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Should you slam your ex like Miley and Shakira or stay quiet?

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From heartbreak queen Taylor Swift, to Justin Timberlake’s post-Britney Cry Me a River, the art of the breakup song is a well-known trope. Over the weekend, Miley Cyrus and Shakira shared their own versions. But it’s not only celebrities who are grappling with public breakups today, with social media giving everyone the ability to divulge the details of a split if they wish.

So how do we know when, what, and how much to share after a breakup? Nicole Colantoni, a relationship coach based in Sydney, has worked with influencers to craft breakup announcements. “Don’t overshare, don’t publicly shame, and don’t disrespect your ex,” she says.

Cyrus’ new single, Flowers, has led many fans to suspect the track is about her ex-husband Liam Hemsworth. The couple began dating in 2010, and married in December 2018, before splitting less than a year later.

Fans have pointed out that Flowers bears a striking resemblance, both tonally and lyrically, to Bruno Mars’ When I Was Your Man. Cyrus posted a video dancing to the song on her wedding day in 2018, while others have speculated that Hemsworth dedicated the song to her, although this has never been confirmed. In the 2012 song, Mars sings, “I should have bought you flowers/And held your hand”, and in Flowers, Cyrus sings, “I can buy myself flowers” and “I can hold my own hand”.

In the song’s opening verse, Cyrus alludes to the 2018 wildfire that destroyed their California home. “We were right ’til we weren’t/Built a home and watched it burn,” she sings. In a 2019 interview with Vanity Fair, Cyrus credited the tragedy with pushing her and Hemsworth to tie the knot.

The music video was also filmed in the Los Angeles mansion where Hemsworth is thought to have had an affair. Cyrus is pictured working out and joyfully dancing inside it, as if to reclaim the space of her trauma. And if that isn’t chaotic enough, Cyrus released Flowers on Hemsworth’s birthday.

Also dragging their ex through the mud in a very public manner is Shakira, who released a record-breaking diss track last week. The Colombian singer split from her husband of more than a decade, Football player Gerard Piqué, last year. Piqué has since started dating 23-year-old Clara Chía.

The track, which Shakira collaborated with Argentinian producer and DJ Bizzarap on, racked up 63 million views in the first 24 hours after its release, and has since been viewed more than 131 million times, making it the most watched new Latin song in YouTube’s History.

“I’m worth two 22-year-olds,” the 43-year-old Shakira raps, referring to Piqué’s much younger new girlfriend. “You swapped a Ferrari for a [Renault] Twingo/You swapped a Rolex for a Casio,” she continues. She also takes aim at her mother-in-law, the media, and her tax problems, singing, “you left me with my mother-in-law as a neighbour, with the press at my door and a debt to the taxman.”

To post or not to post?
Colantoni says the most important part of a public announcement is to get on the same page with your ex about what to say. Being careful about what you disclose is the second. “Your relationship was private, so respect this and only confide in trusted friends or family.”

Stephanie Rigg, a Sydney-based relationship coach, has some straightforward advice when it comes to posting on social media after a breakup: Just don’t. She tells clients to “take the high road, act with integrity and preserve your dignity.” She points out that emotions are often high after a breakup, and might lead to rash decision, leaving you with a “shame hangover.”

While Rigg is sympathetic to the fact that a public post can save couples the “emotional labour of reliving a breakup over and over,” she says you are “casting a wide net” to everyone from co-workers to schoolmates by posting. “I’d err on the side of letting people know if and when you feel safe to do so. You can even just say, ‘Hey, just letting you know this happened, I don’t want to talk about it right now’.”

If you need to vent…
We can all admit that a post-breakup vent can feel pretty good. But while it can be tempting to do so, Rigg warns against the public vent. “If you’re needing help, reaching out to a trusted person is going to be far more supportive.”

“I even discourage people from venting to their ex,” she says. “You just bring up old wounds and baggage.” This doesn’t mean burying your feelings – Rigg suggests writing a letter addressed to your ex that you’re never going to send.

Should I continue to follow my ex?

Both Rigg and Colantoni agree that having a period of no-contact with an ex following a split is important.

“I generally recommend 30 to 60 days no contact,” says Colantoni. “If at all possible, take your time before you make that announcement.”

When it comes to whether you should remove your ex from your social media altogether, Rigg says that it’s not usually necessary if you’ve had an amicable breakup, but you need to be discerning about how you feel. “If you see a pH๏τo pop up and start feeling stressed or upset,” then you may need to act.“I also really love the different options on social media, I often recommend just muting them for a while,” adds Colantoni.

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