It's 4:30 pm on a Thursday, and you're kind of bored at work.
Nobody is answering your texts, and you're out of stuff to do in the office, but you still have half an hour to kill before you're free!
Like any good millennial (and/or stay-at-home mom), you turn to social media as a cure for your seemingly insatiable boredom.
You're mindlessly stalking your newsfeed when you see a picture of your ex on vacation in what looks like Mexico. He looks good. You're intrigued. So you give his name a click and start browsing through the rest of his profile.
Does this necessarily mean you're not over him?
I talked to Dr. Niloo Dardashti, a psychologist and relationship expert in New York City, to find out what it means when you feel the impulse to stalk your ex.
According to her, it basically all comes down to two questions you need to ask yourself:
What are your intentions?
Dr. Dardashti warns, "It's important to ask yourself what your intentions are."
Before you click on his name written in that bold, blue font, beckoning you to just press on it, ask yourself why you're doing it.
Dr. Dardashti explains that if you're stalking them "because you're genuinely interested in how they're doing and what's going on," it's safe to assume you're over the person in a romantic sense, and it's totally OK to give their profile a little looksy.
On the other had, if you feel an impulsive need for this stalking, it's probably a sign you're not over him, and you should refrain from clicking the forbidden fruit that is his profile as far as you're concerned.
Dr. Dardashti says exactly why you shouldn't: "If you're checking in because you're not over them, most of the time, that becomes sort of an obsessive thing that doesn't have positive outcomes and hinders you from being able to let go."
You're already having a hard time getting over him. Do you really want to set yourself back, like, a million steps by stalking his profile?
How do I feel after I do it?
All right, so you've gone ahead and stalked him.
Now, how do you feel?
Dr. Dardashti asks, "Do you feel the same, worse or better? And if it's better just because they haven't moved on, then that's telling, too. What happens when they do move on?"
On the other hand, if you feel better because you see he's doing well, that's also telling "because it shows that you're genuinely interested in their well-being."
But what if you feel worse?
In an analogy I'm pretty sure we can all relate to, Dr. Dardashti compares stalking your ex to getting drunk. She asks, "Is it like that instant gratification of getting drunk, but then, you feel like shit afterwards?"
If the answer to that question is yes, then "it's something that's starting to control you, and it has a negative impact for you."
How's it a negative impact? Well, it's stopping you from moving on, and according to Dr. Dardashti (and ANYONE with your best interest at heart), "if it's stopping you from moving on, then it's a problem."
If it turns out your stalking is toxic, is it OK to delete your ex?
The short answer? Yes.
Dr. Dardashti expands on her answer, saying, "In those cases, it would probably be better to delete them so that you're not reinforcing the difficulty in letting go."
Trust me, I KNOW why you don't really want to. Beyond letting go of the luxury of being able to stalk him whenever you want, you're showing him that you're not over it. And sometimes, that feels embarrassing.
But, you know what I say? WHO CARES what he thinks? You're broken up anyway. Time to move on, no matter what that takes.