It’s not unusual to see engagement, wedding and baby-on-the-way announcements while scrolling down Facebook timelines. Especially among millennials, when a couple have news to share, it’s natural to tell friends and family online.
But there’s something new on social networks, and these posts catch our attention more than the usual puppy pictures and meal shots: couples announcing their breakups on Facebook.
These aren’t cringe-worthy, reputation-bashing screeds. They’re relatively positive and healthy breakup posts. Posts that talk about a deep mutual respect for each other, but a love that could not carry on.
Posts like, “It is with great sadness that (partner’s name) and I must inform you that the story of our romance has come to an end. The love shared over the near two years was amazing, but we are in different places in our lives. We know it’s time for us to chart our own paths and follow our passions dreams of our own and to do it individually.”
Some might consider a breakup a private matter, but the announcements help eliminate questions.
That’s why Kayla Clifton, a 22-year-old from southeast Texas, decided to post a status when she and her fiancé split.
“I wanted everyone to hear it straight from me instead of through rumors. I wanted everyone to know that both of us are OK with it, and that we had no hard feelings. It also made things easier for us by not having to constantly tell people we split,” Clifton said.
Relationship experts say that the intent behind the post is what’s important.
“If you use it as a weapon, I would say don’t do it,” said Karen Prager, a psychology professor at the University of Texas at Dallas.
Prager, who has taught psychology for 36 years, said making the breakup public online can bring closure for couples.
“If they’re broken up and are ready to move on, then announcing that can be helpful. It’s a way of accepting that ‘This is how it’s going to be,’ and it makes it final,” Prager said.
Relationship counselor Liz Higgins usually sees clients who are going through breakups. Higgins, who specializes with millennials in couples therapy, said pop culture could be attributing to this trend.
“I do think we are heavily influenced by celebrities and news. It’s definitely a trend that couples post about breakups. I think of Gwyneth Paltrow. On the one hand, it makes sense. These couples are in the public light. They also have managers,” Higgins said.
When Paltrow and Coldplay musician Chris Martin split in 2014, they popularized the term “conscious uncoupling.” While the public and media didn’t know how to react to the phrase at first, it seems to be catching on years later.
“I think it’s interesting that, every day couples have this obligation and desire to make this announcement. Social media has been a part of life so long, so I do see some sense in talking about it there,” Higgins said.
Unlike the ridicule that Paltrow faced for the unusual term, some have gotten affirmation and praise for handling their breakups in an adult way.
“When we put something out there in the social media world, it’s an unspoken invitation for comments and feedback and people’s opinions. But, then again, some people are seeking that validation that they made the right choice,” Higgins said.
And aren’t we all looking for likes?