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What to avoid doing on social media during your divorce

Social media can be an amazing tool for connection, keeping up with family and friends and sharing your own highlights. However, when going through a divorce, it can be tempting to turn to your social pages to vent, or stalk your ex. This is where social media can become more of a risk than a reward.

Chloe O, certified divorce and separation coach, discusses the perils of social media when you are going through divorce, and where best to seek help.

What to avoid on social media during divorce

In our world of virtual communities and social media, most of us tend to go online to share our latest news, good or bad. While social media has its clear advantages in that it connects people all over the world, we are all growing more aware of its downsides as well. In this context, one must tread carefully when seeking information and support online during a divorce, as things can easily backfire.

In this article, I share my top three tips on things to avoid on social media during a family breakup. The objective here is to avoid making common mistakes and deepening the pain that comes from this already difficult life transition.

Don’t follow your ex

It can be tempting to try to gather information on how your ex is doing during or after the separation, especially if you now have limited contact. As in all relationships, we are often curious about how the other person is faring and feel a need to compare our post-breakup state to theirs. Resist the temptation!

First, we all know that social media portrays a distorted version of reality, as people mostly post about how wonderful their life is: happy times with friends or travelling to exotic destinations. In fact, the version of someone’s adventures as depicted online can be very different from their life in the real world.

So, if you see pictures of your ex out partying or with someone who looks like a new partner, please take this with a grain of salt and understand that the image might not correspond to reality.

Most importantly, keeping track of your ex online is extremely detrimental to your own recovery. Trying to gather information on how they are doing and who they are spending time with keeps you from moving on with your life. It will also probably create some degree of heartbreak as it will be a reminder of the life you both no longer have.

Furthermore, this will inevitably lead to a comparison game between yourself and your ex, trying to figure out who is moving on faster. The pictures of laugh-filled nights out may be intended specifically to spite you, but even if they are not, they will often cause you to feel like the other person has adapted to the new situation too easily.

Therefore, my main piece of advice here is to stop following your ex online, even if you have remained on good terms. You really don’t need to know where they went for the weekend or with whom they had dinner last night. Spare yourself the heartbreak and the frustration.

Don’t seek advice from strangers

There are countless Facebook groups and similar forums that offer virtual support to people experiencing divorce. The challenge with these is that they are often filled with people who do not understand the divorce process and feel a need to share their own experience.

Seeking advice on these forums can be very risky, especially if you are not being supported by a trained professional who can help correct any misconceptions.

The people who will be answering your posts and your questions will be strongly biased by their own experience and are likely to project their own feelings on to you, possibly making you feel worse than you already did. Most importantly, they will be sharing their specific situation, which may be very different to your own, potentially even from another country.

Remember that legal advice cannot be provided by someone who does not know your case and isn’t a legal professional because a “one-size-fits-all” answer doesn’t exist.

Even if you are simply scrolling on social media for information about divorce or how to handle a difficult ex, make sure you always consider the context within which the advice is being given: what country is the post talking about? What is their agenda or objective in sharing this information? Anything you gather through social media will need to be validated and checked as it may be false, or simply not apply to your specific case.

The best approach if you require support or facts about divorce is to contact a professional. It is unfortunately more expensive than scavenging online, but it is by far the safest way to get reliable advice that you know will not lead to costly mistakes.

Don’t spread your divorce story on social media

In the loneliness of divorce, many people seek to gather support from others through social media. By sharing their sadness and their ex’s poor behaviour, they receive validation and gain comfort regarding their situation.

While it is very clear that divorce can be a time of great isolation, there are much better forums for sharing your feelings and discussing your situation. You can consult a therapist or a divorce coach. You can also speak to friends directly or join a support group. Either way, these conversations should not be splattered all over the internet.

One reason for this is that data posted on social media is very hard to retrieve. Once something is out there, it is no longer in your control. This means that if you write something at a time when you are feeling particularly upset and later regret doing so, your post will already have reached hundreds if not thousands of people. This potentially includes your ex and friends of your ex, which might lead to inflaming the conflict even further or even being used against you in court.

Similarly, this information may be accessed by your current or future employers, who are probably not the people you would like these types of posts to be read by.

Finally, and most importantly, your children may stumble upon your social media stories later on, or they might be shared with them by a friend (or foe!). Whenever you write something on social media, ask yourself how you would feel if your children saw it. Do you really want them to read a long rant about what a horrible person their other parent is? Or about the intimate parts of your relationship? Be aware that the heightened feelings you will likely experience during divorce will lessen over time. But the words you have posted online will remain, out of context and for all to see.

There are probably many more words of caution that can be added to this list of social media misuse during divorce. Remember that social media can be a dangerous tool as well as a social connector. Even innocent posts could be used against you in a court of law or of public opinion, such as posts that display a lavish lifestyle or a new relationship. Until your divorce is fully finalised, it is a good idea to stay away from social media, if you can.

More about Chloe

Chloe O. is a Certified Divorce Coach and conflict resolution specialist. She works with her clients to support them through the ups and downs of divorce, helping them to part ways more peacefully in order to preserve their children’s and their own well being. Chloe offers a free discovery call for new clients so don’t hesitate to get in touch if you want to discuss your specific situation and challenges.

Divorce coaching at Stowe

More information about divorce coaching at Stowe Family Law. 

The blog team at Stowe is a group of writers based across our family law offices who share their advice on the wellbeing and emotional aspects of divorce or separation from personal experience. As well as pieces from our family law solicitors, guest contributors also regularly contribute to share their knowledge.

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