Nathan Bransford, Author

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Divorce in the Internet Era

A year ago, as my first novel was being published and I was starting a new career, I was also dealing with one of the hardest stretches of my life due to an unexpected divorce.

The divorce particulars won't break new ground in the genre, and I don't pretend my experience is any more or less painful than what others have gone through.

But in the era of Facebook, Twitter, Google, e-mail, and blogs, this literally isn’t your parents' divorce anymore. Thanks to the Internet there are things we never before had to worry about confronting, and no roadmap on how to get through. The essentials of divorce may be the same, but the digital landscape new divorcees confront is new and deeply strange.

A Life Lived Online

Lest you think the peculiar challenges of getting divorced in the Internet era are limited solely to the highly connected, I should say I've never really lived my life in public. My Internet presence is devoted almost entirely to my professional life, and while I might peel back the curtain to flaunt my horrific taste in television shows, my day-to-day life has mostly been off-limits.

But my personal life inevitably crept onto the Internet, whether I wanted it to or not. I never even told the Internet I was getting married in 2008, but when I announced on my blog that I would be featuring guest posts for a few weeks, one anonymous commenter guessed that I was going on my honeymoon. Then another managed to find (and link to) my gift registry, which I hadn't even realized was online. I deleted those comments, but shortly thereafter "Nathan Bransford Wedding" became the second most-searched term involving my name, a position it has bizarrely occupied ever since. ("Nathan Bransford Divorce" has risen to #3 on Google, despite my never having mentioned the divorce online.)

Shortly after our marriage, my then-wife started a blog that chronicled and photographed our real life. Despite being uncomfortable blurring our public and private spheres, I linked to her and mentioned her by name.

My private life was creeping online anyway. It seemed futile to resist the semi-public nature of the Web, which was fine until my marriage unraveled.

That Awkward Moment When You Run Into Your Ex on Facebook...

Post-divorce, the Internet has become a personal minefield. There was the time shortly after the split when LinkedIn suggested I connect with my ex's new boyfriend. There was a time when Facebook kept surfacing "remember this moment?" photos of me and my ex from my mom's profile. I hid and changed my relationship status in the dead of night so as few people as possible would notice the change and ask me about it.

Worst of all is Gmail, which has one of the most maddening "features" to confront anyone going through a breakup. Nearly every time I wrote an e-mail to friends this past year, Gmail oh-so-helpfully suggested I include my ex-wife in the e-mail. And you can't turn this off. It still happens, despite my pleas to Google to make it optional. (Google obviously doesn't employ enough divorcees.)

That awkward moment of running into your ex can happen virtually at any time, even when you're comfortably sitting at home. Every mutual friend's Instagram feed is an encounter waiting to happen. Every search through e-mail to find an address or a phone number is a danger zone of old conversations and memories.

Blog readers and interviewers still ask after my wife, questions I have become increasingly skilled at dodging. Uncomfortable as it is, I can’t put the genie back in the bottle.

When my ex and I split, she adopted a scorched Earth approach to social media. She deleted her Facebook profile and blog entirely and started new ones. (Facebook dutifully suggested I befriend her new profile.)

I didn't have the luxury of starting over. I had four years of posts devoted to writing and publishing, and discarding all of that because of a few mentions of my ex wouldn't have made any sense. I could have gone back and scrubbed all mentions of her, but who has that kind of time?

It's all out there anyway. It's my life, I can't pretend it didn't happen. The Internet makes it impossible to cover your tracks.

The Web Doesn't Forget

To move on emotionally after a divorce or a breakup, you have to forget. You gradually move on from the pain, the particulars of fraught conversations fade, your memories of being together become hazy, and you reconstruct your life. The relationship eventually feels like a strange dream you once had, and you move on. That's how we heal.

But the Internet doesn't forget. It has a perfect memory. And, what’s more, it’s constructed to force memories on you with the assumption that the experience will be pleasant.

Most people don't have a photo album of themselves and their ex sitting on their coffee table, but Facebook Timeline shows your past to all your friends unless you go back and spend a lot of time revising your past. My ex's new life isn't entirely out of view -- it keeps popping into my social media feeds and Google Reader.

I've had to draw up new blueprints with mutual friends to figure out how to navigate parties I'm not at that will be mentioned online. I've had to get used to the weirdness of commenting on the same friends' Facebook photos as my ex and living a strangely distant parallel life that sometimes can also feel way too close.

Our natural coping strategies can’t compete with Facebook and Twitter.

There is one big benefit to divorce in 2012, though. Now when I date new people, I don't have to have a painfully awkward conversation where I break the news that I'm divorced. Anyone who is a halfway-decent Google stalker has already figured it out.

This is My Life

I debated whether to write this post for a very long time. Telling everyone I'm divorced on the Internet isn't really my style. I'm a naturally private person, and a children's book author at that.

But there's barely such a thing left as a personal life anymore. Your life is preserved in Facebook status updates, Google searches, public records, and it's impossible to erase the past. Whether that's a good or terrifying thing is beside the point. It just is.

I could keep it ambiguous online, or just clear up the mystery. I could continue to dodge questions about my wife, or I could just come out and say I'm divorced.

I'm divorced. There's no hiding from it in the social media era.


Erika Robuck said...

Wow, I'm sorry to hear about all of that, but I admire your straightforward approach to dealing with the situation. Best wishes to you for the next chapter.

Sarah Tuttle-Singer. Yes, That's My Real Name. (Hi Dad.) said...

It's rough. I write a very public column for, a Jewish parenting website, and for months I couldn't come clean and acknowledge the yarmulke wearing elephant in the room -- and as a result, my posts were cheap knockoffs of the truth. Finally, I "came out" and wrote about it, and was stunned by the outpouring of support both in real life and online. It felt... great. Sometimes, admitting it boldly is the final step -- only when you get through it can you say it. And only when you say it are you truly over it.

Anonymous said...

Good point, and I'm sorry. I work in publishing (we know each other but I'd prefer to keep things anonymous). Similar to you I use social media frequently though never for my personal life. However when my wife and I split and I began dating, my name and 'divorce' began the second most Googled phrase for me, despite never mentioning it unless in person.

I started online dating, which led to this awkward text exchange:
My ex: "You're dating X's ex-wife?" (X is the guy my wife left me for, who divorced his wife to be with mine)
Me: "No, why do you think that?"
Ex: "She told X you showed up in her 'matches' online, so you're seeing her?'
Me: "I don't even know who she is, I've never met her and don't know her name!"
Ex: "Oh, ok. Well please don't date her."

Even changing my Facebook status, as you said, was an emotional roller coaster. And her family and friends still 'like' photos I post, and I don't have the heart to defriend her parents, but I wish they'd have a little tact.

Emily House said...

Thank you for the honesty. This post will help a lot of people.

Anne Lyle said...

I feel your pain. My ex and I have mutual friends, and FB for a while would helpful suggest that I friend my ex because of it *sigh*

Thankfully we split up before either of us joined FB, so that's about our only connection. Things have changed a lot in the past five years, and not all for the better...

Katie said...

While I love technology and social media, but I have noticed a MAJOR shift in how publicly we live and make our lives. I am not comfortable with it AT ALL.

I've learned things about my own family members via Facebook that make me cringe and want to cover my face in embarrassment. I wish things were a little simpler, but I feel that they will only become much more complicated as time -and technology- rushes on.

I am sorry about your divorce, but I congratulate you, too. Divorce is not a pleasant experience, but it means that one or both of you decided to make a change you felt was necessary. Not many people are comfortable with change, and those who act on it, instead of avoiding it, are usually better for it.

Have fun dating again! :-)

Criticus said...

Very sorry to hear about this, Nathan. Kudos for your honest and courageous approach to dealing with it.

simply call me Ira... said...

Actually, you don't owe anyone your story of your life, if you really want to share, Mr. Bransford. Quite big heart you've got that eventually you've shared it. Hope you feel relieved anyway. Nice and sweet story, I guess.

Cat York said...

I'm so sorry this is happening to you. Thank you for being so honest about the downfalls of a life online.

Rebecca Taylor said...

You are handling it so well. I can only imagine how difficult the entire situation has been for you--and her. I have always read and enjoyed your blog and even though I rarely comment, my thoughts go out to you both.

Bridget said...

Thank you so much for this post. My husband let me know 7 weeks ago that I will soon be a member of your club, because he doesn't want to be married anymore. I hadn't even thought of most of this stuff. Best wishes for the future and take care!

