By: Erica House
When I first started dating seriously after high school, I often made the mistake of changing my relationship status (then on MySpace) to “In a Relationship” rather quickly. After a few years -- and a few more relationship status changes that led to well-meaning friends reaching out and making me feel even worse -- I realized the value in holding off on announcing my love from the virtual mountaintops.
The relationship change fallout is just one of many issues people face post-relationship now that many people chronicle their lives on the Internet. Since this phenomenon is fairly new, the research is limited, but a recent study did look into how a small group of participants handle digital records and reminders of an ex.
From the 24 participants (ages 19 to 34) interviewed, 12 were deleters, eight were keepers and four were selective disposers. Here’s where it gets interesting: Initial disposal tactics included changing one’s relationship status to “single” and immediately un-friending or blocking the ex-partner. After that, those who held onto everything took longer to heal and those who disposed of everything often regretted their decision.
To speed up the healing process, the researchers suggested a software program be developed to help eliminate all traces of the ex online using facial recognition. This “Pandora’s Box,” as they called it, would house all the photos and data to store for later strategic deletion or retention.
If there was an actual waiting list for this software, I would likely be first in line. At one point, back when I lived at home, I kept a photo of every person I dated and hung it on the wall -- a specific wall my family and I lovingly referred to as “The Wall of Shame.” Years later, I was in a serious relationship, and my then-partner asked me to dispose of the wall. What I wouldn’t give now to have access to those photos, for posterity’s sake!
Erica House holds a master’s degree in psychology and has been teaching at the university level since 2007. In addition, she is a certified personal trainer and freelance writer who is always trying to learn more and travel farther. After achieving -- and maintaining -- her own 50-pound weight loss, she is passionate about helping others on their journey to lifelong happiness and wellness. She blogs daily on her site EricaDHouse.com
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