I stared at the tiny circle in the top left corner of the screen that contained his smiling face. It wasn’t a great picture by any means, but that was to be expected. It seems like a rule that even the most attractive guys can’t take good pictures for their social media profiles. And no, he wasn’t the most attractive guy. But we had worked at the same place for the summer and after spending every day together, a quick and deep friendship developed. So naturally, I was helplessly, painfully attracted to him.
It was dramatic, sure. He had a girlfriend, but I made sure that we didn’t do anything until they ended things. I tried to be good. Once they were finished, however, I dived in headfirst and plunged to the bottom, quickly falling into what I thought was love and overlooking all of the red flags. We dated for one very intense year, and when we finally called it quits, I had never been more relieved. We were lethal, the two of us together. Anything but healthy.
The picture was old by at least three years, I decided, as I gazed at the smile that never reached his eyes. I recognized it as the same low-quality shot that adorned his Instagram when I first met him years ago. Back then I thought he looked cute, sweet even. Now I thought he looked like a villain, a wolf ready to rip apart his next victim.
It had been a long time since I looked at his profile. Three years, to be exact. We had had one of those messy breakups that lingered way longer than it should have. Even after we ended it, and even after we dated other people, there was still the brunt, stinking residue of a love that fails and a relationship that got burned. So, naturally, once the last stone was thrown and the last “fuck you” was uttered, we both maturely blocked each other on social media and left it at that.
Sure, I wondered about him as time went on, and friends would inform me about his life. “He’s dating someone new,” they said a few years ago, when a cute blonde started making appearances all over his pages. “They broke up,” I was informed, two years later, when I was so busy in my own life that I all but forgot about his existence. Then, finally, “He’s moving to New York,” they told me, just a few months ago.
“Who?” I asked, because at this point I was so much better, older, and more mature. Beautiful, obviously. And definitely humble. I didn’t even know who they were talking about. *That’s* how done I was and how great my life had become without him.
“You know who,” I was told, before being passed a phone and seeing his profile for the first time in years.
Seeing his face, his stupid, smooshed up face, made a fire pulse through my veins that I hadn’t felt in a long time. Love wasn’t there anymore. Love hadn’t been there in years since he treated me so poorly. But hate? Hate was something I was used to feeling. Hate was something that was coursing through my body as I looked at his tryhard captions.
That night, after getting a glimpse at his Instagram, I wondered if he ever asked about me. If any of his friends would report to him, saying things like, “She got a new boyfriend,” or “Damn, she really seems like she has her life together. You’re totally missing out, dude.” Did he ever try to view my accounts? Did he ever look at my face and feel a pang of regret?
It wasn’t that I missed him. It wasn’t that I was sorry, or sad, or cared. It wasn’t even that I wanted to see what he was doing with his life. I guess I just wanted him to see that I was okay. That I was better than okay since we ended things. That no matter what he had said or done to me, I came out better than any of us could have expected. Better than I expected, at least.
So, after three years, plenty of counseling, and half of bottle of Pinot Grigio, I typed in his Instagram handle and clicked unblock.
I have to tell you, it was a very weird feeling. Knowing when to block someone makes sense. You break up, she hooks up with your boyfriend, your grandma keeps commenting on your pictures saying that you look plump. Whatever it is, there’s a clear indication that you can virtually stonewall the person and not only will it make sense, but the other party can’t really say shit about it. Someone crossed a line, someone made the move that gave you the right to shut them out.
But unblocking? Unblocking is the Wild West of social media. It’s the bold move. The risky move. You almost never get a clear indication that the timing is right. That it’s okay to take down the wall. Unless you two get back together, just randomly deciding you don’t hate someone enough to prevent them from stalking your shit is an unsettling feeling. Before, you wanted them dead, and the thought of them looking at you posing in front of a wall made you sick. But now? You still want them dead, but you also absolutely want them to see you with your new boyfriend posing in front of a wall.
One day you wake up, and your desire for your ex to see you happy outweighs your desire not to let them see anything.
The worst part is, you’ll never know how you feel until you do it. Maybe you’ll unblock too soon, or maybe you’ll wait too long and forget that you blocked said person, and Instagram will die and they’ll never get to see your “I lost 10 pounds” post. Either way, what I wish for all of you is the happiness I myself received.
Because when I went to unblock him, his account still said private (even though it’s public) indicating I was blocked. But lo and behold, a mere tweleve hours later when I checked again, I was officially unblocked. And if the fact that your ex from years ago has been waiting for you to unblock him doesn’t give you hope for the sad, scary world, then I don’t want to live your life.
So go forth and unblock, ladies. Because the best revenge isn’t blocking. It’s showing him that in the time that’s passed you’ve gained 3,000 followers, a hot ass man, and plenty of ~Instagram worthy~ experiences. Oh, and you know. You’re like, happy or whatever..
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