Facebook users who declare their love online may have a harder time getting over a breakup.
Steve Whittaker, a psychology professor at the University of California, Santa Cruz, headed a team of researchers that found one-third of people cannot bring themselves to delete relationship photos from their profile, causing them to suffer for a longer period of time.
The study involved interviews with 24 people who went through “valued digital and physical possessions that related to a recent breakup,” Whittaker wrote in an email. He then evaluated their coping strategies.
The study also found those who decide to delete digital memories from their profiles often regret it because they may want to look back on them. Still, some worry if their exes come back around, they may not forgive them for removing the pictures.
“A relationship change is one of those milestones featured on Facebook, and though it’s painful at the time, if the relationship ended nicely, you may want to cherish it and learn from it,” said UF social media specialist Bruce Floyd. “But I can see there are certain circumstances — such as an abusive relationship — where you may want to get rid of it.”
Some of the participants in the study admitted to immediately deleting their ex in order to cope with the sudden heartbreak.
“I know a lot of friends who have to delete their ex off their Facebook because it hurts to see them out living their life all happy . . . while you’re all sad and depressed,” said Genesis Lara, a 21-year old UF history junior.
Researchers proposed an application that could automatically detect anything related to a relationship and delete it — or at least store it away just in case of a second chance.
“If Facebook creates some sort of delete application, I think there should be an undo function that remembers those changes so that they can get those memories back,” Floyd said.