Brett Henley said...

You sir, are a brave man.

There is no hiding any more, but at least you're handling the inevitable discomfort with grace.

Life is full of ugly surprises, the dips, etc. -> everything is in how you react.

High five to you, and best of luck.

Court Merrigan said...

I admire the straight shooting.

Anonymous said...

Agree with everything you said, but I feel I should point out that divorces that involve children and visitation were already suffering from similar issues long before social media. If you co-parent even though you don't live together anymore, healing was much more difficult than if you could make a clean split and just go your separate ways.

Norma Beishir said...

Nothing is sacred on the internet, it seems. Sorry you've had to go through this.

Wendy Paine Miller said...

Thanks so much for shedding light on what this has been like for you. I’m hoping it will help us all be mindful and empathetic in the future. Brave and necessary post!
~ Wendy

Nathan Bransford said...

anon @ 7:23-

Bro tap


Hang in there! It's rough before it starts getting better.

anon @ 7:33-

Yeah, I hear you, it's something I've seen friends go through. I'm fortunate (if you can be fortunate in these things) to have had a clean break, I can imagine how much more difficult it is when that's not possible.


Thank you!!

Limari Colón said...

Dear Nathan:

I admire your honesty. I can assure you that you are right where you need to be at this moment in your life. You are young, smart, handsome and your career is thriving.

I use to believe my ex was the love of my life. I suffered and tortured myself thinking about how I messed everything up. A little over a year after things ended between us, I met my current husband, whom I've been with for almost five years and fathered my first child.

I thanked my ex many times (in my mind, of course), for setting me free and helping me find and keep the love life I always wanted (and would never be able to have with him).

Have fun. Enjoy your life. You have God's favor. You are more than enough, destined for greatness. You write beautifully, and have great ideas. You are healthy, and have many years to come.

Remember life is just a ride. And it is in these moments (the ones that hurt) that you discover how precious living in the present really is.

Many blessings,

Charise said...

As if it's not hard enough. I'm "in process" and joked that one of things I dreaded most was changing my FB status. But I was only half-joking. I've been doing humor pieces on my blog to avoid the whole thing.

John Elder Robison said...

All I can say is, it may get better with time. My first ex wife and I are friends today, and she has her own blog and FB. She often writes her views of stories from my past, and it's okay.

My second ex and I still own the car company together and we see each other every day. It was hard for a while but if you are together in real life the Internet is not really an issue.

I do know what you mean, but if you can move on constructively the "online past" becomes less painful

Jill said...

I'm glad you said something. In the end, the truth will set you free - both in your writing and your heart. Hang in there.

R. A. Mare said...

This is a brave and useful post. Thank you.

Joy D. Fanning said...

Loved this post. I've been divorced two years and its rough. I can say though that I was able to turn all those negatives into positives and be a person I am proud to be.

Stephen Parrish said...

I had no idea. I'm sorry.

The Circus said...

I blocked my ex. And his new wife (who moved in a week after I moved out). Now if we're commenting on mutual friends photos on fb, we are blissfully unaware of it.

Isobel Carr said...

Yep...just last night my sister came over to help redesign my facebook page (she does this for a living) and BAM there was my ex staring at me from her FB freinds box. Blech. & FB will not stop suggesting him as a friend no matter what I do.

Lisa Shafer said...

I am sorry you had to go through a divorce, Nathan. But thanks for this post. I had no idea it was like this until reading your post.
Thank heaven my own divorce took place in that distant era when all I had to was change my name on my only (then) e-mail address.
However, that makes me think, though, that a woman today might have even more internet troubles than you just mentioned; at least you didn't have to deal with changing your name and changing it back.

Thanks for being personal today and sharing this. I bet it helps some people as they go through deleting pics and posts themselves.
And I'm going off to count my blessings that I've never even cyber-bumped into my ex anywhere. (I'm sure he's glad, too. Our lives are very, very much in different directions now.)

Cheekychook said...

As usual, Nathan, your post is thoughtful, straight forward and honest, which is the reason you have so many people who read your blog. I'm sorry to learn that you've had a rough time of things and can sympathize about having circumstance and social media put you in a position where you felt it became necessary to do something you wouldn't have otherwise chosen to do. Social media turns the entire world into a gossipy small town and, sadly, when everyone else is already talking about your personal business sometimes it's best to just set the record straight and speak for yourself. Clearly you were brave enough to do just that. Hopefully it will put some of the chatter to rest and will give you some peace. Don't underestimate how much your openness will help others who are going through the same thing. Wishing you all the best in the future.

Anonymous said...

I admire your courage to be open and honest about an uncomfortable and difficult process.
I feel the pain in your post, and it hurts. Even cross-country.
Best of luck-

Mr. D said...

That does it. I'm taking a break from writing and giving my wife the attention she deserves.

William Kendall said...

I'm sorry you've had to go through this, Nathan.

India Drummond said...

Facebook often makes uncomfortable suggestions to me. I too wish there was a "please don't talk to me about this person" option.

I've stopped using most google products because I'm truly uncomfortable with the way I saw them using my data to make unwelcome suggestions about my life.

Heather said...

Thanks for sharing. I also went through a divorce and dealt with the weird social media issues that surround it. Since I'm female, I had to change my name as well as my status, which made it harder to discreetly hide my relationship status change (or, for that matter, my Twitter handle change) in the dead of night and hope no one noticed.

After awhile though, I came to realize...who cares if people notice? Yes, it's hard. Divorce sucks, plain and simple, no matter what the reason for the split is. But if anything, I've learned that I am certainly not the only person on the planet to get a divorce. No one wants to air their dirty laundry online, but why should we feel we have to hide, either? We're only human. Life happens. This is part of who I am, part of my past that made me into me. If people just treat each other with basic human decency, don't ask rude/weird questions, and simply be kind and respectful, we'll all get through just fine. (Of course, not everyone does that, but those people, well, suck.)

Anyway, this post really resonated with me. I can tell that it wasn't easy to write. Thank you, Nathan.

Lisa said...

I, too, don't know if I've ever left a comment here before, although I've been reading and very much enjoying your blog for a couple of years.
Kudos to you for facing your fear of having your painful breakup placed in the glare of the public spotlight. We live in a very strange new world of TMI, but your post was filled with grace and honesty.
You will almost certainly look back on this experience and smile at how grateful you are that you walked through this fire. Thank you for being honest, courageous, and sweet.

Anonymous said...

This definitely sucks, and I wish some of the social network platforms would try to offer a solution.

Shortly after I joined Facebook, Facebook suggested I friend the man who sexually abused me for three years, when I was a child (which shouldn't have been as surprising as it was, since he was related.) I blocked him, as I have in all areas of my life, so as not to be reminded of him, and Facebook promptly suggested I friend his wife. I blocked her. How about his children? Me: WTF?!

Eventually I blocked them all. But these days, it seems as if there's really no way to pretend the past didn't happen or try to ignore it. This man lives on the opposite side of the continent from me, but his name still pops in my FB feed, when extended relatives mention him in their posts--and there seems to be no way for me to block that, unless I sever all ties to my family. It sucks.

Donna Russo Morin said...

I also try to keep my personal life out of my social media postings but, after years and years of abuse, to find myself mired in a judicial system that was incapable or unwilling to help this person from further damaging me and my children--that enabled divorce lawyers to earn hundreds of dollars an hour while sitting around chatting in court room halls--the anger became against 'the system' and not personal, and, therefore, became increasingly difficult not to 'comment' on. Almost three years later and I'm still fighting for justice. Difficult to keep that out of my posts as it infests my life.

Natalie Aguirre said...

Thanks for sharing this. So sorry you had to go through the experience of divorce. I know all those Internet reminders must make the forgetting more painful.

I just starting practicing in family law again recently and hadn't thought of how Facebook and the internet can make my client's painful divorces more painful. I'll have to mention that to them. Thanks.

Elizabeth Young said...

I actually found your blog through this post, as I was interested to hear what you had to say about this, so I am thankful you came clean and took the genie out of the bottle for all to see. I applaud your courage and wish you the best in future endeavors.

Caroline said...

I'm sorry you are having to deal with this. There is nothing worse than being constantly reminded of a loss--whether it be the end of a relationship or a death. I've recently grappled with the death thing; I lost a great friend and mentor last year and now when I go on "Words with Friends" on Facebook, it asks me if I want to send a challenge to this dearly departed person (whose wife never deactivated his profile). It bothers me every time. :-(
Hang in there. I'm not divorced but I'm not ashamed to say that I've come very close. It's not a fun place to be.

abc said...

