Trying to decode an ex’s social media posts

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Hi Meredith

Every time I go to my ex's social media, I tell myself, "this is going to hurt you" ... yet I do it anyway.

Sometimes I go months without doing it, other times I check it daily or weekly. My best friend never social-media creeps anyone on principle and enjoys the benefits of that self-protection.

What is your advice for social media? What's your take on the subtweet and looking for meaning that may be there ... but isn't? And if the meaning is there, why do we look for these bread crumbs?

My first love died a couple years ago; I will sometimes even go to his social media. I remember when the MSN messenger status was the forerunner of the subtweet.

Also, why do men sometimes tell you they love you when breaking up?

Thanks and keep up the good work.

– Decoding


You snuck in a big last question there. I'll start with that one, though. Sometimes people say they love you during a breakup because it's true. They care about you, still have feelings, and maybe (hopefully) want the best for you, but it's not enough for them to keep the relationship going. They want you to know it's a loss for them, too. It doesn't mean they're unsure about ending it.

As for the social media question, I have no philosophies that apply to everyone across the board. Some people benefit from checking an ex's account because it reminds them that it's over. But in your case, the ritual is not healthy. You assign narratives to these tiny posts and have no idea if they're true.

Just so you know, a few weeks ago, my close friend posted a message I assumed was a subtweet about her job. Turns out, it was not about work at all. I know her so well – I imagine I can read her mind much of the time – but I was wrong about the intent of her tweet. You're probably very wrong a lot about your ex's messages. They're not worth investigating.

Block the account. Follow someone new to make up for it, maybe a cool artist you like. Someone who inspires. As for your late ex, that's a bit different. It sounds like you revisit that account to remember a person you lost. It's more like a photograph or a diary.

If only I could go back in time to see my passive-aggressive AOL away messages. It's probably best that I can't.

– Meredith

Readers? Do you permit yourself to check your ex's social media? Advice for this letter writer?