You know it’s terrible for you. You know you should stop doing it, yet somehow, you find yourself going back to that search tab on Facebook, and typing in his name. What utterly unsurprising exhibit will you find this time?
Ah, stalking exes on social media. We’ve all done it. Heck, I’ve even had my share of keeping tabs on some old friends I’ve cut ties with. But in terms of toxicity and harmful behavior, social media stalking that guy you dated for six months or the friend you’ve had a falling-out with comes nowhere near the ex-husband, the father of your child. Looking back, I can see precisely how my casual tendency to hop on over to my ex’s Instagram had spiraled into a dangerous habit that brought out the worst in me.
It doesn’t matter whether you’re freshly divorced or it’s been a while. The truth remains that social media surveillance only impedes the natural process that unravels after a serious relationship has failed. That’s a process of healing, coming to terms with what happened, and becoming whole again.
So what do you do when you know it’s not right, but still can’t help yourself?
Stalking Your Ex On Facebook? Here’s How to Stop
Get to know your habit
How often do you stalk your ex on social?
Which feelings does this practice usually evoke?
Pay attention and try to note in which situations you most often search his profile. You’ll notice you hardly ever do it when you’re busy, focused on your wellbeing, or generally content. No, we’ll stalk our exes on social when we’re mind-numbingly bored, feeling petty, or in a self-destructive state where we’re intent on making our anguish worse.
What does that tell you? Yup, nothing good can ever come out of this.
Lastly, whenever the idea of checking out their profile pops up, ask yourself: “What am I looking for?”
The answer to this is seemingly obvious, yet completely vague: well, you “just want to see what he’s up to”. But here’s the thing: you won’t stop until you find something to despise, or something that makes you feel hurt and jealous, or something that proves you’re better off without them.
But this is social media, not real life. And trust me, you don’t need a curated digital presence to prove to you that you’re better off without him. Whether it was you who filed for divorce or him, that decision has been made, and I hardly doubt Facebook/Instagram/Twitter had anything to do with it. Move on and stop looking for confirmation when you have it already.
The thing with this habit of social media surveillance is that you won’t discover anything that you don’t know, think, or feel already. It’s about finding ways to confirm your biases, and that’s exactly what you will do every time. You’ll prove to yourself that you were right. But it won’t feel as good as it should. Am I right?
The reason it won’t feel good is largely owed to that pesky voice that inevitably accompanies all stalking sessions. “Okay, he is still pathetic, but what the hell am I doing with my life, sitting here and scrolling through his profile.”
The best way to cure harmful social media habits is by staying busy and focused on other things. Spend quality time with your kids, go for drinks with friends, find a new hobby. Maybe you want to finally take up hiking and make a new family tradition of enjoying the outdoors with your kids. Whatever activity you’re going for, be mindful and present. You’ll have plenty of tangible proof in your life that you are, indeed, better off without him.
Another good idea is to choose a replacement habit for every time you feel the itch to check on his profile. For example, that could be going for a walk, doing a short meditation exercise, or working on an art project (you can even get your kids on board). And don’t leave this to chance. Plan for this scenario and make sure you have an idea for what you’ll do instead of diving into his social media accounts.
Now, we’ll talk about blocking him from your social media in a moment, but even with those brakes in place, you’ll likely still find yourself craving a social media toxicity hit, at least in the beginning. Like with all bad habits and addictions, a good habit that substitutes the initial behavior will help redirect your focus and ultimately break the cycle.
Go cold turkey
Just. Block. Him.
This is the obvious solution and the one that’s most widely recommended. And if you’re guilty of “hiding” his posts, only to come back and actively search his profile, this is definitely the “parental control” you need to set for yourself.
By blocking his profiles, his online presence becomes invisible to you and vice-versa, which, in all honesty, is really what you need at this stage. Further down the line, maybe a time will come when you’ll be okay with seeing him pop up on your feed, and you really won’t care at all; but if everything is still fresh and you’re struggling with trying not to stalk him, that time has clearly not come yet. So use that block button to avoid temptation and give yourself the much-needed space.
The fact that he won’t be able to see you is equally important, as you won’t be tempted to curate your social media presence to show him that you’re better off. You don’t want to be posting stuff just to get a reaction from him. Trust me; it’s not healthy for you. And remember: his close friends and family come with the package, too. If there’s anyone close to him whose posts will remind you of him and rub salt into the wound, block them also.
But although this is the simple answer, it’s not the ultimate one. To release the demons from within and eliminate the need to stalk him on social, you’ll need all these other steps too.
The bottom line: Commit to letting go
To let go, you’ll need to commit. Set your intentions and muster the willpower to eliminate the habits that are standing in the way. Stalking your ex on social is undoubtedly one of the most harmful, and it’s too darn easy.
These steps have helped me, but if you’re still having a tough time after a few weeks, maybe you want to take a break from social media entirely, even if it’s just temporarily. You’ll find you have a lot more time for all the good things in life.