I Followed My Ex On Instagram & This Is (Horrifyingly) What Happened
Everyone has that one ex that will always low-key f*ck them up. No matter how many times you don’t work out, you’re willing to give it another chance. No matter how late they drunk-text you, you answer. In the words of my best friend, "everyone has a Brittany." Until you actually get over them, and then you don’t. I’ve felt unaffected by my "Brittany" for two solid years. So yesterday, I decided to follow my ex on Instagram.
And that b*tch won’t accept me! She’s just been letting the request sit there. And trust me, honey, I know she sees it. It’s 2018 — we don’t take a sh*t without our phones. She’s actively ignoring it. Power move.
I’ve been compulsively typing her name into the search engine, willing the "requested" icon to change to "following." I don’t know why — well, I do, but it’s too petty to admit. I want her to see how amazing my life is. Even more frequently than checking her page, I kept stalking my own Instagram, imagining I was her, seeing me. If she looked at my profile (which I’m sure AF she did even though she won’t accept me) she’d know that I got my dream job, moved to a new apartment, and glowed up in general.
Because I literally post everything on social media, she’d know the bad sh*t too: She’d know my nephew passed away, I’ve been struggling with anxiety and depression, and my favorite secret single behavior is dipping a flour tortilla into a gigantic tub of sour cream (seriously, you should try it sometime). I knew that if she accepted me, I still wouldn’t know what was going on for real in her life. She always used social media more privately and less frequently than I did — one post per week, max.
On Instagram, their relationship looked perfect: concerts, restaurants, anniversaries — and each caption was cheesier than the next.
After all, when we had been dating, she was still closeted and never uploaded photos of us. In fact, she’d actively crop me out. Later, when we were broken up but still sleeping together, she met her boyfriend. She would upload photos with him all the time. On Instagram, their relationship looked perfect: concerts, restaurants, anniversaries — and each caption was cheesier than the next. On Christmas, she posted a photo of them together with the caption, "Your love is my turning page." That had been our (corny as f*ck) song. All of it hurt.
But still, whenever she texted me to meet up, I didn't hesitate. Every few months, we'd meet at the only hipster bar on Long Island, catch up, then drive in the same car to a motel you could rent by the hour to have sex. Looking back, that sounds depressing. But at the time, I felt like we were in a sexy, old movie. I got a thrill out of sneaking around. I still had a piece of her; she still had a piece of me. Finally, she told me her boyfriend was planning to propose. She said she couldn't see me anymore.
Sometimes, I’d frantically wake up in the middle of the night and find my hand already reaching for my phone.
Unable to see Brittany in real life, I became even more obsessed with watching her online. I’d wake up in the morning and immediately check her social media. A few hours later, I’d get the burning impulse to check again. My face would flush. I'd get anxious, then completely devastated. Sometimes, I’d frantically wake up in the middle of the night and find my hand already reaching for my phone. I was a masochist — I’d scroll back months and months, to when we were together. But there was no evidence. No proof that we had been happy. No artifacts of our relationship. No corny song lyrics or stupid hashtags.
In order to get over her, I had to block her on every form of social media. Yes, even LinkedIn. You know that stomach dropping feeling you get from bad news? That’s how I felt every time she posted a photo. I would feel physically ill every time I saw her face.
I started to forget her. Little bits of her slipped away. I knew she had a "Made in Japan" tattoo but I couldn’t remember... Was she conceived in Japan or born in Japan? It’s a small detail but forgetting it made me feel like she was water between my fingertips.
I've come such a long way since we stopped speaking. I've dated, f*cked, and even loved other women. I could handle seeing her now. Couldn't I? While waiting to see what her Instagram verdict would be, I resorted to stalking her on Facebook. She's no longer with her boyfriend. Now, she's out and has a very beautiful girlfriend. But that’s basically all I could gather from her very limited public photos. It’s utterly disorienting to see the person you used to spend almost every waking moment with and realize you know nothing about them.
Looking at her Facebook was like looking through a stranger's blinds when you walk past their apartment — it was a snapshot of a life I could never touch or understand. It was as if I never knew her, never loved her. I could still remember the shape of her lips, the brand of mascara she used, her brother's middle name — but I didn’t know her job, where she lived, or her current favorite song. When I saw her photos with her smiling girlfriend, I should've felt happy for her. But instead, I just felt jealous and bitter. Even though I barely knew her anymore, and even though I didn't want her in my life anymore, I couldn't help but want her back.
We can share a significant part of our lives with someone, lose them, move all our sh*t out, then watch their Snapchat story of getting drinks with their friends that night.
Back in the day, after people broke up, they could just release each other into the universe and that was that. Now, we have unlimited ways of staying in touch or seeing what they’re doing. We can share a significant part of our lives with someone, lose them, move all our sh*t out, then watch their Snapchat story of getting drinks with their friends that night. You can meet up at a seedy motel to have sex with your ex-girlfriend, then see that her boyfriend just took her out to the best steakhouse on Long Island and gave her a Michael Kors watch (straight people can be so basic). You can never talk to someone again but still see that they got a new job, a new puppy, and have decided to start taking anxiety medication. That’s some Black Mirror sh*t.
The fact that she wouldn’t accept my Instagram request haunted me. Why not? What is going on in her life? I don’t know if seeing her face would make me fall apart. I don’t think it would. But I don’t think finding out is worth the risk.
When I went to unfollow her, I saw that she had finally denied my request. I felt disappointed that she beat me to the punch, because I really was planning to delete my request. But I also felt relieved — now our past would stay in the past.
Check out the entire Gen Why series and other videos on Facebook and the Bustle app across Apple TV, Roku, and Amazon Fire TV.
Check out the “Best of Elite Daily” stream in the Bustle App for more stories just like this!