Managing your romantic relationships online can be hard.
Facebook just made it easier.
If you recently dumped a longtime lover but still want to be “Facebook” friends, you can manage how much content your old flame can see.
“When a relationship ends, we’ve heard from people that they sometimes have questions about the options available to them on Facebook,” said Kelly Winters, Facebook product manager.
The fact is we’ve had most of these tools for regulating what ex-partners can see and limiting how they communicate with us on Facebook (without “unfriending” them).
These tools are now a little easier to access. Once a relationship status changes, Facebook automatically triggers options for users to manage the change.
“When people change their relationship status to indicate they are no longer in a relationship, they will be prompted to try these tools,” Winters said.
Facebook started testing these new these tools in November on the mobile app. All of the tools are optional, and information about how to use them is accessible through the Facebook help center.
Note: There’s still no tool to stop an ex from dumping you via Facebook Messenger. But if your boyfriend ends the relationship on social media (or text message), he probably wasn’t the right guy for you (or anyone), anyway.
Here’s how the new relationship management options work:
1. Limit what you want to see. The first option you’ll have is to limit what you want to see from a former partner. For example, let’s say your ex is posting images of her new dates, and you’re just not ready to see (or accept) that she’s moved on. No problem. Choose to see less of her pictures and posts without having to unfriend her. Her posts won’t appear in your News Feed, and her name won’t appear as a suggestion when you tag friends in photos or post new messages.
2. Limit what your ex can see. Maybe it’s you who has moved on, and you’d like to share the news of a new love with other friends. Consider limiting access to photos, videos or status updates, and eliminate the temptation for the ex to communicate with you through Facebook Messenger.
3. Change history. Aside from amnesia, there’s really no way to forget a longtime love, but Facebook helps you manage some of the permanency of those old posts. You can alter status updates, limit who can see those posts, and “untag” yourself from posts and pictures with the ex.
4. Prepare for the future. As always, you should consider checking your privacy settings. Consider what you post before you post it, and always think about who can see your information. When you post a new image, there’s a chance your ex will still see it, especially if you set the post to public.
Of course, what Facebook doesn’t offer is a therapy tool for your big breakup.
Maybe that option will come with the next Facebook update.
Dr. Adam C. Earnheardt is associate professor and chair of the department of communication at Youngstown State University in Youngstown, OH, USA. He researches and writes about social media and technology, sports and fans.