When you are mending after a breakup, it’s natural to wonder what your ex is up to. You used to know everything about them, and suddenly you have no idea what they are doing. It’s weird. Remember that your body is essentially recovering from addiction, and even a tiny dose of your drug (your ex) will cause you to relapse. When the forceful drive comes in all too strong, demanding that you check up on their social media, you have the power to say no. Social media stalking just prolongs your mending process. As long as you are checking up on your ex, even in the smallest ways, you are preventing yourself from mending your broken heart. So how do you stop?
1. The first step is to assess what you used each social media for in terms of your ex. If you tagged each other in memes on Instagram and funny videos on Facebook, one option is to have a designated substitute. This will likely be a close friend who you can tag instead of your ex. This won't be a quick fix, you might still think about your ex for a second before you tag your friend, but eventually you'll build a new habit. When you catch yourself browsing through something that makes you think of your ex, close the tab, and check a different website or read a book.
Bonus tip: It’s unlikely you’ll run into your ex on Pinterest, so it’s a great alternative if you are looking for visual stimuli!
2. The second step is to realize where you had the most contact with your ex and limit your exposure to that outlet. If your ex posted a lot on Facebook, you may want to mute them. In fact, Facebook has made breaking up with someone a whole lot easier. Essentially, you can make them invisible without unfriending them: tags in photos are removed, timeline posts will not include those from your ex, and you can even hide your updates and posts from your ex’s timeline. Of course, you can unfriend them too, that’s up to you! If you can’t help but view your ex’s stories on Instagram, it’s time to unfollow them. If you constantly check to see if your ex viewed your Snapchat story, it’s time to delete them. Deleting, unfriending, and unfollowing are cathartic ways of choosing self care over disappointment and anxiety.
3. The third step is to understand your triggers. Every time you get the urge to check your ex’s social media, ask yourself what just happened that made you want to do that? This will be easiest to do if you don’t check often. For me specifically, I know I get curious about my ex every time I anticipate having a conversation with a friend about the breakup. I will think about what I want to say beforehand, but this just leads to a downward spiral where I ultimately lose all my self-control and stalk every social media outlet. Thus, I have stopped thinking about what I want to say when I catch up with old friends, and instead, I let the topic of the breakup come up naturally, if at all.
4. The fourth step is an important one: have a replacement activity! If you live in a perpetual state of wanting to check up on your ex, we’re not judging. Breaking an old habit requires a new one. Maybe you’re the opposite, maybe you never check up on your ex. I used to be that way, and my most important piece of advice would be: don’t start! If you ever get the urge to see what they are up to, nip it in the bud. The only way to do this is with a whole lot of self-control and a replacement activity. This replacement needs to become your default. As soon as you want to type their name into Instagram, Twitter, or Facebook, close the app and go straight to Mend for your daily training or visit Do This Instead. Make it an instant reaction. Don’t think about it, just do it. Otherwise, you’ll end up typing in their name and getting lost in their tags from 2014. Don’t do it.
5. If you still find yourself checking up on your ex, step five is to do a digital detox. Block their number, unfriend, and unfollow on everything, delete all texts, and give yourself an incentive to maintain your no stalking streak.
6. If you’ve unfollowed and unfriended your ex, you might still be checking up on them if they are public on everything. It may be time to take your digital detox up a notch. Uninstall social media from your phone and block these websites online using the SelfControl Mac app or Chrome plug-in. This is an extreme measure, but it is one that will reap so many benefits. Not only will it help you to move on, you'll also feel more present by disconnecting from your social media entirely. Let it be a good thing, because it is!
Bonus tip: With the SelfControl app for Macs and Google Chrome, you can block your ex’s Facebook URL, Twitter URL, and Instagram URL without blocking those websites entirely. And it's completely free!
We know breaking up with your ex’s social media is very hard. In some ways, it feels like you are losing the very last thing that kept the two of you connected. That’s all the more reason why it needs to be done. This facade of a connection keeps you stuck and prevents you from really moving forward with your life. Once you stop checking to see if they viewed your story or liked any new tweets, you will feel that last tie come loose, and it will set you free to focus on what really matters here: you.