Oh man. Well I had NO idea. I guess I'm not a very good internet stalker. You are brave to put this out there even though it feels like you have no choice. I have always admired you--for your writing, for your wisdom, for your humor, and for your humanity most of all. I am sorry this happened, but you will prosper because you are you. Such a lovely, honest, helpful, and wise post, sir.

Anonymous said...

I'm so very sorry to hear you've been through a rough patch. I found the whole "telling people" part of my divorce very difficult and upsetting - and that was even without internet! But once people/family/friends knew, it was much easier to move on - the mystery and intrigue was gone and people can gather round and support you (and move on to other gossip :) Hopefully that happens for you too.

Even though I love the internet and the opportunities it provides for sharing and community, the flip-side is that sometimes private things become far more public than they should be. I think this was such a brave and smart move, to just lay it out there - better to remove any intrigue, and everyone can get on with their own lives.

Wishing you all the best!

Matthew J. Beier said...

Thank you for posting this, Nathan. It was an unexpected bit of depth for my morning, and it really popped my heart seams, to quote Lady Gaga. I really am sorry you have gone through this. Few things are more heartbreaking than a breakup, and the constant digital reminders can be quite difficult.

I remember after breaking up with my ex, I went through my old Facebook albums (full of my photography, not just "fun life times,") and removed picture captions talking about "my man" and such. It felt like erasing part of my heart, but it also felt necessary, somehow. That said, being able to keep parts of those happy memories public has reminded me that yes, they were part of my life, and I would do well to embrace and keep trying to learn from them.

Sometimes, these new digital factors of life get very frustrating, and I wonder if any of them are really worth keeping up. But then I think about how interconnected humanity truly is, and how we can also now learn from each other's plights/experiences, and I find some comfort in it. Your post this morning was a ray of humanity sent out into the digisphere, and it made me feel and think. So...thank you for that. I'm glad you wrote this post.

Bane of Anubis said...

I am terribly sorry to hear this, Nathan, though as others have suggested, this post will undoubtedly help others. May your journey to tomorrow be as quick and painless as possible.

Anonymous said...

Wow; thanks for pointing out these serious areas of insensitivity in social media. You're book(soon to be bookS) and posts inspire so many people, it's amazing how they could be so nosey and insensitive. Thanks for sharing, and sorry to hear that.

Fenris said...

I'm sorry to hear that, Nathan. To be able to admit it, though, speaks to your fortitude. Best of luck in your endeavors, and I hope some measure of happiness might assuage your pain.

Anonymous said...

I'm not a very good internet stalker either, I guess, and I admire you for being so honest.

Kristin said...


I am so sorry to hear this. A brave and helpful post.

Darley said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Carol Newman Cronin said...

Thanks for sharing this. It makes me "glad" I went through this back in the late 80s, when it was still possible to avoid the internet. But the shock was still the same when I came across a FB comment from my by then-20 years-in-the-past ex a few months ago...

Hang in there. And here's to second marriages! Some of us need a little practice to get it right.

Darley said...

The irony of your post is not lost on me, but I think you did the right thing.. for yourself. If it was that much trouble to avoid the subject then better to be open about it. I'm guessing you feel much better about things now, or will in time.

D.G. Hudson said...

Some of us have been through that particular fire, Nathan. I'm one.

I had to journal to keep my balance, since I had no one to confide in.

The web and it's connectedness seems to be increasing. In business, we called it 'entangling the customer'.

Thanks for sharing, Nathan, it's not a pleasant life event to endure. If you want to vent, we'll listen.

Anonymous said... just sucks that you have to deal with these things in addition to the pain that goes along with divorce.

Social media has been tough for me as well. I'm a publicist for a publisher so I'm in the public eye promoting my authors everyday. I've had a few weird experiences on FB that have caused me to remove pictures of my family and I'm considering removing my personal FB page all together. Apparently, you can look at pictures on FB without actually being someone's friend.

The lessons we learn I suppose. Good luck Nathan. You're awesome and I enjoy all your posts.

Emma Cunningham said...

I'm so sorry to hear about your divorce. Wishing you all the best for the future. I hope the Internet doesn't make this TOO much harder.

Josin L. McQuein said...

I'm sorry you've had to go through all this, Nathan. Rough times are enough to weather without an internet-fueled anchor tied to your feet. The idea that Google, FB, etc have stripped you of your choice in how much of your life to share is sickening.

I'm not the sort of person who goes looking for information on people without a reason. I can't imagine why someone would go to the amount of trouble required to first out your marriage in '08, then locate the gift registry (which is just plain stalkerish, IMO)

I never liked the idea of FB's timeline, but I hadn't actually considered it could impact someone this way.

Anonymous said...

Nathan, you're awesome. Thank you for sharing with us something you really didn't have to. Your honesty is admirable.

Now, on to being insensitive...


Remus Shepherd said...

I know where you're coming from, Nathan. My divorce was before the net existed, but my ex-wife eventually found me on Facebook. It was awkward.

I understand your grief, but a divorce is not something you should have to hide from. It's something you accept and move past. There's plenty of life yet to live, my friend.

Rick Daley said...

Stay strong.

Casey L. Conley said...

*silent support*

Andrea Franco-Cook said...

Although I'm a follower of your blog,regretfully, I seldom get the opportunity to read it (sorry). I tend to isolate myself in my writing cave. However, your post caught my attention today. I had no idea that you were going through such a painful ordeal (not much on celebrity gossip).

FWIW, I'm so sorry for your loss. Divorce is very difficult to deal with in the best of circumstances. I can't imagine how painful it must be to deal with such a personal matter under public scrutiny. I think it's smart to address the issue here. Now the gossips have nowhere to go.

If it's any consolation, I can tell you from experience, there is life after divorce. Stay strong and best wishes in the future.

Susan said...

I had to end a relationship with a family member this year - someone who has been in my life since I was born. Gmail still "reminds" me to invite that person into every single conversation. They really need an off button for that. Fortunately that individual is digitally clueless so I won't run into him elsewhere.

It sucks, but as Ann Landers once said, it's better to BE alone than to WANT to be...

Reagan Philips said...

This is the kind of "stuff" that makes me wary of social media. I dove into it (not in the deep end mind) because I wanted to do everything I could to develop a platform of sorts for writing in the hopes that I will someday be published.

But when I started looking up words in the online dictionary and saw my facebook profile stalking me--daring me to comment about why I was looking up that word--I freaked. Then I saw it bugging me other places.

Apparently, if you don't want your facebook shadow following you onto every search engine jaunt you must:

A. dress in a Columbo-style trench coat and head to the nearest library computer to do your searches (don't forget sunglasses--your profile might recognize you)

B. Log out of your facebook account and pray it does not find you

Yes, I'm making some jokes, but I really am serious about my worry of the ease the internet has to access my information. My habits. My life.

And you're right, once I put something out there, it's permanent. It is scary.

I'm sorry your personal information was so publicly displayed. I think it was brave of you to write this post using something so personal to share a lesson with us blog readers.

Melissa said...

Oh, Nathan! I am so sorry for both you and your wife. I've been reading your blog for quite some time now, and this comes as such a shock and surprise. Some people look at divorce as failure. I think it's anything but. The worst thing you could have done would have been to *not* marry your (ex) wife at all. You took a leap of faith that a lot of people are afraid to take.

Thank you for sharing with us.

(Also divorced — twice)

Anonymous said...

Dear Friend,

I've loved your blog for a while now. I'm so sorry to hear about your divorce. I wish you well.

Anonymous said...

Ok, here is a tip that worked for me. Block the person's name from Facebook. It will help it from popping up in your timeline at all. I am not divorced but I do have a next door neighbor who hates me and we have the same circle. I no longer see his name or posts; Facebook never asks me to remember him or his family members, who are also blocked. It has made social media less painful.

Elba Iris Pérez, Ph.D. said...

I love your honesty. This is the side of media that we haven't been talking about and I presume many of us are having similar experiences. I read your blog regularly though I never comment. I hope you have fun creating a new life for yourself and have fun dating. Meanwhile, we'll be here to continue reading your blog!

Anonymous said...

I'm sorry to hear about that. I am not divorced, but I know it is hard enough without the complications.

