Whether it’s due to seeking distraction or closure, or just not feeling ready to let go of an ex, many people have found themselves continuously engaging in this behavior. When you’re struggling to move on and a breakup feels fresh, it’s human nature to feel tempted to check what your ex is up to.
Running into your ex unexpectedly can feel a bit like a jump scare in a horror movie and if the breakup was rough, you may find your fight-or- flight response kicking in. Checking your ex’s social media can produce the same effects. Even if you know you will see your ex’s profile when you go on social media, you may see something they posted which feels shocking, hurtful, or surprising. If you do happen to find out information that causes you to question the relationship or your ex’s ability to move on quickly, it may cause your adrenaline to kick in and create a vicious cycle of continuing to check their feeds to find out more.
When you’re going through a breakup, the urge to scroll social-media feeds, or to post frequently yourself, can feel amplified. A survey conducted by Specops Soft found that 27% of 2,568 participants continued to log into an ex’s social media account following a breakup. When you are feeling low or anxious, social media can have detrimental effects on your mood by increasing the likelihood that you will engage in social comparison.
Next time you feel the urge to check your ex’s social media, consider trying the following instead:
1. Wait 5 minutes.
It is likely at this point that scrolling your ex’s feed has become a habit, and when the urge to check feels strong, you may not feel like you can stop yourself. However, if you can practice delaying following through on the urge for 5 minutes each time, you can begin to create space between the impulse to go online and the action of scrolling social media. The more you practice delaying the urge, the more you should be able to extend the time you wait by 10 minutes, then 20, until you are able to not follow through on the urge altogether. This approach can feel less intimidating than trying to stop cold turkey.
2. Consider the following questions:
- What is checking your ex’s profile distracting you from feeling?
- What might you be avoiding that needs to be tended to instead of checking their feed?
- How will you feel if you check their feed?
- How did you feel the last time you checked on their social media pages?
- If you were trying to support a friend in a similar situation to yours, what would you tell them to do instead?
3. Find a replacement activity, and come up with a plan ahead of time.
- Enlist the help of a friend or family member whom you trust and text them instead of checking your ex’s social media.
- Think about an activity that feels realistic and manageable to do while you’re delaying the urge to check your ex’s feed, such as watching 5 minutes of your favorite show, calling a friend, taking a quick walk, or writing out the answers to the questions above.
- Write out your plan and have it in front of you to reference when needed. For example: “The next time I feel the urge to check my ex’s social media feeds, I will [text/call the following people]/[do this activity].”
4. Focus on the reasons why the relationship didn’t work out. Reflect on the reasons the relationship ended. Chances are, as painful as it might be, there are some valid reasons why it ended. Focusing primarily on the positive memories related to the relationship will likely intensify feelings of heartbreak and prevent you from having a balanced view of the relationship. Many people have a tendency to focus on positive memories following a breakup, which increases their suffering and causes them to overlook the negative aspects of the relationship.
One way to counteract this tendency is to focus on the reasons why you and your ex weren’t compatible. Results from this study showed that intentionally reflecting about an ex-partner’s negative qualities can reduce attachment to them and assist with healing from a breakup. If you find yourself feeling tempted to reach out to an ex, or you can’t stop thinking about the positive memories you shared, it can help to write out their negative qualities and/or the dissatisfying parts of the relationship, then refer back to that list when you need a reminder of the reasons you broke up in the first place.
5. Find an outlet to express your feelings about the breakup. It can be particularly difficult to move on when a relationship ends unexpectedly. Often when a relationship ends abruptly and you’re struggling to understand why, you may find yourself ruminating about what went wrong and consequently unable to move on.
If you are waiting for closure before you move on, you can end up feeling disempowered if you are not getting the answers you seek.
Contrary to popular belief, you don’t have to rely on the other person for closure. You can create closure by finding an outlet to express and process your feelings such as writing your ex a goodbye letter, and then ripping it up or burning it, in order to allow yourself to express all of the things you never got a chance to say.
6. Consider setting digital boundaries. This step may seem obvious, but you may not be ready to put it into action yet. If blocking your ex on social media doesn’t feel possible right now, consider muting or restricting them or their friends (depending on the platform you use most) or deactivating your own social media temporarily.
Disclaimer: This post is for informational purposes only. This post is not intended to be a substitute for professional or psychological advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your mental health professional or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding your condition or well-being.
Originally posted on Psychology Today