While social media is now part of our everyday lives, and there are definitely benefits to it, I’m just one of those people who likes to keep my relationships more personalized through texts or face-to-face conversations. So, why do I happen to find myself in my loneliest hours scrolling away at my ex’s Facebook page to determine who is winning this post-breakup game that neither of us knew we were playing? According to a new study, people Facebook stalk exes as a coping mechanism. But as the study found, it isn’t smart because it may actually hurt us more than it will help.
The study, which was published in the journal Cyberpsychology, Behavior, and Social Networking, used an online survey to test whether social networking sites make it even more difficult to separate from a romantic partner. The survey, which was conducted by Dr. Jesse Fox from Ohio State University, took 150 male and 281 female Facebook users aged 18 to 42 and asked about their attachment style, how invested they were in their relationships, if they used social networks to look for “alternatives,” if they’ve ever stalked their exes on Facebook, and who ended the relationship.
Researchers found that people who developed “anxious attachment style” as kids were more insecure about their adult relationships. Because of that, they were known to constantly question their partner’s intentions in the relationship. Those people were also more likely to use Facebook to find “alternatives” to their partner.
Similarly, people with “attachment avoidance” also used Facebook to find alternative options. However, they were also found to be less invested in their relationships, and therefore, much less committed.
In unsurprising results, people who were more committed were found to have higher levels of emotional distress post break-up, which, in turn, made them more likely to Facebook stalk their ex as a way of coping. Researchers labeled this coping mechanism as “interpersonal electronic surveillance.”
But as researchers found, it's not a good ideas to do it. When people saw their exes flirting with other people or changing their relationship status, negative feelings were triggered, and the cycle of having to get over your ex had to be repeated. That kind of negative cycle actually makes it a lot harder for the “stalker” to recover from the breakup, which of course, tends to lead to problems in future relationships.
Now we know why people stalk their exes on social media, here are three things science says about Facebook stalking your ex. Word of advice, just don't do it.
1. It Will Lead To Depression
According to a University of Missouri study published earlier this year, Facebook stalking can actually lead to feelings of depression. After surveying 736 college students from a large Midwestern university on their Facebook behaviors, it was found that feelings of depression were triggered by feelings of envy from posts about new vacations, new cars, or happy relationships.
2. Even Though It's Bad For You, A Lot Of People Still Do It
In fact, an Ontario study published earlier this year found that 88 percent of people have admitted to “creeping” on their ex’s Facebook page just to keep tabs on them.
3. If Say You Haven't Done It, You're Probably Lying
A 2013 study released by the Pew Internet and American Life Project found that stalking exes online has become a new millennial trend. While at the time, only 47 percent admitted to actually doing it, as The Atlantic hilariously noted, “the other 53 percent are lying.”
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