Breakups can be tough, and making a clean break can be even tougher now that we have Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter to keep tabs on our ex’s every move. But if you find yourself stalking your former flame, its not because you have a weak resolve; actually, you may Facebook stalk your ex for a scientific reason.
Love and Other Drugs may have been a sub-par movie, but its title was spot on. Your brain sees love in the same way that it sees drugs such as cocaine and alcohol. According to research from Concordia University in Montreal, both love and drug addiction activate the striatum region of the brain, and the brain interprets love as a habit, based on desire and rewards. Furthermore, love and drugs both release the neurotransmitter dopamine into the brain, which signals “feedback for rewards in the brain.”
Even after you go through a breakup, your mind is still "addicted" to your ex. In a study published in the Journal of Neurophysiology, researchers scanned the brains of 15 recently rejected subjects who were sill in love with their ex-partners. When the subjects were shown pictures of their love interests, the region of their brain that showed activity was the same as that of a person happily in love. In other words, the brain’s rewards system was still in play, and the ex was still an effective "drug" even though the relationship was over.
Stalking an ex over social media gives us some of the "high" that our brains associate with that individual. Dr. Lisa Bobby of Growing Self Counseling and Life Coaching told New York Magazine that the brain gets a surge of endorphins from having any contact at all with the ex, be it seeing a new post on Facebook or reading a text message. Even though this makes your brain feel happy for a minute, you’re doing yourself a disservice in the long run. These types of superficial interactions fuel your addiction to your ex, and inhibit your ability to move on. It makes it harder for you to accept that your relationship is over, and will consequentiality make getting over your ex more difficult.
Regardless of the consequences, many of us are keep tabs on our exes. A 2013 study found that 48 percent of social network users “check up on someone they used to be in a relationship with.” So if you’re having trouble weaning yourself off of your ex’s feed, you aren’t alone. But do yourself a favor and put down your smart phone — you'll be much happier when you finally don't care what they post.