Digital Possessions After a Romantic Break Up

Daniel Herron (Lead / Corresponding author), Wendy Moncur, Elise van den Hoven

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contribution

6 Citations (Scopus)
251 Downloads (Pure)


With technology becoming more pervasive in everyday life, it is common for individuals to use digital media to support the enactment and maintenance of romantic relationships. Partners in a relationship may create digital possessions frequently. However, after a relationship ends, individuals typically seek to disconnect from their ex-partner. This becomes difficult due to the partners’ interwoven digital presence in the collection of digital possessions. In this paper, we report on a qualitative study exploring individuals’ experiences of relationship break up in a digital context, and discuss their attitudes towards digital possessions from those relationships. Five main themes emerged from our results: digital possessions that sustain relationships, comparing before and after, tainted digital possessions, digital possessions and invasions of privacy, and involved and emotional reminiscing. Opportunities for design were identified in managing attitudes towards digital possessions, disconnecting and reconnecting, and encouraging awareness of digital possessions.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationNordiCHI '16
Subtitle of host publicationProceedings of the 9th Nordic Conference on Human-Computer Interaction
Place of PublicationNew York
PublisherAssociation for Computing Machinery
Number of pages11
ISBN (Electronic)9781450347631
Publication statusPublished - 23 Oct 2016
EventNordiCHI 2016: Game-Changing Design - Gothenburg, Sweden
Duration: 23 Oct 201627 Oct 2016


ConferenceNordiCHI 2016
Internet address


  • Relationship break up
  • separation
  • divorce
  • HCI
  • life transitions
  • digital
  • memory
  • curation
  • media
  • identity

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