One in three people admit to Facebook stalking their ex

But there are yet more reasons we shouldn’t be friends with them

There are many reasons why relationships break down, from the most grievous and heartrending betrayal, to mutually falling out of love. Either way, many former couples elect to ‘stay friends’ and maintain a friendship beyond the death of their relationship. Yet for many this simply does not work. Initially, texts and calls may be frequent, you may make the effort to hang out and remain amicable, but more often than not, contact lessens and lessens. Then, once the attempt at friendship has likely failed, Facebook remains as the final tie.

At this point, long after the initial hostility of the break up has abated, it can seem more antagonising to delete an ex than to keep them as a Facebook friend. For many there is the added bonus of being able to sate their curiosity regarding an individual’s activities now that they are not a big part of their life. Therefore, it is unsurprising that one in three people have Facebook stalked their former lover(s).

However, there is a distinct problem with this approach, since Facebook first emerged 12 years ago (yes it has been that long) as is indicated by a study published in Cyberpsychology, Behaviour and Social Networking. It’s findings give fairly concrete reasons as to why you should probably delete that ex you just can’t let go of. Firstly, the statistic that one in three people Facebook stalk an ex is not necessarily the issue, it is the frequency that indicates where the problem lies- once a week minimum.

While this may not be an overtly intrusive way of keeping tabs on someone’s life, the study does indicate that for those who do engage in online stalking there is ‘an increased likelihood of engaging in offline obsessive relational intrusion’. Put plainly, if this behaviour online is translated into the real world, it is revealed how deeply dysfunctional it really is. Following someone around online may be easy and seem harmless, no more than a guilty pleasure, but it can be just as maladjusted as doing it in offline.

Moreover, even if you do not engage in this extreme and aggressive form of online stalking, even casually looking at an ex’s profile can have a much more insidious effect. Constantly ‘monitoring’ the person by looking at their photos, reading their statuses and what they share is asserted to ‘increase distress over the break up and prolong pining for the former partner’. In essence, it prevents you from moving on from the relationship.

In addition, it puts emphasis on them having moved on themselves, particularly in regards to new relationships. Indeed, the information you do get is likely a misrepresentation of what that person is actually up to. Most people do not share every little detail of the mundanity of their lives, and it is unlikely that an ex is having as great a time without you as they appear to be.

And if none of these reasons convince you, remember that you and that person broke up for a reason. The grass may seem greener on the other side, but more often than not it is better to cut ties than to prolong the process. As the study concluded, it can be convincingly argued that removing all exposure to an ex-partner “may be the best remedy for healing a broken heart”.