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What does it mean if my ex is watching my Instagram story?

They’re either 100 per cent into you or 1000 per cent over you

Have you ever noticed your ex looking at your Insta story and thought, "wtf is going on in your head"? Are they missing me? Do they want to know who I'm hanging out with? So many questions.

Haunting is the new trend where people who have dumped you keep snooping around your social media profiles, whether it be viewing stories or actually liking posts, either way it's weird it doesn't make sense.

We've already explored how you can find out how many people visit your Instagram profile, how to unsend your Instagram DMs, how to find out if someone’s unfollowed you on Insta and how Instagram ranks the viewer order on your Insta story. Heck, we even made you a guide on everything you need to know about using Instagram in case you get totally lost.

But now there's a new question: what does it mean if your ex is watching your Instagram story? How about we have fewer questions and more answers.

They want to keep their options open

Just because you've broken up, doesn't mean it's the end for both of you. If your ex is always snooping on your story, it could mean they're checking up on you to keep you as an option for the future.

They want to make sure they're happier than you

I guess you could call this closure, but really it's just a bit petty.

Or they want to think you're doing as badly as them

If they're at home crying into a tub of Ben and Jerry's, they want to check you're not out there partying with your mates and getting with other people. They probably want you to be just as miserable as them.

They might be trying to show you they miss you

If they're the first to view your story every day, it could be that they're trying to tell you something. What self-respecting person would view an ex's Insta story five minutes after it was posted, unless they're sending a signal. They might want you back.

To check if you're still single

The hardest thing about a break up is watching the one you lost move on with someone else. And you definitely want to be the first to do it. If they're yet to move on, they could be checking up on you to see if you've got there first.

It might be an accident

A lot of people leave the Insta stories of everyone they follow rolling on when they're bored, and your story could be looming just after their fave fashion blogger and suddenly, boom. They've viewed your story. They're really worried you're going to notice, and you definitely did because you're now reading this article to find out why.

They might just be bored

I mean, this definitely isn't what you want to hear. But if they're totally over you, and they're bored, they might just take a look at what you're up to. And they'll probably be happy to see you're doing well.

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It might mean absolutely nothing

Relationship expert Jen Kirsch told Elite Daily it means absolutely nothing: "Just because an ex viewed your Instagram stories, it doesn't mean he wants you back. I mean, he might, but if he does, you'll know. He'll be shooting you a message to make plans to reconnect, and will lock you down.

"We've all had ghosts of exes past view our stories, and all that means is simply: He viewed our story. Any further analysis of what it means and why now is a waste of time. Something as simple as your story popping up after he's viewed another can explain why he watches it.

"Never be that girl that slides into his DMs to ask 'Why did you view my Insta story?' No one likes that girl, and it's not a chic look.

"The only time his viewing habits become problematic is when you take them personally, and you change your actions accordingly. For example, if you start going out to things or throwing other babely boys on your Insta stories in hopes to make him jealous/make him realise he made a mistake ever leaving you… then you're living for someone else and not yourself."

Why the people who ghost us keep watching our Instagram stories

Vicki Pavitt, love expert at Match, told Mashable this is a "modern phenomenon that wouldn't have even been possible a few years ago.

"It’s a low commitment way for the ghost or ex-partner to stay connected and play a passive role in their exes' lives," says Pavitt. She says that it can give the ghost "an ego boost if it prompts the person they ghosted to contact them.

"People love to feel wanted even if they aren’t interested and this is a way for the ghost to encourage that interest with almost no effort."

However, Martin Lucas, a human behaviour expert at MasterMindset, says that if the person who broke things off is the one lurking on Instagram, then they're likely doing it to "validate the choice" they made.

That ex, in Lucas' opinion, is "looking for confirmation" that breaking up was "the right thing," and they could even be wondering if their absence is being felt acutely. But, if that ex is in a "self-doubting mood," Lucas says they could be looking at your profile with "a mixture of regret and jealousy.

There are also three theories about how Instagram ranks the viewer order on your Insta story

If your ex is always coming up first on the list of people who have viewed your Insta story, this might be why.

The stalking theory

One Reddit user told this thread the top people are those who stalk your Instagram the most. They don't even have to like or comment, it's just who views your profile the most.

The top 50 theory

Others think the order is chronological for the first 50 viewers, so your viewer order will show who tapped to watch your story first.

The three signals

Instagram's Paige Thelen, who works in Insta's tech communications team, told Social Media Week there are three considerations as to who ranks where, including the timing of the post, your relationship and how much they think they'll like your story.

Related stories recommended by this writer:

1. How to get a blue tick on Instagram, Tinder, Facebook and Twitter

2. How to get 1,000 Instagram followers, by people who’ve done it

3. Here’s how to watch someone’s Instagram story without them seeing you’ve seen it

4. This is how Instagram ranks the viewer order on your Insta story