The Digital Breakup: How to Cut Ties with Your Tweetheart

Once the relationship ends, should the social media connection end, too?

Forget the divorce papers -- when you unfollow your hubby on Twitter, then we know it's over!

That's exactly what Kim Kardashian did, according to The E! reality star reportedly stopped following Kris Humphries, her husband of 72 days, on Twitter, though he continues to subscribe to her 140-character posts.

Kim and Kris aren't the first celeb couple to go through a digital breakup, though. In the midst of the infidelity scandal, Two and a Half Men star and Twitter fanatic Ashton Kutcher and his wife Demi Moore mutually unfollowed each other, reported (Don't worry; the two tweethearts have since reconnected).

So how should we handle the ex-factor in our online lives? We asked relationship and netiquette expert Julie Spira, author of "The Perils of Cyber-Dating" and "The Rules of Netiquette," some of our geeky-love conundrums:

iVillage: When do you change your Facebook status? How should you handle that?

Julie Spira: Before you change your Facebook relationship status from "In a Relationship" to "Single," make sure you just didn't have a fight with your significant other. If there's a chance of reconciliation, your digital friends don't really need to know if "It's Complicated." If you're definitely broken up and still on speaking terms, let your ex know if you plan to change your relationship status.

I believe in having a transition time after you break up, so the safest bet is to avoid posting a relationship status completely. (If you want to completely remove your relationship status, here's how: Go to your Facebook profile page, select "Edit Profile," then select "Friends and Family" from the left-hand menu and change your "Relationship Status" to "Select Relation.")

And as for new couples, I strongly believe that you shouldn't change your Facebook status from "Single" to "In a Relationship" until you've talked about it with your significant other. Too often I see women changing their statuses, while the men still remain "Single." Having a few dates shouldn't digitally qualify you as being "In a Relationship."

I suggest you sit down with your partner and ask how he or she feels about changing the relationship status once you've agreed to be in an exclusive relationship. If he or she hesitates, don't change your status and wait for him to follow suit. It's a digital way of giving a man an ultimatum and he won't be happy about it.

iVillage: Should you untag or delete pictures of you together on Facebook?

JS: While you're mending from a heartbreak in a Web 2.0 world, it's a good idea to untag yourself in photos with your ex. I personally believe you should delete them completely while you're healing. If you get back together, you can laugh about it and repost them. But why should you remain together in posts when he's already tagged on the arms of another woman?

iVillage: Should you unfriend your ex?

JS: If you find yourself staring at his Facebook wall, thinking he's happier without you or wondering if he misses you, it's time to unfriend him, or at least block his status updates from appearing in your Facebook stream. Even though you'll still share some friends in common, it'll help you to move on. Digital pining for your ex just isn't healthy.

iVillage: Should you unfriend mutual friends and/or your ex's family?

JS: There's no need to unfriend your mutual friends or his family members who you still like. After all, it's a breakup between two people, not your entire social circle. Take the conversation offline and let your friends know you don't want to hear the details of what he's up to. If seeing his photos in your mutual friends' streams upsets you, you can temporarily block their updates. If it's still too painful, it's time for a clean break.

iVillage: What are the rules for Twitter?

JS: If you're following him on Twitter, why would you do so after a breakup? You really don't need to know where he's dining or the great romantic trip he's on. Take a digital break and unfollow him to open your heart for a new beginning -- both online and off.

iVillage: What if your ex digitally bad mouths you?

JS: If you find yourself being bad mouthed, take the conversation offline. You don't want to cause a public display or start a  flame war (that's when individuals post personal attacks online). Pick up the phone and ask that he keep his feelings to himself. Remember, tweets and updates are indexed by search engines. You don't want to create a permanent digital footprint of a nasty breakup!

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