One-Third of People Are Guilty of Doing This to Their Ex, Research Shows
A new report from dating app Plenty of Fish reveals that this post-breakup behavior is quite common.
It's human nature to want to rid yourself of any reminders of your ex after an emotional breakup. The thought of seeing you and your ex smiling in a picture together is often too much to bear. So, you take their photos down from your wall, donate their old sweatshirts they left in your drawer, and if you're like many people, you delete any evidence of them from your social media profiles. Dating app Plenty of Fish released its annual list of dating trends and found that this phenomenon is fairly common among daters, with more than a third of people copping to it. In fact, there's a word for it: sanitizing, which Plenty of Fish describes as "the act of wiping your social media of all photographic evidence of a past relationship." There are many reasons you may feel compelled to delete all traces of your ex from social media. Read on to find out why sanitizing is actually healthy, according to relationship experts, and to see a surprisingly common reason couples don't last, check out Half of Men Say They Would Break Up With a Woman Who Does This.
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It helps you avoid those "Where's your better half?" questions.
If you want to avoid getting asked where your partner is all the time, deleting them from your social media can be a good way to send the message to others that you two are no longer together. "Cleansing your social media can serve as a subtle announcement that the two of you are done," says Canwen Xu of the Iris dating app. And for bad habits that could be causing your relationships to end, know that This One Thing You're Doing Is Killing Your Relationship, Expert Says
It gives you space to reinvent yourself.
After a breakup, you enter a new chapter of your life, and with that shift, you may want to reinvent yourself a bit. Relationship expert and matchmaker Rori Sassoon says people are eager to "redo, restart, and reinvent themselves" after a relationship ends. "Once you break up, it's not about the relationship anymore; it's about you and your next chapter in life, which doesn't include that other person. So there's no need to keep broadcasting to the world your now-expired relationship by leaving those photos up for everyone to see on social media," she says.
Having a partner-free social media presence can also be a symbolic way to "move on and reaffirm single identity," says sex educator, sex and love coach, and writer Suzannah Weiss. And if you're curious when infidelity tends to strike, check out The Age When Married Men Are Most Likely to Cheat, Research Shows.
If you were in a toxic or abusive relationship, you'll likely want to remove anything that will remind you of that experience, says Weiss. "Some people sanitize their social media to remove reminders of a hurtful experience," says Xu.
Deleting these images could even be therapeutic. "Pressing 'delete' on photo after photo, many of which are associated with painful memories, can feel cathartic and help you move on," she adds. And for more dating tips and tricks delivered straight to your inbox, sign up for our daily newsletter.
It helps you gain closure.
Catching a glimpse of your ex every time you open an app could make it harder for you to move forward. "It's hard to think of something other than your ex when your Instagram profile is full of cute couple photos," says Xu. "Removing those photos allows you a symbolic fresh start."
Deleting public evidence of your relationship could feel like a good way to close that chapter. "Closure is an important part of the healing process to allow the person to move on," says marriage counselor Wyatt Fisher, PhD. "Part of what helps with closure is removing everything that reminds you of your ex, including all pictures of him or her on social media." To see if your relationship will go the distance, check out If You Stay in a Relationship for This Reason, It Won't Last, Study Says.
It signals that you're single and ready to mingle.
If your Instagram is inundated with photos of you and your ex, it may impede on your ability to get back out there when you're ready. Xu says some people sanitize to make it clear on their profile that they're single. Who knows? "It can open up new opportunities for those who want to slide into the DMs," says Xu. And if you want to avoid trouble in the future, check out You Shouldn't Date Anyone This Much Younger Than You, Research Shows.