The only good thing I can think of is that if people see your status change, at least it won't come up like, "How's your wife?" when run into them and then you awkwardly say, "Oh, my ex-wife?"

Maybe that's small comfort, but there you go.

You are obviously smart and talented and handsome, so you're golden out there in the dating world. :)

Deri said...

First off, I'm very sorry to hear about your divorce. I went through a very painful break up with my fiance of six years at the end of last year, and I went through everything you mentioned. Even though we unfriended each other on Facebook, even blocked each other at one point to avoid the pain of accidentally "bumping" into each other, it was pointless. Mutual friends had pics of us both that would pop up in the side bar,like: "Remember this?" Uh ya, thanks. Well meaning friends would fill me in on his status updates regarding his new girl friend thinking I needed or wanted to know. I finally took a month long hiatus from FB just to stop the pain and resorted to using the FB messenger app on my phone to communicate with a few select people. The auto-fill feature on my email would almost always default to his name. And despite opting out of all the wedding-related newsletter type emails, I still get them in some form or another.

When I got divorced over 7 years ago, none of this was an issue. I had never even heard of FB and only used the internet to play card games and window shop on e-bay. How much the world has changed in such a short time...

stacy said...

Yikes. I'm so sorry to hear this. If it's any consolation, you had at least one blog follower who had no idea.

Eric W. Trant said...

Welcome to the club nobody wants to join! I'm divorced as of 2005, separated since 2003, and remarried as of this past St. Paddy's Day, 2012.

I ran into my ex on dating sites. That was the worst! We were perfect match on Match, and she saw my nutball profile on Yahoo and I saw hers. To make things worse, we still live in the same town (child together).

There's no getting away from it, ever. Til death do us part is not a promise to each other, it's an observation about marriage.

Stay sober and keep away from those clubs she never let you go to, and for god's sake don't get addicted to online dating!

That's advice I wish I had followed!

- Eric

Judy said...

If your books are nearly as well written as your blog posts, I think I shall have to purchase copies for my local middle school library. My kids are a little old for them and my grandson is still too young.

Jami Gold said...

I'm sorry to hear about this, Nathan. However, I've learned I don't stalk agents before submitting a query to them nearly enough (back when you were an agent). ;) (I didn't know about the wedding, much less the divorce.) *removes "internet stalker" from list of careers that would be a good fit*

For a while, people could easily go through a "starter marriage," where they could marry and divorce with no long term effects as long as no kids were involved. The true clean break where they'd never have to speak to each other or think of each other again.

In the age of online connections and social media, I think that era has passed. Thanks for the reminder about online privacy (or the lack of it). I hope you find a way to heal.

crow productions said...

I always list you as my favorite writing blog. There has been so much helpful information that you have given me for free. Hang in there. It get better with Exes, or it can. Keep being brilliant. Thank you for a great blog.

Jessica said...

Wow. I'm shocked, too. I think the reason for that is because you still gave your very best to us, your readers, even while you must have been going through an incredibly painful time. And that says way more to me about who you are than your marital status.

I appreciate your bravery and honesty.

Best of luck to you, Nathan, as you start this next chapter.

Maggie Mason said...

As you know, I went through this last year too. After twelve years writing online, it's been a blow to see the divorce supplant everything else in the search box suggestions.

Like everything related to divorce, how you handle it online is a mark of character. From behind a screen, it's so much easier to tear down your ex, or present a one-sided narrative, or even erase history. The divorce process is so painful, and the Internet is an ever-ready ear even when you're at your weakest.

This post is a high road, and it's no surprise to see you there. Low fives, Bransford; beers on me.

LCSterling said...

Nathan, divorce is a sad fact of modern life. Your well-balanced report here is a model of "holding it together" post-divorce. One of the most common reasons that divorce happens is that we simply grow in different directions as we get older, and hence we grow apart.

To add humor to a sober topic...

One of my favorite bumper stickers of all time: "Ex-wife for sale. Take over payments."

And now you get to use that most brilliant of pick-up lines, "Hello, I'm looking for the next ex Mrs. Bransford."

Francis said...

I'm genuinely sorry to hear about your divorce. I always thought you looked like a really nice person (plus you seem to love orange) and your blog has always been a great source of laugh, inspiration and guidance.

I will avoid the usual "time heals all wounds" rhetoric and simply wish you a speedy recovery on your road to single life. There might be a lot of new excitement and pleasure to discover there, too.

La vie n'est pas que rose... elle a toutes ses couleurs, ses peines et ses joies.

(I slipped)

Kate Garchinsky said...

I wish I had found something like your post to help me when I was in the midst of my divorce. I have learned some things on my own:

It feels better to refer to yourself as "single" than "divorced". Try it on.

Blocking exes and their families doesn't mean your block them from memory. It doesnt need to be a mean, heartless thing, and it may be helpful closure for both of you, especially if discussed beforehand. She's probably annoyed with the suggestions and reminders too.

Stop torturing yourself. Check your gmail through a third party application, like Apple's No suggestions, ever.

The time will come when you begin to date and get serious about someone, and you may find yourself removing all traces of your marriage under the cloak of night, when you really should be writing.

It feels better to remove the content of your marriage after the divorce has been final for at least a year, and you have begun seeing new people.

One in every two of your Facebook friends has been, is currently or will be divorced. With social media, divorce has become less a dirty secret and more of a cool kids club. Talk to more divorcees. Connect with a new circle. Try And look at all these lovely single ladies leaving comments. You're in good company.

Conor Neill said...

Me too. I understand your words all too well. Thank you for writing this. I don't have any better answers, and yes the helpful "recommended friends" etc is a constant reminder that I am sometimes ready for, but sometimes not quite prepared to deal with...

Jaimie said...

Thank you for this post. I have never been divorced, never been married either, but I've had my share of relationship hurdles and it's good to hear the internet isn't working out so well for other people either.

What a mess.

Meghan Ward said...

Thanks so much for sharing this, Nathan. I know it's painful, but it's always appreciated when you give your readers a glimpse into your personal life. And this is a good lesson for everyone out there using social media to be aware how difficult it is to erase the past from the Internet.

Khanada said...

I am so sorry you are going through all this, Nathan. This may only help a little, but I had no idea. Sometimes when you feel like the whole world knows something you'd rather keep quiet, it's kinda nice to hear about the people who were clueless!

I'm also sorry you had to write this blog post. I am rather private myself, and I know this post would have been incredibly difficult for me to write. But as you said - so much of your life had crept online, and now, trying to keep your privacy was only imprisoning you, preventing you from moving forward. I hope your post has helped to lift some of that weight off of you.

I'm sure you know this, but I'll say it anyway -- there is NO shame in divorce.

Best of luck to you, Nathan. Keep moving forward!

Claire Dawn said...

No where near the struggles of divorce, but when my last bf and I split, and I changed my facebook status, ppl that hadn't even been around during the relationship crawled out of the woodwork. Since then, I've kept my status hidden. Who should know, knows.

Pictures and friends and the like are more difficult to navigate. I'm okay, because I'm friends with all my ex bfs. (Like real friends, not just on FB.) But I imagine it would be really hard on a divorce.

Matthew MacNish said...

The best defense is just living well, being yourself, and telling the truth. Then you've got nothing to hide, and no one can hold it against you.

I think you've done the right thing, Nathan, but I'm sure it's still hard. We've got your back.

TL Conway said...

Nathan, thank you for writing this post, even though you were under ZERO obligation to do so. I hope others who need advice when navigating these waters can turn to this for help.

You are brave to be so honest. I wish better days in your future. Like, next week in particular... :)

Anonymous said...

I've read your blog for several years now. I rarely comment. Today's post was definitely brave and well thought out. But, what I always notice about you is your tact and diplomacy. It is a rare trait in this day and age.

nisha said...

Dude, check out all the support! We are so proud of you for your courage and honesty. Best of luck to you!

Btw, if you put a filter on gmail against all emails from your ex, then the "suggestions" box won't list her every time you compose a new message. Also, if you block her new profile on facebook, she won't come up anymore, either.

Yes, that is from personal experience. :-)


P. Kirby said...

Like many of the other posters here, I had no idea. I had a vague inkling that you were married, but it was .... vague.

Divorce is not a failure. Over the course of a marriage, people change and sometimes grow apart. It happens; it isn’t easy, but it bears no particular reflection on the people involved. I wish you the best of luck as you begin this new chapter in you life.

