Why you should always delete your ex on social media, according to a break-up expert

amy chan

  • Amy Chan, a former relationship advice columnist, felt lost when her eight-year relationship suddenly ended after her partner cheated on her.
  • She ended up rediscovering herself and wrote "Breakup Bootcamp," which offers advice based on her experience, the experiences of her newly-single clients, and researched studies on relationships.
  • Chan said she 100% endorses deleting any trace of you ex from social media after a breakup because it helps your brain heal.
  • She suggested giving your ex advanced notice about your plan so they don't think you have ill-will or they did something wrong.
  • Visit Insider's homepage for more stories.

In our social-media age, breaking up with and moving on from an ex isn't simple. After the relationship ends, you likely have an archive of memories together on Facebook and Instagram, and if you don't unfriend your ex, you'll see them pop onto your feed at the most inopportune of times.

That's why Amy Chan, a relationship advice columnist for more than a decade and author of "Breakup Bootcamp: The Science of Rewiring Your Heart," thinks deleting your ex from all of your social media is always a good idea.

Chan drew from her own experience undergoing a rough breakup, her work with hundreds of clients who attended her seven-day Renew Breakup Bootcamp retreat, and psychology and neuroscience research on how the brain and body react to relationship dissolution.

"One-hundred percent, detox from your ex," Chan, who wrote her book after her boyfriend of 8 years cheated on her and their relationship ended, told Insider.

"And it's not because they're a bad person. Detoxing from your ex doesn't mean that you hate the person or it ended on bad terms. It also doesn't mean you can't be friends again in the future, but you do need a period of time for your mind, body, heart, and soul, to transition from a relationship that's intimate or romantic to something else," she said.

Deleting your ex can help your brain move on from the relationship

Even if you have no ill-will towards a past lover, getting them off of your social media feeds and out of your mind is the best way to train your brain to move forward, Chan said.

When you're in a relationship with a friend, lover, or someone else, your brain forms neural pathways that are linked to memories you've had with that person. When they become absent from your life due to a breakup, your brain creates a separation response that elicits heartache, sadness, and grief, according to a 2015 blog from the journal Nature.

Chan pored over research studies, chatted with psychologists, and analyzed the results of hundreds of participants from her breakup bootcamp retreat. In doing so, she concluded images, videos, and other reminders of that person could pop up on social media and remind your brain of that loss, and make it more difficult to "prune away" the neural paths you built up over the months or years you were together.

But removing reminders of your ex by deleting photos together off your phone and profile, and blocking them on any social media accounts, can give your brain a breather so it builds new neural pathways, essentially rewiring itself to help you heal from the breakup.

Chan suggested giving yourself at least 30 days to detox from seeing your ex on social media, but said 60 days is ideal.

You can give your ex a heads-up

If you're worried how your ex could react to finding out you've blocked them, Chan recommended letting them know your plan beforehand.

She suggested saying something like, "Hey, it's not that I don't care about you or that I have ill feelings for you, but I need this time to heal, take care of myself, and focus on my self-care. For the next 60 days, I'm going to remove you off social media and not have any contact. Please respect my wishes."

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