Megan Fox’s soft breakup with Machine Gun Kelly is exploding on social media

On the eve of the Super Bowl, actress Megan Fox sparked breakup rumors when she deleted photos of rapper Machine Gun Kelly from her Instagram account and posted a video of what appeared to be his clothes and a letter on fire in a trash can.

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Below that was a cryptic caption with a quote from Beyonce’s infidelity anthem, “Pray You Catch Me.” Then, in a romantic social media coup, the actress followed everyone but Harry Styles, Timothee Chalamet and Eminem — a fellow rapper Kelly has had beef with in the past. It was messy, messy — and sparked widespread discussion online about the etiquette of “gently posting” your breakup on social media.

For better or worse, social media is often the first place we learn about the ramifications of a romantic partnership—whether it’s a celebrity power couple or someone in our immediate social circle. “Everyone has pictures of their significant other online, and if they ever break up, everyone will know instantly whether the photos will be deleted or they’ll suddenly stop posting them,” says Jacqueline Fae, author, celebrity matchmaker, and founder of IDL- match club.

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So, what exactly does it mean to “soft-launch” your breakup online? Fae says, “A gentle start to a breakup is when you slowly let the world know that you and your ex have now broken up. For example, on Facebook you can delete your status. On other platforms, this means removing just a few images, not all at once.” She adds, “This is a gentle approach to letting everyone know you’ve broken up, but you’re not being upfront about it.”

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While this is a kinder and gentler way to announce your breakup on social media than, say, publicly burning possessions, Fae encourages couples to discuss their feelings and boundaries on social media before it comes to that point — ideally, when they do it together for the first time.

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“Some people are very private and don’t go on social media at all, while others absolutely love it. This is where relationships can be difficult when a partner is an influencer and starts a relationship with someone who doesn’t like social media,” says Fae, who has seen relationships fail because a partner is tired of constantly taking photos and too have your relationship projected onto social media. As a result, “social media etiquette is a brand new value that people need to consider when entering into a relationship,” she says.

Perhaps this means preserving quality time with your partner by only including social media content when they’re not around, or asking for their consent before posting anything online containing it. Either way, it’s important to talk about what each person is comfortable with in the relationship and “respect their values ​​and needs,” says Fae.

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When the relationship is no longer viable, Fae suggests it’s important to take time to “truly give yourself love as you go through the process,” rather than rushing to announce it online. She shares, “Honestly, you don’t have to announce it. It’s not the business of the world. Start posting pictures that make you happy, either of yourself or of you doing something fun with your friends.”

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If you’re someone who enjoys expressing yourself on social media, Fae says, be honest but kind. “A lot of people post about their breakup because it’s their way of letting everyone know they’re single again. Most importantly, never hit the person or say anything negative about them. Airing your dirty laundry on social media really doesn’t look good,” says Fae.

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Finally, remember that there is a period of grief that everyone goes through after breaking up with their significant other. “You have to grieve — if you jump into another relationship, whatever problem you had in your previous one will follow you into the new one,” says Fae.

Instead, Fae encourages people to take their time to grieve and not immediately announce that they are single and ready to mingle. “I think it takes about a month or even three months to go through that process before you start dating someone else,” she says.

However, life is unpredictable. If you happen to meet someone during the grieving process, remember that communication is key. If you’re still processing the loss of your most recent relationship (or, um, fighting the urge to set fire to your ex’s belongings while live on Instagram) — be honest. Fae says, “For your own sake, communicate all of those feelings with any new potential partner, or there could be an unwanted rebound.”