Jan O'Hara (Tartitude) said...

I'm sorry for all the hardship, but I think you've struck exactly the right note in this post. A little transparency now will hopefully mean you can take back some of your privacy in the long term.

Also, I "know" you as a person who doesn't quit. This announcement will in no way change my impression.

Steph Sinkhorn said...

I'm sorry you have to go through this, and go through it all so publicly. Thank you for putting yourself out there and reminding us all that our private lives aren't really so private anymore. It's a painful, but important, lesson.

suzy vitello said...

What a wonderful, heartfelt post, Nathan. And, increasingly relevant.

The social media in the face of divorce and blended families gets even more complex when your kids and your husband's kids are on Facebook as well.

My husband's ex got remarried over the weekend, and it's hard to know the etiquette. For instance -- do I "like" the myriad photos of her and new new hubby when they appear in my feed via my step-daughter?

Then there's my father, a randy multiply-divorced 70-yr-old who is always suggesting I "friend" his latest girlfriend, only to have his status turn back to "single" a couple of weeks later. Do I "unfriend" them then? My 12-year-old recently announced, on the wall of his facebook (yes, I know he's not legally supposed to have a facebook for another couple of months), that his grandpa is a "player," a notion my father found publicly brag-worthy.

Oy. Someone ought to write a book, right?

Hang in there.

Diane Estrella said...

So sorry that you had to go through this so publicly. I think you handled it well. Now you now what all those Hollywood-ites go through.... aaack. :O(

Anonymous said...

My younger brother went through this with his divorce, and he has three kids he fought to get 50% custody. It sucks. It's emotional. It leaves people with scars. But it gets better. Unfortunately, you're right about social media. I still keep seeing connections and photos to my ex-sister-in-law I'd rather not see. So I can only imagine how hard it is with an ex-wife.

You get hugs for being so adorable anyway. And I've watched how you keep it honest and real all the time and I've admired it and even mimmicked it.

Anonymous said...

What about when your wife is having an affair, you discover it and do everything you can do to cut off communications, your sister-in-law is playing middle-man in their (now long-distance) communications, she is friends with said d-bag on Facebook, and since you are FB friends with your sis-in-law, your wife's lover is suggested as a friend by Facebook? Ouch.

Toni Kenyon said...

I'm a firm believer that in this minute, I am the total sum of every one of my prior experiences. That's what, collectively, makes us fascinating and complex individuals.
Thank you for sharing your life with us all, Mr Bransford.
I can't believe I've been reading your blog since 2008! Where does the time go?

Lucy said...

Ugh. I hate that feature on Gmail. At least you didn't have any children with your ex! My husband has a 5 year old son from his first marriage. We've had quite a few email dialogues with his ex-wife and her fiance recently (custody battle! that's fun) and now when I write an email to my husband, his ex-wife and her fiance both show up as someone I might want to include on the email. YEAH F-ING RIGHT. Okay. When I get upset about it (and about his past in general), I remind myself that the present moment is the only moment that truly exists. It's almost as if dissolved marriages cease to exist at all...

Kristin Laughtin said...

First of all, I'm sorry you had to go through such a rough time.

It's kind of scary that there's really no such thing as anonymity anymore, unless you become a hermit. Even those of us who are very private about what we put online should be aware that there's no real hiding from someone determined to learn about us, even if we use a pseudonym.

That said, you don't owe anyone any explanations or details, of course. Hang in there.

Anonymous said...

Nathan, let me begin this by saying I'm so very sorry you have to go through this. As others have stated, you're young, talented, and a good-looking guy, so I don't shed too many tears for you (lol).

However, your post, for me, highlights some EXTREMELY disturbing changes in how we live our lives. But what's REALLY disturbing is how sheepily we accept it.

As outgoing as I can be when in the mood, I am no mood for my private life to be invaded, even by some non-thinking algorithm that some tech at FB or Twitter or wherever came up with.

To this day, I staunchly refuse to get Facebook; and I likewise shut down my YouTube account when Google bought them and instituted their Gestapo-like tracking tactics.

I'd like to remind all that privacy is a right, not some perk or privilege. A right. And like most rights, keeping them is as straightforward as demanding them. Digital invasiveness is actually NOT a given.

There's nothing wrong with contacting your friends and telling them you're not comfortable with certain pictures being online. There's nothing wrong with saying you don't wish to discuss certain business online. There's nothing wrong with closing an account because you refuse to link to your private profile.

And no, you can still conduct business without it. I follow your blog because you talk good sense and we share a common horrible taste in TV. I couldn't care less about you and your ex's honeymoon pictures or if you "friend" me.

Look, I'm not trying to rant. I'm just trying to say that it's more than a few 'paranoid nuts' who feel that this online thing is starting to overstep the bounds of etiquette and privacy. And I think it's time we remember it's okay to say "Enough."


The Unbreakable Child said...

Nathan, I'm sorry. But, I am happy that you are healing.


Mira said...

Nathan, I'm so sorry. I'm so sorry that you had such a painful loss.

And thank you for letting us know in such a courageous and poignant post.

I hope it doesn't feel intrusive to confirm that I realized it fairly early on, simply because you took your marital status off your biography here. Obviously, it was not appropriate to say anything, but I want you to know that I thought of you, and tried to send you silent support and good thoughts through the internet. We only know each other through this blog, but I care about you and my heart went out to you.

Please take care and be gentle with yourself.

Diana said...

I'm sorry that you've had to go through this, Nathan. A big hug for you. It will get better.

I've been divorced for 19 years before the internet went public. After reading your blog post, I am very glad that we didn't have the internet, blogs, and facebook back then. Still it was a bit of a shock when my ex posted on my wall a few months ago. A fairly innocuos posting, still a bit of a shock. I can imagine that it is much worse for you, and I do sincerely empathize with what you're going through.

Hang in there. You deserve to be happy.

Ms. Taken said...

You're in good company, Nathan. I'm a divorced stepmom who writes for StepMom Magazine. I couldn't begin to count the number of wonderful people I know who simply didn't match well with their ex. Anyhow, divorce is crazy hard. Sorry you're having to deal with it!

BTW-- Facebook really wants me to friend my exhusband's new wife. She sure looks sweet in that wedding photo. Also, thinner than me and like she's better at making him laugh....

Keisha Martin said...

Its funny, when I look at people's pictures I get an opinion of people and that's it, even if the chances are I may be really wrong, lol I remember saying to my friend an agent that can pull off an orange shirt must be a swell guy, you were one of the first agents I queried when I was a goof and queried early because I had this impression you were one of the greatest agents, and it was a honorary rejection lol I don't know you personally obviously but I felt I did when I checked out your blog, read your advice it was right on and helped boost me to take my writing serious like a second career without the money lol I also remembered thinking you should write a book about all the advice you give on your blog.

In closing I wish you all the best, and I think the way you handled things i.e online was quite classy so don't take it weird that a stranger is sending you a *hug* and congrats as well on your books can't wait to read the first to my students.

Michelle Moran said...

I'm sorry to hear this. I dealt with the same thing two years ago, and it also arrived very unexpectedly. But I agree with your post. Better to come out and say it. I never did, and that meant answering the same questions over and over again when our photos disappeared. If I could do it all over again, I would absolutely post about it. Not because I owe anyone this information, but because it would have saved a great deal of time and energy.

Danette Haworth said...

Oh my gosh, Nathan--I'm sorry to hear about your divorce. No one gets married expecting to separate, and I can't imagine how hard it is for you since you are well-known in the online writing community.

I've been reading and recommending your blog for years. You've always come off as friendly, knowledgeable, and fun. Your thread on Absolute Write was especially helpful.

I'm sorry that you even had to write a post like this, but as others have said, it was insightful (and sad).

As the first poster said, best wishes to you for the next chapter. It might be a while before you feel normal again, but you will get there--life still has great things for you.

Good luck and all my best.

Anne-Marie said...

Nathan, you are a real class act, and I want to wish you all the best.

My first marriage broke up in 1996, and I remember thinking we were both lucky not to have children together because we could now go out and start fresh lives without having to see each other the rest of our lives because of our kids. I guess I can add to that the good fortune of not having to deal with social media as well.

Sadly, all these algorithms being calculated by computers cannot account for the reality that being human is often messy and imprecise.

Thanks for helping a lot of people navigate their cyber minefields today with your brave post.


Rese said...

another reason why i'm a technophobe... *sigh* =T great post, tho - and best wishes to you in the future. onwards and upwards, as they say.

