Facebook stalking your ex? 3 questions to ask yourself...
In my practice, more and more, I am seeing increasing numbers of clients struggling to let go and move on from relationships which have ended. Many of these individuals regularly seek out contact with their ex via social media. Whether this is overtly, or covertly, my experience with clients suggests, it is not helpful.
The ending of a relationship can be hard and painful. You may be left feeling hurt, rejected, abandoned. Feelings of failure, low self-esteem and loneliness may also set in, increasing the feelings of distress. The ending can feel like a huge loss and the grief experienced can feel overwhelming.
The world of social media is playing an increasing role in the difficulty that can be experienced when a relationship ends, as the pull to continue to connect with an ex feels to some, almost a compulsion. This though, in my experience, can hamper the grieving process and have a negative impact on individual personal growth.
Some individuals become overly involved in seeking out information about ex partners via social media, spending many hours going over and over Facebook or other social media platforms, reliving both the relationship and the distress felt at the ending of it. Giving in to this desire to ‘check-up’ by Facebook stalking prolongs the pain and suffering which occurs at the end of a relationship and makes it difficult to move forward in a way which is helpful.
Questions to ask yourself when you feel the urge to ‘check-up’ on an ex are:
1. What are you hoping to find?
Perhaps you are looking for some evidence that this person is feeling the same as you. Perhaps you are secretly hoping that they are in a worse place? Perhaps you are looking for evidence that they are sorry, or still care? Perhaps you are seeking some relief from your own pain? Or something else?
2. What is the reality of your experience?
The reality of ‘stalking’ on Facebook can significantly increase your distress as often, what you find is vastly different to your expectations. After all, when using social media, we all tend to post only the good bits of our lives. Right?
3. Is it helpful to you?
So, now ask yourself: Is this helping me? Recent research would suggest, not! Marshall (2012) concluded that individuals who Facebook stalked their ex, felt more stuck in the feelings of the break-up than those who cut social media contact. They also experienced greater levels of distress, negative feeling and yearning for the relationship. Facebook stalking significantly affects your personal growth when going through a break up.
The evidence seems to suggest that the sooner you break the pattern, the sooner your negative feelings, your longing and distress will subside. This can be difficult to do; particularly as social media is right at your fingertips! Counselling can help. Having a space to explore your difficult emotions and get to the root of these unhelpful patterns can help provide the support you need to move forward, in a way that is helpful and facilitative of your own personal growth.