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Help! I Can’t Stop Checking My Ex’s IG

Going through the motions of ending a relationship can make you feel like you are on an emotional roller coaster. One day things are going great and then the next day, you and your partner are done. When your relationship ended, you may have felt as if there was no closure when ties were severed with your partner. Old feelings linger, and your curiosity drives you to explore what your ex has been up to since the break-up. It’s not uncommon for people to spy on their ex’s social media account when they don’t feel like there is closure to the relationship, because it’s an easy way to intrude into their space without being found out. Here are the reasons why you secretly watch your ex’s social media account…

1) Your emotions run high when saying goodbye to your partner. Just like when you lose someone in death, you go through a range of emotions including shock/denial, bargaining, anger, sadness, and eventually acceptance. There is saying that “absence makes the heart grow fonder,” which implies that after separation from someone, there are times when you miss them, and you romanticize the relationship. When you romanticize your partner and relationship, your memories focus on the good times you had together while minimizing the bad times. To your dismay, you may start thinking to yourself “our relationship wasn’t so bad.” After that, you start to mentally justify all of the things that your partner did right, how no one else can fill that void, and maybe you should give it another shot. The easiest way to do this is by checking up on your ex on social media – and see how they are doing since the breakup. It feels safer to silently monitor how things are going for them since you two are no longer together.


2) You hate being alone. Being alone after ending a relationship is difficult. Lying in bed alone at night leaves your bed and heart feeling empty. You long for and crave that closeness that your ex provided for you; whether it was the conversation, sex, or just being in your space – things just don’t feel the same when you are single and alone. Trying to find ways to fill the void for the activities that you used to do with your lover on the weekend can feel exhausting. And since you recently broke up you may feel like you don’t know how to occupy your time or your space, which may leave you to wonder what your ex is doing. Perseverating on the feelings of familiarity and security that your ex provided for you cause you to spy on their social media account and follow how they are spending their time – so that perhaps you “happen” to show up where they are and increase the likelihood of rekindling the intimacy flame. You also may think of ways in which you can extend the relationship. It’s not uncommon to want to continue the relationship by being “friends with benefits” to satisfy the craving for intimacy.

3) You want to see if they were happy without you. You ask yourself “is my ex missing me as much as I miss them? Are they hurting as much as I am? How are they moving on without me?” You’d like to think that you were an integral part of your ex’s happiness, and it may be difficult for you to surmise that they can possibly move on and be happy without you. Peeking at their social media gives you the opportunity to see how they are handling their lives emotionally without you in it.

4) Fear of failure. No one wants to feel like they have failed in their relationship. Social media makes it easy for people to fake happiness. People usually only post bright, beautiful, and uplifting photos and statuses. People are getting married, having babies, and getting engaged all around you. Your timeline is filled with happy smiling people – not couples with problems or breakups. How would it look if you changed your status to single? It’s as if you feel like you will be judged on the longevity or your ability to remain in a relationship. There is a lot of pressure associated with appearing as though you are perfect on social media, thus if your relationship fails, it may feel like you are a failure in your ability to love, beloved, and be perfect. There is shame around admitting to others, that despite your best efforts, your relationship didn’t work out. Thus, spying on your ex and keeping up a charade that the two of you are still together, to avoid embarrassment is not an uncommon tactic to maintain an image on social media.


5) Lack of closure. There is this idea that because your relationship ended, that the two of you must properly say goodbye in a special way to mark the parting of your paths. You may feel like you can’t truly move on because you didn’t say good-bye, discuss why things ended the way they did, or let your partner know how you felt when things ended. Thus, you feel that you and your ex have unfinished business. Thus, you may spy on your ex to try and find the right opportunity to talk to them about how things were left.

Ok, now that you know why you silently spy on your ex on social media after the break-up, how can you stop doing it and move on?

1) Honor your emotions and process the breakup. Allow yourself to go through the grieving process, by giving yourself time and space think about the hurt and pain that the breakup has caused, as well as thinking about the finality of the breakup. While going through the pain of grieving doesn’t necessarily feel good, it’s a necessary and healthy part of letting go. There is no right or wrong way to grieve, however, you must allow yourself to do it. It’s okay to cry, get angry, and pass on going out with friends if you are sad about what has happened. If you find that you have difficulty processing your emotions around the breakup, then try finding a therapist that can help you with the coping process. Also, reach out to family and friends.


2) Stop isolating yourself. Being alone can trigger you into feeling like you have to occupy your time, and your space – which you may feel is empty. Rushing back to your ex may feel like an easier option because there is comfort in being with them – especially if feelings are still there. You may also feel like your ex is easily accessible because they still have feelings for you too. Instead of reaching out to your ex or looking at their social media account; pre-schedule activities with friends or for yourself during times when you know you are going to be alone. Find ways to enjoy spending time with and distracting yourself like going to a movie, trying a new restaurant, taking a walk, learning a new hobby, etc.

3) Avoid triggers. Steering clear of triggers in the beginning stages of a break-up can be necessary for you. That can include avoiding spaces like social media, and other platforms where everyone may seem to be a happy couple. When you are triggered to check-up on your ex on social media, develop a strategy where you do something else instead like call a friend, watch tv, etc. Also, be mindful of what causes you to feel like you need to spy on your ex. This can help to understand and avoid the unnecessary emotions of discomfort, feelings of failure, and feeling like you owe people an explanation about your break-up.

4) Buy a body pillow – and a vibrator. Finding a way to quell those normal emotions of wanting to be close to someone intimately can be a useful way to help you move on and prevent you from reaching out to your ex to fulfill those desires. It can be helpful to occupy your bed-space with a body pillow or a large stuffed animal. Also, quelling your desires can be done by using a vibrator, which can prevent you from impulsively reaching out for sex with the ex.

Disclaimer: This blog post is not addressing serious forms of cyberstalking or abuse.  This blog post is to be used for educational and informational purposes and should not be substituted for treatment with a licensed mental health professional. The suggestions mentioned may not be applicable to everyone.


Dr. Natalie Jones, PsyD., LPCC is a Licensed professional clinical counselor and a registered psychologist. She currently has a private practice called Lifetime Counseling and Consulting in Oakland and Sacramento, CA where she specializes in working with women who have been in emotionally and psychologically abusive relationships with narcissists, as well as with individuals who were previously incarcerated for various crimes. Dr. Jones has a podcast called A Date With Darkness Podcast, which specializes in providing education and tips from healing from narcissistic relationships

To contact Dr. Jones please visit:

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Discover the transformative power of healing in community in Dr. Joy Harden Bradford’s debut book, Sisterhood Heals. Order your copy now!

Looking for the UK Edition? Order here