Pamala Knight said...

So sorry, Nathan. I think it's ironic and cruel that someone who's shown the rest of us how to be civil, polite and private with your online presence, now has to endure the sting caused by social media and nosy people.

Others have said it much better than I ever could, but you're a young man with your life ahead of you. Things will get better but until that time, I'll whisper to the stars and ask them to draw a little closer to you in the meantime.

Emilie said...

It's a scary virtual world and it takes a lot of guts to write a post like this, with your usual humor and thoughtfulness. Thanks for sharing, even if it was outside your usual comfort level. Good luck!

Susan Kaye Quinn said...

I'm sorry for all your pain with this. I can't imagine how difficult this has been, but you've handled it in the same classy style I've come to expect from you. Best wishes for finding the best in the life is still ahead of you. :)

February Grace said...

So sorry. Been there, and my ex seemed to 'win' my family in the divorce. All kinds of wrong. I hope things will be easier on you. Big hugs.


Angela Brown said...

Divorced. The relationship status that generates apologies from strangers. It opens the door to the human mind, the natural curiosity by some to want to know the "why" behind the split. Most are kind enough to use tact and leave well enough alone.

Having gone through my own divorce some years ago, I have some perspective on the emotional turmoil and other various factors involved. However, I hadn't been on much of the social media scene so very few even knew of the divorce and thought we were still together while he - the ex - was a bit more on the social media scene openly dating a young woman.

When I finally did get into FB, I laughed every time it recommended him and his current person-of-involvement as friends I should choose since we had so many friends in common. They never sent a request. Neither have I.

What I couldn't fathom is that there were people who knew of your relationship status changes before you publicly addressed them...that you were a "search engine high" personally gives me the willies. Also, personally, I never Google stalked you to know one way or another of your status. Your personal status is of no concern of mine, not when that is - ahem - your personal life.

I'm glad you've chosen to lay it out there, that you've mapped your course in a way that suits each step forward and hope that things continue in a positive light with Jacob Wonderbar and all his many adventures.

Naja Tau said...

I so admire the social maturity exhibited in this post... it's so good to hear someone else who has these concerns.

I just moved to a new city to start a new life, and I'm absolutely torn in every direction about what to do about the "parallel lives" we live the internet.

People will always need privacy and will always need to change (like with divorce). It's fundamental to human nature. One day, I think we'll figure something out to preserve this shrinking privacy problem we have. Maybe it will just involve a new set of ethics concerning what the socially mature options are for how we think of content on the internet.

Much love- thank you for writing.

Susie Calkins said...

I'm so sorry to hear about this; I didn't know about this painful part of your life (I don't seek out this kind of thing either). I'm so impressed, though, with how compassionate, kind and witty you've continued to be on your blog, despite your private turmoil. take care!

Jess said...

One of your best posts. Very informative and, believe me, I plan to pass the info to my daughter and stepson. Both hate living life out loud and in front of the world. Thanks!

Anonymous said...

I'm very sorry to hear about this, Nathan. I do believe that a lot of the people responsible for these social networks are too young to realize what they're wreaking on society. Unfortunately, when they finally do grow up and get it, it will be too late.

Colleen Walsh Fong said...

Well said. I believe we will all deal with social media regret as we play our lives out online.

Best wishes.

wendy said...

Nathan, thanks for sharing your feelings and heartbreak. We all appreciate it and feel for you. I'm a little gob-smacked as I followed your former partner's blog for a while and so much love existed there.

I think that people feel lonelier during Christmas and Easter, and being the latter, perhaps, memories and old feelings have been stirred up. I hope this blog has been cathartic for you.

Hope Clark said...

So sorry to hear about this rocky patch in your life, Nathan, but I get it as do at least half the people in your bloggosphere. Here's best wishes for balancing your new life. Been there, sweetheart. You'll do fine. Thanks for this wonderful view of social media and divorce, though. Very very good info to make one think.

Hope Clark

Darlene Underdahl said...

It's extemely painful even if it has to happen... good luck.

readingkidsbooks said...

Thanks for what must have been a difficult post. Hoping that the toughest part is over and that you can get on with a happier private life to compliment the healthy, helpful, and happy professional side that so many of us have appreciated you sharing.

Jennifer Kay said...

Very brave and honest post. I'm also recently divorced and I've experienced most of the situations you mentioned. Lots of head nodding and laughing as I read. Though I'm not published yet so I can't say my name is showing up on any top google lists with or without the word divorced attached. . . . yet.

Jaden Terrell said...

Nathan, I've followed your blog for years and continue to read it even though I now have a wonderful agent and publisher. It's this sort of honesty and grace that keeps your followers so loyal.

I'm sorry you're going through this. I can't make it all better, but send warm wishes your way anyway.

I've had some uncomfortable moments with FB of a different sort. Occasionally, I get suggestions to buy a virtual beer for or say hi to a friend who has passed away. It's disconcerting, because it feels somehow wrong to unfriend them but a little odd to get messages about them as if they were still around. I usually do go and post a "missing you" message or something of the sort.

Annalisa said...

So sorry to hear this. I love reading your blog and had no idea all the heartache you've been going through the past year while you've been so generous and helpful with us. You don't owe us anything, but thanks for letting us know.

Chase March said...

I can identify with the sentiment here. I try to keep the details of my family life off of the Internet. In fact, I haven't even posted a photo of myself online to further create a sense of distance between my real life and my online life.

I really appreciate that you were able to share this story with us.

All the best!

Laurel said...

Hugs to you. And your ex. Just that, hugs. Lots of them.

erica and christy said...

Some people try to figure out everyone else's lives. Those people suck.

Elyssa Papa said...

Nathan, I'm so sorry--as a private person myself, I know how hard it can be to reveal this and open up. Any sort of break up/divorce is hard enough but with all the social media involved, it makes it even more difficult to have a clean break of things. I hope things will only improve for you.

Neurotic Workaholic said...

I'm sorry that you've been going through a difficult time, and I'm also sorry that a few people violated your privacy by including links to your guest registry. Maybe they had good intentions, but still. I never joined Facebook, partly because it pressures people to connect and reconnect with a bunch of people. That can be a good thing, but there are a few people that I don't have any interest in reconnecting with, and I don't want to be pressured to "friend" them. Connecting with people through blogging is enough for me.
It is tough to protect our privacy in the digital age. I've read articles about how people have to be very careful about what they put on their Facebook pages, because now some employers are demanding their passwords.

Sara | Stinkerpants said...

I really appreciate this post, which was sent to me by a friend of mine. I'm also an illustrator in SF, also recently divorced. I seriously have no idea how to navigate the Internet now - I've gone from publicly posting tons of personal stuff ("personal" is part of my brand) to not wanting to share anything. I had to laugh at your issues with gmail and Facebook - I'm cursing them daily too. ;) Anyway, thanks for unofficially welcoming me to the land of e-divorces!

Anonymous said...

Omg... bear hug!

brianw said...

Hey Nathan,

I just wanted to say that I think you're a brave man. Sometimes life is hard, but you continue to do amazing things with this blog and I'm so excited for the next 'Jacob' book (and the one after that). Keep your head up. It's been a tough last 12 months in my life as well, but I believe our best days are ahead of us.

Maybe next time we meet for coffee in SF we'll be competing for the number 1 spot on the New York Times Bestseller list:)

sands said...

The "coming out" is a good decision. It would be easier to face this from now on.. (hmm... hopefully)

[Also, please make the word verification a bit simpler. I am a real human and had to try a few times.. Now, more than the original comment, I want to request you to make the commenting part not so extremely difficult.]

Anonymous said...

Thanks for this post. I have never gotten heavily involved in social media, and you do a wonderful job of articulating why. I'm not too concerned about it for myself, but as an older (grew up pre-internet) parent of a young child I worry about a generation of kids growing up with internet bullying, and with the prospect of them not having the luxury of being able to let the stupid things they did when they were young fade away into oblivion like we did. I'm teaching my child to use a computer because I have no choice - computer's are becoming the foundation of our world. But I'm going to ban social media use for my child at least as long as she is living at home with me. The past ten years or so it's struck me as being a technologically pretty scary world out there, and I'm sorry to hear that you've been having those difficulties. For what it's worth, I've been following your blog for awhile, and I've always really admired your ability to keep it professional, rather than personal. Your thoughtful (and probably painful to write) post really emphasizes how one's own efforts in this area just aren't enough. Good luck to you.

