Still friends with your ex on social networks?
“There are a lot of pros and cons about social media; it’s just how you choose to handle it and how you have to be prepared for the negatives as well.” – Aubrey Peeples
Sometimes, when it’s over – that means it’s really over! Talking to your ex-partner on social media and keeping up with their lives may seem like a good idea, but that’s not always the case. If things ended amicably, you might be tempted to just continue on the way things were. And if they didn’t, then you may be tempted to keep tabs on what they’re doing now.
Relationship counselor and Gestalt therapist Clinton Power says, “Social media usage is a double-edged sword. While it may strengthen social connections between friends and deepen a romantic relationship through continued interaction despite physical distance, constant social media use makes depression worse and harms your overall well-being.”
With social media being able to track our every move, talking to your ex or continuing to follow their pages seems like the rational thing to do. But science is here to explain why this is a bad idea, and why we need to keep ourselves out of our ex’s social lives.
Here Are 4 Reasons Why You Should Avoid Your Ex On Social Media (According to Psychologists)
1. False hopes
People share all kinds of things on social media, but for the most part, people tend to only share the good things. This means you’re getting a limited view of your ex – all of the good parts. You may find yourself starting to feel false hope that things have changed and that they’re now a viable partner for you, even if they weren’t before.
Studies have shown that people who continue to stalk or keep tabs on their ex partners through social media like Facebook are more likely to reach out and try to continue being with them intimately. This can lead to false hope that things are going to work out between the two of you, even if the majority of the relationship was fraught with issues.
Psychologist and author Jill Weber, Ph.D. says, “If your relationship has ended, then it’s over: What you had with your ex no longer exists. Continuing the connection means that a part of you is still hoping that in some alternate universe there is a chance you and your ex can be together and be happy. As a result, you live off moments of closeness.”
Keeping distant from your ex partner’s social media can remind you of the whole of the relationship, not just the good parts.
2. Social media stalking can lead to real stalking
Most people think that checking up on their ex’s social media isn’t a big deal, and that it doesn’t do anyone any harm. What they know can’t hurt them, right? That might be true, if science didn’t confirm that people who social media stalk often bring that behavior into the real world. Instead of just browsing their profiles, they end up “accidentally” running into them because they know where they’re going that day, or bringing them gifts to try and get back together.
“… we understand what it’s like to be a celebrity and be stalked but I would argue that we are now all public figures, we all have a social media profile and we’re all at risk from individuals who may become fixated on what we represent. So, I do think we’ve got a long way to go in terms of the law and our own self-management when it comes to how we fixate on others. Stalking is defined as a fixation on others, if we put too much energy into other people online we are at risk of developing very difficult behaviours,” says Dr. Emma Short, an expert in Cyber Stalking and Harassment
This can often be read as quite threatening behavior on behalf of the ex-partner. It may seem harmless at first, but that behavior is threatening and inappropriate. This behavior can cause a lot of anxiety in the person on the other end of the stalking, and if it escalates, it can even cause problems for you.
3. Long periods of pining after your ex
There’s all kinds of “equations” that will try to tell you how long it takes you to get over ex-partner. But as well all know, getting over something like a break-up can take a long time, or it can take no time at all. It really depends on how long you were together and how deep you were in the relationship, along with other factors that can determine how long you’re going to be pining over your ex. But the real danger of stalking your ex is that it can take longer for you to get over them.
Psychologist Yvonne Thomas, Ph.D. says, “From a mental health perspective, you shouldn’t keep tabs on your ex via social media because you can’t have a genuine, clean break and really move forward while you’re still staying in your ex’s life, even if it is remotely through social media… social stalking is like taking the scab off of the wound that’s starting to heal from the breakup and then having to start the healing process all over again.”
By being able to see all of their social media, and continuing to check up on them, it can make it harder for you to start healing from that break up. Both you and your ex deserve to be able to move onward from the relationship, and science has shown that people who regularly stalk their ex’s social media won’t get over it as quickly.
4. Increases depression
In the end, stalking your ex in social media … just doesn’t feel good! Science has shown that people who tend to stalk their exes on social media are also the same people who have a greater risk of depression. Constantly reminding yourself of a relationship that ended is a great way to cause yourself unneeded anguish.
“Both psychiatrists and psychologists report that there is a close relationship between social media and depression since it is becoming a major means of communication. The addiction leads to social withdrawal, as users are preoccupied with spending their time on self-entertainment and defusing their daily activities,” says clinical psychologist Dr. Dolly Habbal.
Any psychologist will point out that there’s no need for you to keep tabs on your ex, and that doing so is only likely to increase your own anxiety and depression. It can even make it harder for you to move on to a new relationship.
Social media stalking isn’t fun for anyone involved. For the person doing the stalking, it can cause problems in moving forward from the break up, and can make depression worse. For the ex, it can be uncomfortable and even threatening. Allowing yourself to let go of your ex and unfollow them from social media will allow for things to move forward naturally, and allow you both to heal.