Finally Getting Off Shared Streaming Accounts Post-Breakup Is the Ultimate Form of Modern Closure

Photo: Getty Images/martin-dm
It finally happened. I logged into "my" Hulu account, (it's technically my ex's account, but I had a profile of my own on it), only to find that the name on my profile had been changed to "Lee2." My issues with the finding are two-fold: 1. Lack of originality for the profile name (his name is Lee), and 2. the unavoidable realization of Lee's obvious efforts to hide from someone that I, his ex, am still using his Hulu account. (It did not occur to me at the time to be grateful that he didn't unceremoniously kick me off by doing something so heartless as change the password, but rest assured, I've since noted that reality, which only adds another layer of curiosity to the other two issues, TBH.)

So naturally, I lightly digitally stalked him to do a bit of recon regarding his clear new life updates. And right there, clear as day, I found his Facebook status: In. A. Relationship. I realized then that I was clinging to a subconscious (and highly irrational) hope that the Hulu name change came about as a result of him watching TV with his new girlfriend, and when they pulled up Hulu, my name was right there in her face. Why I still wanted this semblance of an upper hand despite having no relationship to speak of, I couldn't tell you. But all signs pointed to me having unresolved feelings for my ex—and without my Hulu rude awakening, I don't know when I would have ultimately confronted the notion.

Shared accounts on streaming services like Hulu, Netflix, Spotify, and the like have grown to become a symbol of commitment in today's world—like the digital version of having a drawer at your partner's apartment. But if you break up, the etiquette regarding who gets what (and, in this case, whether you should remain on a shared account you grew accustomed to in the relationship yet don't pay for) can feel tricky, but one pro says the best answer is actually super-straightforward. "I recommend that when you do break up, you don't share accounts because it can muddy the waters," says etiquette expert Jacqueline Whitmore.

Shared accounts on streaming services like Hulu, Netflix, Spotify, have grown to become a symbol of commitment in today's world—like the digital version of having a drawer at your partner's apartment.

And I can now attest that Whitmore is on the money in her advice. In my case, the shared Hulu account felt trivial in comparison to all the other factors relevant to the emotional fallout when we first broke up. But it ended up functioning as a low-key means of staying connected, serving the subliminal reminder of Lee whenever I logged on and saw his name pop up. Different people have different thresholds for what they can deal with, and mine, I learned, was knowing he had moved on. So,  glass of wine in hand, I decided to make my own statement and divide up the remaining accounts we still shared. So that he could see exactly how much I didn't care. Again, as trivial as shared accounts may seem, extricating yourself from them makes a statement. Kind of like blocking an ex on Instagram.

Unfortunately, things did not go as planned; what ended up happening was not me communicating my coolheaded lack of care. Rather, after several wine-fueled emails to customer service, I learned I could disconnect my Kindle from my ex's account, but would not be able transfer my books to link with my personal Amazon account. So I could either lose access to and ownership of dozens books I love and love to reread, or stay on the account until he kicked me off. Spotify's customer service was not any more helpful. A representative there told me that in order to remove my email from our family plan, the account owner—Lee—needed to do it. I thought about reaching out for a moment but quickly remembered that we hadn't communicated since a falling out several weeks ago (and I sure wasn't willing to break the ice to ask him to remove me from his Spotify account). But then I had another thought—and a much worse one at that: Because my ex is the account holder, he can see all the depressing, sad music I had been listening to on repeat, including a playlist that literally has the word "heartbreak" in the title.

Etiquette-wise, Whitmore says that a good plan of action when removing a former beau off an account is to give them a heads up about it ("otherwise it can cause a rift"), and to give reasonable notice so they can make alternate arrangements. She recommends saying something like, "I think it's better that we don't share accounts anymore. To be fair, I'm going to leave it active for 60 days so you can decide whether you want to open another account."

As for my Spotify account? Whitmore suggests I contact my ex via text or email, despite how desperately I'd prefer not to,  and say something along the lines of, "Thank you for paying for Spotify. I no longer need it, so could you please do me a favor and remove my email from the account?" The liberating feeling of having all ties severed will be worth enduring the cringeworthy feeling of having to reach out first, she says.

All of that makes sense, and I'm ready to cut the Hulu ties…but I'm still not quite ready to let go of all my Kindle books.

Ever wonder why having a crush on someone is both the best feeling and the worst? We break it down here. Also, not to be a downer, but are soul mates even real? 

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