Shannon said...

Thanks for this post. I have never gotten heavily involved in social media, and you do a wonderful job of articulating why. I'm not too concerned about it for myself, but as an older (grew up pre-internet) parent of a young child I worry about a generation of kids growing up with internet bullying, and with the prospect of them not having the luxury of being able to let the stupid things they did when they were young fade away into oblivion like we did. I'm teaching my child to use a computer because I have no choice - computer's are becoming the foundation of our world. But I'm going to ban social media use for my child at least as long as she is living at home with me. The past ten years or so it's struck me as being a technologically pretty scary world out there, and I'm sorry to hear that you've been having those difficulties. For what it's worth, I've been following your blog for awhile, and I've always really admired your ability to keep it professional, rather than personal. Your thoughtful (and probably painful to write) post really emphasizes how one's own efforts in this area just aren't enough. Good luck to you.

Guilie said...

Yep, it's rough, and it's an aspect of social media few people ever consider. I'm sorry, Nathan, but I appreciate you sharing your experience and turning it into something that might benefit others. It's hard to live in the public eye, but think about why you're there: you influence others, you make us all better, you lead in the striving for the good things we're looking for. People care about you. We do.

Terin Tashi Miller said...

Dear Former Agent Man: this is perhaps the boldest, bravest, most honest and out there post I think I have ever read, from anyone, but particularly you whose views and descriptions we've come to expect.

I'm very sorry I didn't know a year ago you were divorcing, as, having been through it myself when I was roughly beginning a career--in journalism, while trying to begin one in fiction writing--I feel regretful and neglectful I wasn't able to offer you any advice.

Of course, the whole reason people try to keep such things OUT of social media, and others' conversations, is because as I recall when you're going through it you don't really WANT anyone else's advice, or story, or bitterness or regrets.

It is a shame (to me) that so much of so many peoples' private lives is now the grist for social media. I withdrew from Facebook for Lent, partly because I had come to realize that so much time was being spent by myself and others merely feeling obligated to let others know the most mundane, inane, and uninteresting aspects of their daily lives.

So. Congratulations on coming out of it well enough a year on to write this unabashedly honest post.
The pain of the break has obviously made you stronger.

And tomorrow, let's talk again about writing. Unless you'd rather talk about the Corona Portable typewriters I'm seeing all over Ebay again...

MaryAnn Pope said...

I'm sorry about your divorce. It really sucks that these things can't remain private.

Vera Soroka said...

Sorry to hear about what all you went through. I hope it's getting better now. I wish you all the best.
This is why after reading what you went through that I don't have much to do with the social media scene. It's just too invasive and hard to keep your personal life out of it.

Elaine AM Smith said...

Sad times.
Why should curiosity kill the cat when it can scan it - scrutinise it inside and out - for any kind of sore to pick.

Anne R. Allen said...

So sorry you had to go through this, Nathan--all while keeping up the happy face and promoting your wonderfully positive books and continuing to inspire new writers. I've always said you were one of the classiest acts in this business. You've proved it.

Thank you so much for talking about this extremely negative aspect of social media. Younger people don't seem to worry as much about the loss of privacy in the 21st century world, but it's a major deal and this proves it.

Thanks for a powerful and important post.

Mina Burrows said...

I am sorry that you've had to deal with this. Life is hard as it is without constant reminders of everything you did i.e. the good, the bad and the "Oh, did I say/do that?" The internet is like that annoying friend that you have a love/hate relationship with. You know the one that you can't live without.

I think you're doing all you can do under the circumstances. Keep moving forward!

Salima said...

I'm so sorry to hear about what you're going through. Thank you for having the courage to open up...I know it wasn't easy. But I think it's going to help a lot of people figure out how to navigate these situations and take whatever precautions make sense to them. You're totally right in that social media doesn't allow for that protective psychological "bubble" that we need to heal from breakups....and this post makes me really glad that those exes I don't want to remember at all were pre-Facebook for me.

Again, thanks for your candid post.

Marta said...

Nathan, I'm sorry you both went through this, and especially that you had to deal with so much at one time. The new book and the new job on top of a divorce? Too many stressful changes simultaneously. You must be made of strong stuff.

I only knew you were married because of your Heifer charity drive, which I'm now guessing you continued on your own last year. Bravo.

The social media aspects of your post may kick off a campaign against some of the assumptions made by sites like Facebook.

To give a couple examples, one is the assumption that people will want to respond to any post with a "Like"--How is that appropriate when someone's posted terrible news? Should I "Like" your post about this blog entry? And leaving a supportive comment instead can be awkward, particularly when the social relationship is not personally close.

The other assumption is that everyone we know, or who knows someone we know, can only be a potential friend. This can be distressing when there are painful associations, like yours and several others mentioned in comments above. Whenever Facebook suggests I invite my father to various pages, it gives me a pang, because he passed away last year. But it would pain me more to "unfriend" him.

Again, you seem to lead the way in terms of how we view and deal with social media and dissemination of information.

Belated wishes for the best this year.

Anonymous said...


ddelano said...

Your blog has been a place where I have felt unconditionally supported in my writing life. I would bet for many of us here you have really given us so much both professionally and personally through your insights. Please know that you have our unconditional support as well - good luck as you move through this new chapter in your life!

emaginette said...

There is no running away. That is what this blog is about. So, stand tall, take it and let it hurt.

It won't hurt forever.

Eventually you won't care anymore. Then let it go.

Divorce sucks. So does being married to the wrong person. Count your lucky stars you're out.

Kristi Helvig said...

I had no idea, and I'm so sorry to hear it. I admire your courage and honesty, and know you'll come through this stronger than ever. The upside of social media is looking at the number of comments you have on this post--you have tremendous support and love from others in the writing community, and you deserve all the best! :)

Terri Lynn Coop said...

So sorry. I had a mini-version of your experience. My ex and I ran a company with a strong online presence. My husband was a beloved artist and I did all the grunt work behind the scenes. In public we were all unicorns and puppies. In private our marriage was a cage match.

I already had an exit strategy when an accident left him bed-ridden for life. The emotional and financial stresses finished off an already fractured relationship. Because of his medical condition, I had to assume control of the company and remake it in my image while still paying homage to his legacy.

I did the same thing you did. Inconspicuously deleted statuses and started slowly changing "our" to "my" when talking to customers. I'm not sure half even know the truth. But I soldier on,as a single woman in a collecting genre dominated by men and reinvent myself I go along.

It was hard enough to do with my limited online persona. You are a rockstar in this arena and your fans do want to know what you had for breakfast.

I'm a lurker here who enters the occasional contest and always enjoys the content. I didn't know until this post popped up in my FB feed. Take care. Those of us in the dark balconies are cheering for you.


Melanie Hooyenga said...

I'm sorry you've had to go through this. I haven't read blogs recently and actually had no idea you'd gotten divorced. Mine's been final about a year and a half and while I kept the particulars quiet, I also did a blog post to keep the rumors from swirling.

I'm still FB friends with my ex, but he's rarely on so it's not much of an issue.

Good luck to you.

cobwebs said...

Nathan, this too shall pass. Heartfelt hugs, my dear.

maine character said...

Thanks for the cautionary tale.

I wish you no more bizarre bittersweet reminders, but an open path into better days.

Richard Mabry said...

Nathan, So very sorry for the situation that brought about this post, but happy that you were so open and honest in sharing how it's affected you. Thanks, and best wishes for a better day tomorrow, and the next, and the one after that.

J.C. Martin said...

Why is it I subscribe to receive blog updates but didn't receive this in my inbox? Sorry to hear about your rough patch. It's true that with the Internet, nothing is private these days. Might as well be honest and open about it. Not that your relationship status will make anyone think less of you as a person. If they do, then they are shallow, narrow-minded people.

Laurie said...

This is the most honest and heartfelt thing I have read in a long time. So well done, Nathan. As always, you are really tapped into this new internet age, and the pros and cons of our obsession with technology.

Ishta Mercurio said...

Hi Nathan,

Hang in there. I can't speak about divorce from personal experience except as the child of divorced parents (whose divorce was messy, drawn-out, and involved many legal battles over custody and child support), and all I can say is that eventually, it does get better. My mother hated my father for years, and my father felt ripped apart for years, but now they're both able to speak of each other with genuine respect, even though some of the hurt and regret still remain.

