them go IRL.
To cut the cord, head to their Venmo profile. On desktop, you’ll see a “remove friend” option on the right side of the page. If you’re on the app, simply tap the “friends” checkmark to “unfriend” and brava, you’re done. No more unsettling or cryptic updates will pop up on your feed.
If you still find yourself internet stalking ― or if you never thought a full-on detox was necessary in the first place ― consider what you’re gaining from the experience of snooping around, Pomeranz said.
“I usually ask clients to deep-dive into why they continue to follow or stalk their ex on social media and discuss how this behavior is impacting their mental health,” she said.
Next, Pomeranz talks with her patients about values around self-care and helps them set goals for future behavior. For example: “I will bring my Instagram/LinkedIn/Venmo/etc. stalking down from the FBI levels that it’s reached because it’s good for my peace of mind.” She often suggests mindfulness exercises to help them reach those goals.
Burns recommends her brokenhearted clients to go at least 30 days — ideally, 90 days — without making contact with their exes, which requires blocking them on social media. By doing this, they remove any unnecessary emotional triggers from their daily lives.
“Otherwise, you might waste way too much time overanalyzing potential dates they’re going on just by looking at things like Venmo,” Burns said. “You don’t want those little wine and movie emojis serving as a rude reminder that they may be moving on before you’re ready to get back out there. Don’t let it take a hit on your self-esteem.”