F.B.(N).O – Relationships and Break-Ups in the Age of Social Media


These days we live our lives with one foot in the real world and the other on social media. It’s almost as if it isn’t on Facebook, it didn’t happen. As #zlotybaby discussed in her recent post, Facebook is full of oversharers and we have all probably been guilty of this at some point. Whether you are one of those people who post too many ‘my precious child just threw up all over me’ statuses or like yours truly, feel the need to ‘check-in’ at all of the coolest places in Cape Town, just to let the world know you aren’t a complete Sad Spinster stuck at home watching the whole back catalogue of SATC with only the cat for company – we are all somehow complicit in this social media obsession.

But how about when it comes to relationships? How much should we be revealing on social media? Just last week Facebook announced plans to help ease the pain of break-ups by launching a new feature that hopes to spare users from constantly seeing posts and pictures from the ex. This tool is designed for people who want to show some semblance of maturity and not totally block their ex-lover from Facebook but still want discreetly avoid being slowly tormented by thoughts of what could have been.

It seems like a good idea in theory, right? Breaking-up is always difficult. But in the pre-Facebook era, at least you could simply avoid places where you’d be likely to bump into the ex, distance yourself from mutual friends and burn all the artifacts that reminded you of that chapter of your life. But these days, even if you’ve removed or even blocked your ex on social media, they always have a way of popping up when you least expect it. Maybe they’ll comment on something or a mutual friend will tag them in a post. And then all those memories just come flooding back! Let’s face it, none of is above having some reaction to our past relationships – whether it’s sadness, regret or anger, no matter how ‘mature’ we pretend to be we are all susceptible to these emotional triggers.

At the end of the day, most exes (unless you’re an ivy women/man who has too many to name) probably had some significance in our lives and even removing all traces from them from our lives isn’t going to erase them from our memories completely. There comes a time when you still have face the people, places and even inanimate objects that’ll remind you of that someone who maybe broke you heart. So while the new Facebook feature may help in the aftermath of a break-up, it’s hardly a fool-proof solution.

So when it comes to social media and relationships, I’ve think the best approach is prevention rather than cure. Like many people I was once young and naïve and in that honeymoon period of a new relationship decided make things F.B.O ( Facebook Official for all of you elders out there) and declare to the world that: ‘I AM NO LONGER SINGLE BIAAAATCHES!!!! ’. Sadly, this enthusiasm died out quickly when that little encounter came to an end and I had to be far more discreet when it came to revealing my new found singledom.

Clearly, the moral of the story (I am pretty sure many have had a similar experience) is that no matter however sure you are about having found your Prince Charming, nothing in life is certain (apart for death and taxes) so it’s best to keep social media oversharing to a minimum. It may seem like a great idea to tell the world how wonderful your significant other is (simultaneously rubbing your single friends noses in it), but maybe in the long run its better you just tell him personally in a WhatsApp message. That way if/when the relationship falls apart, you won’t have to face this additional public humiliation.

Now give us your thoughts Dear Rinsers. How do you feel about sharing the intimate details of your love life on social media? Is it destined for disaster? Does our generation’s obsession with social media simply serve to make relationships more complicated and break-ups more difficult? Answers in the comments below.  


  1. Been there, tried that, didn’t even get a t shirt. I once got myself into this making things official on Twitter and boy did I have a hard time when things went sour. I actually deactivated my account for months after that break up. When I got better I got back and he is now dating someone else and do they flaunt their relationship or what. Thankfully, it doesn’t affect me anymore but i learnt my lesson. DO NOT OVERSHARE, keep some parts of your life private especially relationships to keep the magic. 🙂
    Great read by the way.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Thanks for reading.

    I think the whole F.B.O story is something that many of us have been through. At least we’ve both learnt our lessons. Seems like your ex didn’t…still flaunting his private business out there for all to see.

    I also think that part of people flaunting their happiness is to show the ex that they’ve moved on. But I think its important to bear in mind that this whole Facebook image is often nothing more than a facade. Nobody puts the sad stuff, the fights, the cheating, etc (well some people might, I don’t know). Either way, by putting relationship out there you setting yourself up for trouble. If you are happy in a relationship, then you and the important people will know about it without having to have it declared publically….people you met a bar, your friends from primary school, etc really don’t need to know.


  3. I always disagree with you! Social media is what it is. There are no rules, again. Do whatever you want. Let people do whatever they want. Sometimes thinks work, sometimes they don’t. We learn through our mistakes. Or we find they are not mistakes and they lead to something else. Maybe if we are worried about people ‘flaunting their happiness’ we are really the unhappy ones.

    Liked by 1 person

    • There is nothing wrong with ‘flaunting your happiness’ – I think most people, including myself, have done it. But the reason FB have had to introduce features to help ease the pain of break ups is because we’ve put up all the details of our happy times in the past. I’m just saying maybe we can save ourselves some of the humiliation involved in a break-up, by being more discreet about our relations. Plus, the truth is if we are truly busy being happy shouldn’t we just be busy and enjoy the moment with our significant other instead of you know stopping to announce evey little thing to world on social media.

      I think many people have been burnt by oversharing in the past and you’ll notice most people become more discreet about things in subsequent relationships.


  4. I understand both sides of this maybe this last comment was correct if we are worried about what people are flaunting on Facebook then maybe we are unhappy, yet I also think we do overshare waaaaaaaaaayyyyyyyyy tooooooooo much information and then we set ourselves up for both emabarrasment when things don’t work out, and possible identity thief. But like most things in life the key is balance.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. It’s tricky. When you are happy, you want the world to know. One friend of mine got divorced and before the ink was dry there were so many pictures of her with the new guy. It was awkward for her friends and insulting to him as somebody she professed to love and who is still the father of her kids. But guess what? What she did is WAY more common than somebody who keeps their social media yap shut. Privacy, dignity, these things are important. She made herself out to be a jerk by posting so much stuff (I stopped following her just cos it was embarrassing to see the constant stream of SMDA’s – social media displays of affection. It was like she was purposely putting on a show. Which, maybe she was. But I didn’t want to watch it because I was friend with her husband, too. In fact, she and the new guy got together so fast a lot of us were wondering if that was the reason for the split. See? Lotta crap all due to oversharing.

    Liked by 2 people

    • SMDA – Love that term.

      Yep, sometimes we subtly put something up on social media which is intended as a message for our ex. But most of the time its not even subtle and EVERYONE knows it. Like you said, the oversharer ends up looking like a Jerk because of it.


  6. That’s an interesting debate. Looks like a unending one. FBO and SMDA are fascinating terms. Well, im on a neutral side here. Love to express but on the other side i know my limits. I’d say each to his own. We can’t really channelize everybody on the free world of internet.
    Anyway, cheers to social media!

    Liked by 1 person

  7. I think I agree with you. I want to share my happiness on Facebook but at the same time I consider social media to promote a rat race. Everyone is trying to show that they’re happier than the other person. Sharing your happiness with friends is great, but if they’re really you friends they know you’re happily in love without going on Facebook. Everytime I’m tempted to post pics with my boyfriend on Facebook I feel like showing off was my main reason to do so. Because who am I trying to tell about my happiness if not the people I’m not close enough with to let them see it in real life?

    Liked by 1 person

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