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Pondering public heartbreak

I find breakups in the age of Facebook very strange.  Despite being on Facebook for years now, I’ve never actually dated anyone who was also on Facebook, so we haven’t had any awkward breakup unfriending issues.  And I usually keep my relationship status hidden, so there’s no major announcement on all of my friends’ feeds if things change.

But more than anything, I tend to be deeply private about heartbreak.  I can’t imagine posting a status update about the end of a relationship, and when I’m sad all I want to do is have private space for dealing with things – people calling or emailing to see how I am would be an intrusion, not a comfort.

So for me, building friendships in the world of extroverts requires some serious anthropological study.  For instance, one of my friends broke up with her long-time boyfriend this weekend – and said so online.  Throughout the day Saturday I saw supportive notes from other friends written on her wall, and thank you notes for being there for her written in return.  Seeing this, I realized that while my instinct was to give her privacy, this clearly isn’t in keeping with the social norms of the group, so I needed to consider my alternatives.  It appeared that other people called her to talk, but I ruled that out because I there are about 3 people in the world that I call just to chat.  Other people also seemed to go over to her house with food or just to be company, and that seemed like a nice idea, but what would I bring and how long are you supposed to stay?  It seemed pretty certain I’d make an awkward mess of it, especially since I’d keep thinking how much I’d want me to leave if I were her.  Still, I’m trying to make friends and I sensed that it would be a big step back in the friendship if I ignored this relationship news, so I finally settled on writing an email.  It was only two sentences offering company for a movie or drinks sometime this week, but it took me at least 10 minutes.  I’m pretty sure it’s not fully within the social norms of this group (it’s not terribly proactive), but it’s a big step closer than my initial reaction.

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