Whether you're just starting out, in an established relationship, or sadly, at the end of a relationship, we could all benefit from some cold, hard, honest reminders of how to handle ourselves online after a breakup.
I've already confessed that I bad-mouthed an ex via Twitter just hours after he dumped me (though he did it over the phone, so cut me a bit of a break), and I certainly would not recommend handling a breakup that way should you find yourself in my situation. Here are a few friendly-yet-firm reminders of how to handle a real breakup in the virtual world.
The question: "He dumped me. I'm hurt. Can I use social networking to call him out and let the world know what a jerk he is?"
The answer: Are you highly emotional right now? Have you been drinking? Save your tweet/status update as a draft, and sit on it for 24 hours. The Internet will be there tomorrow, too.
There are plenty more. Get the rest after the break.
The question: "Can we stay friends on Facebook?"
The answer: Hard to offer a definitive yes or no on this one, because it's completely subject to your history. If you were friends first and dated only briefly, an unfriending may be too harsh. But in most cases — probably 90 percent of cases — you should unfriend immediately. (Bonus points for doing it before he does.) Luckily, the Internet is not permanent. If you reconcile, reconnect, or eventually become friends, you can always refriend each other.
The question: "He really hurt me. Can I send him a 2,000-word email explaining myself?"
The answer: I know you want to express yourself and your feelings (which are completely valid), but email plus heightened emotional state does not equal productivity, redemption, or closure. If you absolutely must get your thoughts out, write a draft of the email in a word program (I like Apple's Stickies.) Reread it occasionally (or if you're like me, several times a day), add to it, edit it, and play it over in your head. A friend advised me to sit on my email for 30 days and after that, if I felt the need, I was free to send it. I looked at it for four full weeks and on day number 30 deleted it completely. Think of this as the virtual equivalent of writing a letter to your ex and dropping it into a mailbox sans address or stamp.
The question: "I know his email/Facebook/Twitter password. Can I mess with him?"
The answer: As funny, awesome, and gratifying as a good prank would feel at first, you're more likely to regret it a few weeks or months in the future when your brain isn't clouded with angry breakup thoughts.
Anything I missed? Share your Internet breakup tips below.