How Facebook Stalking Your Ex Actually Hurts You

Men's Dating

How “Facebook Stalking” Your Ex Actually Hurts You

Dr. Wendy Walsh

Written by: Dr. Wendy Walsh

Dr. Wendy Walsh

Known as America's Relationship Expert, Dr. Wendy Walsh is an award-winning television journalist, radio host & podcaster, and the author of three books on relationships and thousands of print and digital articles. More than 1.5 million people follow her sage advice on social media. She holds a Ph.D. in Clinical Psychology and teaches in the Psychology Department at California State University Channel Islands and has been the host of "The Dr. Wendy Walsh Show" on iHeart Radio's KFI AM 640 since 2015. Walsh is also a former Emmy-nominated co-host of "The Doctors," as well as former host of the nationally syndicated show "EXTRA." She was named a Time Magazine Person of the Year in 2017 after speaking out about harassment at a major news network.

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Edited by: Lillian Castro

Lillian Castro

Lillian Guevara-Castro brings more than 30 years of journalism experience to ensure DatingAdvice articles have been edited for overall clarity, accuracy, and reader engagement. She has worked at The Atlanta Journal and Constitution, The Gwinnett Daily News, and The Gainesville Sun covering lifestyle topics.

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I read a funny joke the other day. A woman on a date said “I’m so happy that we’ve gotten close enough now that you can tell me all the things I read about you online.” It’s funny because it shows how our privacy has been invaded — by us — and our use of social networking sites like Facebook.

And while Facebook can be a great way to stay connected, it can be really problematic when it comes to getting disconnected.

Facebook surveillance.

A new study published in Cyberpsychology, Behavior, and Social Networking looked at how couples who break up cope in relation to their use of Facebook.

Many people, it seems, have such a hard time saying goodbye that they practice “Facebook surveillance” of their exes, and this can have dangerous emotional consequences.

The impact of continued viewing of an ex-romantic partner’s Facebook postings, even with no direct communication, was considered in the study, which is called “Facebook Surveillance of Former Romantic Partners: Associations with Post-Breakup Recovery and Personal Growth.”

Four hundred and sixty four heartbroken study participants were asked questions about their own negative feelings, their emotional recovery and their adjustment levels after a breakup.

Those results were compared with data on the participants’ Facebook usage and tendency to peek at their ex’s profile page.

As suspected, Facebook peeping sure didn’t help people recover from a romantic breakup. In fact, it prolonged their agony.


“Wallowing in the memories is not

giving yourself emotional health.”

So what is modern protocol?

Just because we’ve had intimate contact with someone, should we declassify them and banish them from our online friend network?

My answer is yes, at least in the short term.

The study supported other research that ex-lovers who had frequent contact in the real world also had trouble getting over a breakup. And in the real world, this is usually remedied by switching coffee shops, taking a different train to work and declining party invitations from mutual friends.

In the online world, we need to keep ourselves emotionally safe by doing a technical version of the same thing. That means defriending our exes until the emotional fury and pain of the relationship subsides.

Depending on your attachment style, that can take anywhere from a year to never. But wallowing in the memories and fretting about who they might be dating now — all information that can be gathered online — is not giving yourself the gift of emotional health.

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