Getting ‘singled’ out is tough on the Web

Breaking up is always hard to do. But when couples split these days, they don’t just have to divide their friends, dishes and favorite restaurants. They also have to figure out how to untangle their digital lives.

“You need to visualize your breakup as exorcising your electronic connections as well as your physical connections,” says Anna Zornosa, vice president and general manager of Yahoo Personals, the largest online dating site, according to comScore Media Metrix, which tracks Internet traffic. And that, she says, does not just apply to teenagers who spend hours on social networks. Just about all of us use e-mail, cellphones and other devices to stay connected.

Do you block his or her name on your instant-messaging buddy list so you don’t see it pop up every time you log on? Do you read each other’s blogs? On social networking sites, when is it appropriate to change your status from “in a relationship” to “single”? Do you wait an hour? A day? A week? Do you remove your ex from your friends list? Do you go private so he or she can’t see what you’re doing?

“The best thing you can do for yourself after you’ve broken up with someone or after they’ve broken up with you is remove them from your digital life,” says Lisa Steadman, who runs the website Breakup Chronicles (breakupchronicles.com).

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