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Forget dating apps… how has technology changed your experiences with breaking up?

An illustration for NPR's Morning Edition segment,
An illustration for NPR's Morning Edition segment, "How Online Dating Shapes Our Relationships"
Hanna Barczyk for NPR

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Breaking up is hard to do – and social media doesn’t make it any easier.

Nearly 15 years have passed since the launch of the social networking pioneer Myspace, and though the days of carefully curating your “top friends” may be long over, social media has only become more connected to users’ real-life relationships. A new romantic partner often means adding shared photos, mutual friends and even an updated relationship status to your profile… but when those relationships end, what do you do with the remaining virtual connections?

Even though it’s pretty customary to return or throw out possessions an ex left behind, it often feels a bit harsh and extreme to cut ties online in the same way. But even if it seems harmless, keeping an ex on social media can make it harder to move on and create confusion if you see that he or she liked or even just viewed one of your posts.

What role has social media played in your breakups? If you were dating before the social networking boom, how has it changed your experiences ending relationships? Do you go cold turkey online or try to stay friends on your various accounts – and how has either choice affected your ability to move on? Call us at 866-893-5722.


Cortney S. Warren, clinical psychologist, adjunct professor of psychology at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas and adjunct clinical professor of psychiatry at the University of Nevada School of Medicine; she is also a featured expert for EXaholics, a website for people who struggle to move on after breakups