No one ever wants to plan for a breakup — but let’s be real: Breakups happen. And these days, as we spend so much time online, an IRL breakup needs to be accompanied by a digital breakup.
But what is a digital breakup, anyway? Well, let’s talk first what it isn’t: A digital breakup doesn’t mean breaking up over text! Don’t do that! Be a grown up and at least give them a phone call.
In all seriousness, though, a digital breakup is untangling all of the ways that your digital life is wrapped up with your significant other’s. So, for example, many of us share PINs or passwords or Netflix accounts or internet-connected devices with our romantic partners these days.
When you break up with someone, you don’t want to be constantly reminded of them by seeing their name on an account or getting a text asking about the Hulu password, right? Not to mention, you definitely don’t want them to be able to actually spy on your home via a video doorbell or terrorize you with weird messages over your Google Home. So it’s important to make sure that an ex no longer has access to any of those things.
What’s the first thing someone should do in a digital breakup?
The first step in a digital breakup? Change all your passwords and PINs! You know you “shouldn’t” have been sharing them in the first place, but let’s be real: People share these things when they’re in a relationship. But your passwords and PINs are the first layer of security to your entire digital life. So as soon as you dump ‘em, get online and start changing.
This is where a password manager comes in handy. With a password manager, you just need to remember one master password to unlock the “vault” that holds all of your passwords. They often also have a password generator, to help make sure all of your passwords are strong and unique.
And, if you want an added layer of protection, you can turn on multi-factor authentication on any accounts that allow it, like your email and your social media. It’s that extra step before signing in, where the account sends you a number via text, for example. That way if your ex does have your password — or you forgot to change it — they still won’t be able to access the account because they don’t have access to your phone.
What are some shared digital areas that people might not think of when they’re going through a breakup?
One big shared digital area that people often forget about is any IoT – or internet-connected – devices that people have in their homes. So, for example, you might have a video doorbell, like a Ring, or maybe you have a Nest smart thermostat. Take some time to think about the different IoT devices in your home, make a list, and then go through them one by one to make sure you’re the only one who has access to them.