TODAY

TODAY   |  July 25, 2013

Ex-tiquette: Reconnecting with old flames online

Maureen O’Connor from New York magazine and psychologist Jeff Gardere discuss how it’s harder to break up with an ex-boyfriend or girlfriend if you’re connected with them on social media. They explain when it’s OK to communicate and when it’s best to resist the temptation.

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This content comes from Closed Captioning that was broadcast along with this program.

>>> before social media to find out in f an ex-love -- if an ex-love had moved out, you would get an update or like ca rcarrie from " sex in the city ," you would run into him on the street corner with his new baby. painful. with tumbler and instagram and sites, the stalking has begun.

>> is it good to know your ex has moved on, has three beautiful children, a dog, and lives in some exotic place? maureen o'connor has written about just that in this week's "new york" magazine, and psychologist jeff -- jeff epstein is here to weigh on the new norm. a thin jeff . working out.

>> you are very fit.

>> i want to be like a superman, but don't get me started. okay.

>> let's talk about it. this is one of those things. it's tempting. you spent a chunk of your life with someone and you don't know what's happened with them. it's easy to do it anonymously. easy to kind of stalk. a lot of people do do it.

>> and there's an element that the social media 's built around making it easy to run into somebody -- you type in an e-mail and it goes to a different name, an automated birthday reminder. this technology makes it so you could perpetually bump into each other. we talk about how the digital age lets us connect. we can't disconnect in some ways.

>> we want to be this out of sight, out of mind when we break up with someone. they keep dragging you in back in. they're everywhere on the internet.

>> do you do that? do you go on line and peek?

>> i occasionally have peeked. not very often. i'm pretty much a clean break guy.

>> you are?

>> i cut it. that's --

>> if they allow the clean break.

>> is there something wrong with, though, justice being curious? there's a difference between a curiosity and a weird stalking/jealousy thing.

>> i think in some ways it's -- it's not all bad. i think in a lot of ways it's how we understand our personal histories.

>> right.

>> you always tell the story of your ex-boyfriend -- oh, remember when his that life. what would it be like if i stayed with him. you see it playing out. you can sort of see what it would have been like if i followed him to california.

>> right.

>> in ways it can be sad, but it can be comforting in ways and help you define who you ended up becoming.

>> is it helpful?

>> i think it is helpful sometimes to look back. you want to rewrite the history, but with a lot more healing as time goes on. so when you're able to look at what that person is doing, in some ways it does help you move on because you see the finality of it. where it becomes a bad thing is where now it's people, places, and things, and you go back to that time and crave that and you become jealous of the person's good fortune.

>> yes. all over again. terrible.

>> wish them well.

>> what if you see that they're engaged or something, and -- i mean, that's --

>> yay!

>> whoo!

>> should you write in and go, "congrats," or should you keep your hands off? what's the right thing to do?

>> you know, i think it depends. one thing i've notice sudden that my entire life that i have had a love life , i had a cell phone. and i had facebook, you know. i'm of that generation.

>> right.

>> what i find is that my friends and i as i was interviewing people, working and writing about this, a lot of us actually have sort of amicable relationships with exes or people that maybe would have forgotten. you know, we only went on two dates, normally you forget them. you sort of stay in touch. if you already have an existing, hey, i see you got a new job, congrats, i think it's fine to do the "congrats on your engagement."

>> would you like that if a girlfriend did that -- in connection with other ex --

>> in a word, no.

>> a lot of time less is more. when you send the congratulations -- and send responsibility. listen, i'm sorry things didn't work out, but i'm glad that you've moved on. i'm trying to move on. i think it makes it much better for both people.

>> i -- listen, if you're with somebody that's a no touchy-touchy, be with them. check in, but you have to let them know. listen, i'm going to check in. i'm doing this. otherwise you become carlos danger. can bring it