Just because a couple was very (very) open about their relationship online, doesn't mean details of their breakup should be shared for public consumption. Ariana Grande learned that the hard way when she deleted a tweet aimed at ex fiancé, Pete Davidson, alluding that he used her for relevancy. Despite erasing the post, it still made headlines and caused a frenzy of speculation regarding intimate details of their breakup.
Personal Space spoke to the ultimate love and relationship expert, CEO of Master Matchmakers Steven Ward, to learn the downsides of shading an ex online, and how to manage if they do it to you. (In addition to matchmaking, Ward's company also offers personal relationship coaching, since there are so many complicated aspects of dating, including gracefully navigating breakups on social media.)
Subtweeting on your social media platforms so that your ex will see may be tempting and can feel good at the time, but it usually does more harm than good in the long run. According to Ward, these type of posts are super common because people “feel liberated by social media.”
Finding solace or satisfaction by saying how they feel and getting things off their chest can be very cathartic. However, Ward explained that when it comes to passive-aggressive posts, they rarely have the response you want and oftentimes lead to the opposite result.
Just like in the theory of relativity, which states for every action there is an equal and opposite reaction, impulsive, half-baked posts have an effect. If you write something expecting your ex to feel “shame, regret, doubt, or remorse,” they will more likely feel “justified, vindicated, more certain, or resolute.”
Ward also divulged that the more subtle you think you are being with a subtweet or vague emotional post, the more obvious it will likely seem to others.
For example, Anwar Hadid recently posted a heartfelt message about craving the type of love he gives, which could have been a subtle dig at recent fling Kendall Jenner being spotted back with Ben Simmons. Despite not spelling it out directly, many suspected the connection almost immediately.
Even if your ex doesn't see it, your friends or theirs might and the intended message may be distorted if they overanalyze it. What may have felt good in the moment can end up looking pathetic or petty from others' perspectives.
While it might seem like a bigger deal when celebrities put their exes on blast since it’s scrutinized by the media, Ward would give the same advice to anyone. According to him, “Everyone is a celebrity in their own echo chamber online whether it’s on Instagram, Facebook, Snapchat, Twitter, etc.”
Therefore, despite having a smaller audience than someone famous, posting a personal message online publicizes a private matter, which can result in your followers, acquaintances, and loved ones losing respect for you. Ward explained, “Putting your feelings about your romantic partner online reveals more about you than the substance of what you are saying."
In some cases, these types of actions can make you appear untrustworthy or "that you lack good judgement and are self-destructive.” Bottom line: It's immature to publicize relationship drama in that way and reflects more negatively on you than it does on your ex.
What do you do if you see an ex posting passive-aggressive messages seemingly directed toward you online?
Ward advised you don’t just ignore them, but block them for it, too! “Make it clear that you don’t want to see their thinly veiled attempts to get your attention. By distancing yourself from them further you are conditioning them to know better.”
What do you do if you are desperately tempted to subtweet at your ex?
Ward recommended you resist and instead seek counsel from professionals, mutual friends, or acquaintances whom you’ve come to know and trust. “Do not violate the sanctity of your relationship by sharing private knowledge of what went on that lead to your break up." That will cause more awkwardness if you ever get back together and won't grow feelings of trust.
Ward instead suggested, "Seek perspective, understand other peoples’ points of view, and then perhaps you can help them understand yours.”
Further, if you are looking to start a new connection, going low with the sub-posts in retaliation to an ex can hinder potential new relationships.
Ward explained that if someone you just met can see photos of your ex or passive-aggressive posts about a member of the opposite sex, "They will immediately assume there is a residual connection that will hamper your emotional availability for any kind of relationship.” Therefore, if you are trying to move on, that goal will be less achievable if you have those negative messages visible on your online platforms.
At the end of the day, although people may think an Instagram or Facebook Story, a Snap or a tweet is short-lived, Ward explained that both memories and screenshots last a lifetime. In the words of the original Master Matchmakers, “Stop and think before you do."
And if you are still tempted to rant online, reread Ward's advice until it sinks in!
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