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Breaking up these days isn’t as easy as it looks. Sure, you’ve got more media to send the message: email, text, Facebook, or Twitter if you’re really cruel. But how do you get over your ex when they keep popping up all over YouFace and you’ve got 32 mutual friends to keep your online bubbles connected?

At some point, regardless of how beautiful and thought-provoking and dove-releasing the breakup was, you just have to delete. You realize this somewhere in the middle of checking their (now activated) OKCupid profile for the tenth time that day, after you’ve rediscovered Google Buzz (because you rightfully blocked it) and find all the other people they were dating during your open relationship phase, after you’ve stared at their name in GChat for seven minutes, willing them to IM you so that you can turn up your nose at them. Through an emoticon, of course.

You shouldn’t worry about hurting their feelings. They won’t (immediately) notice that you’ve unfollowed or defriended them. You broke up, they’ll get over it, and maybe down the road you can re-extend that digital handshake of friendship. Besides, you broke up. That should be pain enough, unless they’ve got their priorities way out of wack. In that case, you’re doing the right thing.

But what to do about all those e-mementos? You know, the pictures on your phone, the pictures on your computer, the archived emails, the thousands of lines of chat stored in your email, the RSS feed of their blog, etc. You’ve read over those conversations three times each now, wondering where things went wrong. Do you delete those too? If you like saving happy things from your relationships, you can download your conversations and pictures to a flash drive that you’ll eventually lose and find months later when you’re moving apartments. Or you can archive everything, move everything to a hidden or buried folder. Or, you know, you can drink a bottle of wine by yourself and go on a massive deleting spree that’s never quite as satisfying as a real burn session, complete with fire and glossy photos.

When you deliberately limit your access to someone you once talked to everyday, you can get obsessive. At a certain point, you need to not just delete the person but block them as well. If your ex is all over the internet, it’s almost a necessity to block their blogs, their tumblrs, their profiles, and basically any other website they’ve touched or associate with. This is when you call in reinforcements, like an add-on for Firefox and the help of Google. When you start feeling that void in your stalker heart, just think of how your productivity has soared!

Eventually, you won’t need your online training wheels, but the internet and the Web 2.0 make it too easy to become glued to your ex’s every move, every published thought, every friend or potential new partner. You don’t need that, and it’s not healthy. Go ahead and crumple into a little ball on the floor of your shower, sobbing “dear God, why?! Why me? Why now?” Just don’t tweet about it to make your ex feel like a horrible person (and your friends cringe). Please.

Image from djking.

The Sexual Manifesto is Christine Borden’s weekly column on sex in the city, sex and culture, and, well, sex. Got a tip for Christine (and it’s not in your pants)? Email her at christine@sfappeal.com.

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  • PhilD

    I’m going through this right now! So far, we have kept all of our digital contacts in place, everything from Gmail chat all the way down to Twitter (yes, twitter is on the bottom of the hierarchy). The worst thing I have done is block her status updates from showing up on my Facebook. Even though the break up was cordial and mostly mutual, I wonder how long we can keep this up?
    Probably until the first time she starts a status update with “Had the best date last night…”