Fixating on your ex's life post-breakup is a masochistic vice, not unlike Russian roulette. Chances are you're going to come out of it either extremely hurt or slightly scorned, and certainly not as stable as you were before you joined the game to begin with.Our inclination to update our followers on the most mundane aspects of our lives and the advent of apps like Find My Friends means that keeping tabs on someone—especially someone you used to love, or at least sleep with—has never been easier or more normalized. And the appeal of checking in on your ex is understandable; it can be fun! There's a chance you walk away feeling like a master sleuth after deducing that the reason they were dressed up in their Instagram story last night (yes, the one you watched on your burner account) was because they were at their uncle's work party, or, in other words, not a date.
But, as experts and anyone who's been stuck on their ex's Instagram since their breakup will tell you, the experience of obsessively tracking your ex's social media activity is more often triggering and sad than enjoyable. And because it sucks so much, the newly-single people of the world have tried time and time again to stop this destructive behavior, often to no avail. It's the reason why we have a plethora of pieces examining the phenomenon, including social media etiquette guides created specifically for breakups and the article you're reading right now. But, what if instead of simply blocking your ex, you could block the urge to see what they're up to without you altogether?I spoke to two relationship therapists—Marissa Gomez Schursky, LMFT and Kate Deibler, LMSW and member of Alma—about how to not want to stalk your ex.
According to both Schursky and Deibler, creeping on your ex only makes it more difficult to get over them. Remember that you broke up for a reason. Go through the list of reasons that point to why you should no longer be together, and remember that every time you check in on them, you're making it harder for yourself to get over someone who isn't good for you.Also remember that you are human and will likely find yourself on your ex's profile throughout the process of trying to stop—that's okay.
Remember Why You Broke Up
For the majority of young people, our phones are the first thing we look at when we open our eyes in the morning and the last thing we look at before going to bed. Instead of looking at your ex's face right before you fall asleep and as soon as you wake up, try taking these moments alone to write, stretch, or open a new book.Taking up new hobbies like working out post-breakup may seem cliché, but they're popular suggestions because they work. It's a lot harder to keep tabs on your ex when your hands are busy inside boxing gloves or molding clay—and it's more effective than blocking and unblocking them. "I recommend this as a good time to take space and a time where you can be selfish and put yourself first," says Schursky. Along with trying new experiences, Deibler suggests exploring new methods of self-care to pull your focus away from your previous partner and onto yourself.
Find Productive Distractions
What are the things you've always wanted to try but never had the time for?
Deibler recommends taking note of when you feel the urge to look at your ex's social media. "[One] tactic is to reflect [on] why there are some moments that make you want to check in more than others. Most people feel the urge to do this when they are already feeling lonely or sad," she says. Are there things you can do to prevent these feelings?Occupying yourself by going on dates is one method, but remember that while dating can certainly be helpful in taking your mind off of your ex, it can also distract you from reflecting and feeling the emotions that come with the end of a relationship. "The worry with jumping back into dating is that it can be used as a distraction from processing things," says Schursky."For some people the adage that the best way to get over someone is to get under someone else is certainly true. Others need more time. Neither is inherently ‘better’ than the other," says Deibler. "If possible, it can be fruitful to be reflective on your own process and why you feel certain feelings over in any given moment."When you can, replace the time spent dwelling over what your ex is up to with time reflecting on what's just happened and how you're feeling coming out of it all—whether or not someone else is in the picture.
Put Down Your Phone and Reflect
Nostalgia can be the biggest roadblock in moving on from an old relationship. Keeping tabs on your ex, and, consequently coming across moments you spent together is not going to help you move on. Deibler recommends focusing on ways you can "reframe and reclaim" memories from your relationship that will help you move on, like "going to the places you used to go to with your ex to create new memories with friends or with yourself."Both Deibler and Schursky agree that it is both easy and dangerous to think of your breakup as a "failure." Instead, consider it a learning experience and an opportunity for growth—and learning to stop caring about what your ex is doing is certainly a part of that.