Take it one day at a time. This too shall pass. There is a future for you in which you will look back on this as something that made you stronger in some way. And thank you for telling us.

Hallie Sawyer said...

Ugh, I can only imagine what you are going through in private and then having to try to wade through it delicately on the internet. I'm sorry that you have to go through this.

But I did want you to know that I picked up your first book at the library for my son and he finished it. You don't know how monumental this is. This is a Diary of a Wimpy Kid kind of reader. Just enough to get by.

He LOVED your book. He took it everywhere with him and he thinks you are very funny. So thank you! Thank you, thank you! YOU are a wonderful writer. Having your private life thrust in the public eye unwittingly could be a huge distraction but I hope you look at writing more books as a great coping mechanism!

So what were you saying about a divorce, or something? :)

Nora Lester Murad in Palestine said...

A beautifully human post. Sharing it with us is a gift on many levels.

Anonymous said...

Hi Nathan,

Very sorry to hear this.

One thing that makes this even harder is...there's no such thing as scorched earth when it comes to the internet.

I mean, I suppose if you're VERY clever you can insert robots.txt files in your blogs and then it will never be cached, but otherwise it is quite possible to be able to find someone's blog.

One blogger I followed by adding her blog to my Google reader deleted all six years of entries, but I still have half of those in my reader.

At the time of reading your blog entry, I had no idea who your wife was. A bit of Googling, some playing about with, and maybe ten minutes later I am now reading her back entries at the erased blog.

And I am far from being any kind of internet expert.

My basic, fundamental rule is, never put anything on the internet that you don't want your boss or your mother to read. But even that doesn't solve all the problems.

Unknown said...

I went through a divorce many years ago and still remember the acutely painful feelings that lingered for years. Eventually, the strangest part of it seemed to be that two good and sincere people who had planned to spend their lives together ended up never speaking or seeing each other again.

Now, I have no idea where she is or what she is doing. But, as I age and the importance of relationships becomes clearer, I still find that, though I have no desire to rekindle it, the aspect of complete and utter separation is oddly unnatural.

Eventually, you'll get over the hurt - hopefully, you'll stay in touch.

Thanks for sharing this most human and touching bit of personal history - and for all that you do for us, the writing community.

Anonymous said...

This is the first time I have ever posted on a blog. The funny thing is, that whilst your email sat in my inbox unread,(saved for savouring), I had the urge to write to you for the very first time. Not because I knew you were experiencing the transformation that is divorce, but because I wanted to thank you. I wanted to thank you for being so consistently there. Your writing advice convinced me to 'DO IT' and your continued advice and opinions convinced me on how and where to 'fix it up'. I was also going through a lonely time (though still in a relationship), but the urge to write, and the writing community, headed by your noble self was inspiration and community with a capital 'I' and "C'. So, as you can see, I am a burgeoning writer, with a smile on my face and I just wanted to say thanks, because what you do, in just being you, has really help more people than you will ever know! Besos y brazos muy fuerte! Cate from Australia.

Anonymous said...

You know, a few weeks ago, you had a post about the trials of getting published. I commented anonymously, saying that I was going through an incredibly hard time, but the plus side was, it certainly had put getting published in perspective.

You very kindly commented after me, saying you hoped things would turn out okay for me. That comment meant more than you know.

I am writing all this now because my hard times are of the marital variety. I am not going through a divorce - yet - and hopefully I won't. But it's a possibility, and I have found this to be the hardest time in my life. As a side note, my life not so much butterflies and rainbows to begin with.

In any case, I wanted to thank you for your kind comment some time ago, and I wanted to extend the same to you. I think there are few things as agonizing as divorce. Living such a thing publicly would be all the more painful. You have my sympathy, Nathan, as well as my best wishes.

Laurence King said...

So sorry to hear about your divorce, Nathan! It is never an easy thing to go through and I can't imagine what it must be like when pieces of your life get scattered on the Internet for the whole world to see...It is incredibly brave of you to share this with us! Best wishes to you.

Dana Seilhan said...

When I was a kid, particularly when I was a teenager going through all that awkwardness, I HATED having my picture taken. I mean, *despised* it. It was much more of a relief than it should have been when my high-school senior portrait turned out OK. I have a big nose and a crooked smile and missing teeth from my orthodontics days and hair that would put Harry Potter's to shame in how little it wants to behave for me and... no. Just no.

And then one day I realized that everyone around me was seeing the very same face in real life that I dreaded seeing in photographs. And I got over it. I mean, I've got some really butt-ugly pictures of myself and I'd put them on the Internet because they don't bother me at all.

I think a lot of this embarrassment and shame over major life stuff comes from feeling as if we're the only ones who go through said major life stuff. Or maybe we think we're supposed to be above and beyond it--that we made all the right choices, so why is reality still taking a dump on us? It can be tough to handle. Shame is a powerful emotion.

But when you realize that everyone else goes through the bad stuff too, even folks who seem much less than deserving of bad stuff? And when you realize that most people are too wrapped up in themselves to care what you're doing? It gets better then. Much better.

Anonymous said...

I never really know what's appropriate to say in this kind of situation. I want to offer sympathies and condolences, because it's such a loss.

Thank you for sharing your experience. Wishing you well.

Cynthia said...

I'm very sorry to hear about what you had gone through in the last year. I wish only good things for you as you move forward.

Anonymous said...

While I'm sure this post wasn't written for me, I just got out of a relationship that lasted eight years. Now this post feels like aloe vera on fresh sunburns.

Thank you, thank you, thank you, from the bottom of my heart.

TeresaR said...

My heartfelt sympathies to you on having your private life splattered across the internet like some road-kill. Honestly, you're not paid enough as an author to have the kind of voyeur-laden celebrity status foisted on you. I wish you the best in trying to get on with your life and getting over the pain of the divorce.

Optional Delusion said...

Very thought provoking. Thanks for sharing.

Amy Cochran said...

Break ups are never easy. Occasionally, they're mutual. Sometimes they're not, but they always hurt.

However, I'm not convinced hiding is the way to go, but I understand the need to lessen the emotional burden.

And yes, you can lessen the pain in the modern era. On Facebook, you can 'unfriend' people, hide posts and steer clear of mutual friends. Or better yet, set up a fan's page for yourself. Having a personal page and a fan's page is a perfect way to keep your personal life and your professional life separate. I strongly recommend this. On Gmail, you can delete offending contacts so they don't pop up.

However, the question is do you really want to do this. Those memories sting now, but in time they might again prove to be sweet, if not a bit bitter.

Hang in there.

Sharon Lynn Fisher said...

This is the first post I've seen on this topic (how social media and your home computer join forces to torture you after a painful loss). Yay you for having the courage to share this, as well as the followup about writing during difficult periods of your life (which I wish I'd read three months ago!).

Anonymous said...

you were smart to realize that changing your status would make it "public domain". i am recently separated and my ex decided to spitefully change his status to "separated" (we separated the year before for 8 months yet neither of us changed our statuses). it was like a dagger in the heart when i saw it, so in response i immaturely changed mine and it opened up the flood gates. i did not realize that it would post the change in everyone's feed nor the need for outside parties to make comments and jabs on such a painful, private matter.

i am now very careful what i do on fb and opt for "never mind" over "go ahead".

i commend you for your courage to post this. it's information i wish i had sooner.

Tiffany N. York said...

I think the most effective posts and articles combine facts with personal experience. When you recount something from your personal life, it resonates more with the reader. At least it does with me. It makes you seem more human.

I rue the day Facebook was created. As I hit upon my son's elementary school principal's page, there she was embracing my boyfriend. They're now married. I know this thanks to FB (and the obsessive-compulsive need to check her page every now and then).

Oh, yes. Social media's a bitch.

Tara needs a divorce said...

@ Sarah Singer - words are so true. I kept it secret from my friends for quite awhile that we had been talking about a divorce but when I finally cracked I was amazed at how kind and supportive every one was. It was only then that I started to realize that my life wasn't over and that this was not only the end of a part of my life but also the beginning of something new! With new possibilities!

Anonymous said...

You're not fooling anybody. You are as queer as a three dollar bill.

AJM Mousseau said...

It's bad enough to deal with the D let alone having to relive it over and over and have an entire world social media content about that part of your life.I hope you felt some semblance of closure participating in the BBC report.
What's more is you are also a celebrity. I think on poor J. Aniston and wonder when the media will ever get over the obsession.

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Anonymous said...

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