ICYMI: Ariana Grande and Pete Davidson — the totally weird celebrity pairing that recently shocked Grande's fans — are reportedly engaged after only a few weeks of dating. Their whirlwind romance is fascinating enough to catch our attention on its own, but Grande and Davidson both just ended relationships. So even though many fans are celebrating their love (and Grande and Davidson absolutely deserve that), many also find themselves worrying about their respective exes, Mac Miller and Cazzie David.
And it's no wonder why. As we watch Grande and Davidson flirt over Instagram, many of us can probably recall what it felt like to see our own exes fall in love again via social media. It's not a great feeling. Even if you know that you and your ex broke up for a damn good reason, it can hurt to know that they've moved on (whether they get engaged in what feels like the blink of an eye or not). So what can you do to assuage those not-great feelings? Do you have to give up on Instagram for good?
If you're the kind of person who can't open Instagram, Facebook, or Twitter without an irresistible urge to check your ex's pages, then a social media cleanse might be a good idea, says Marlynn Wei, M.D., a psychiatrist in New York City. Because even though you know checking up on your ex is a bad idea, you just can't help yourself. So Dr. Wei suggests taking a few weeks off of social media to focus on yourself. "Spend time with friends, do yoga, go to the gym, go out in nature, and do the self care things you need to feel connected with either yourself or with your friends," she says.
This kind of self care is what breakup coach and dating strategist Natalia Juarez calls a "holistic breakup," because if you work on other parts of your life instead of worrying about what your ex is getting up to, it'll actually make you feel better. In her eyes, getting rid of your social media for a few weeks and then unfollowing your ex once you feel ready to re-join is preventative. It's protecting yourself from feeling terrible. "Disconnect in as many ways as possible from your ex, so that they're not just popping up," she says. "Because maybe an ex has moved on, but you don't have to know about it until a few months later when you're in a better place."
But, if temptation proves too much and you do end up looking at your ex's Instagram, Facebook, or Twitter page, Dr. Wei wants you to remember that a person's life is rarely as bright and shiny as it looks on social media. "The first thing I like to tell people is that it's hard to compare other people's outsides to what you're feeling on the inside," she says. You're intimately acquainted with your own emotions, but even if your ex does post a few happy Instagram photos, you can't know that they aren't also still upset about your split. And even if it's pretty clear that your ex has moved on (because they've started a new relationship or, you know, gotten engaged), their happiness has no reflection on you. "It doesn't matter because it's not about them anymore," Juarez says.
If you're still struggling to let go, just remember that you and your ex broke up for a reason. If seeing your ex happy with someone else makes you feel as if you're missing out, Dr. Wei suggests writing a list of the reasons that you broke up. Maybe you fought all the time, or you lost trust in each other, or you weren't feeling the romance anymore. No matter what, the reasons you had for breaking up won't have changed just because your ex found a new partner. And Juarez says that realization can actually be a blessing. "So many people when they break up say 'Give me time. Maybe in a year we'll get back together,'" she says. "And it can be so limiting to hold on to that."
So maybe seeing your ex move on via social media is actually a good thing. Because it puts a hard stop to any idea you might have had about getting back together, and lets you focus on yourself. Because that's how you're really going to heal.