Whether you're newly single or you've been broken up for a while, you may be wondering what it means if your ex is still watching your Instagram stories. Are they still in love with you? Are they watching your stories while crying into a pint of ice cream, screaming your name and wishing they never let you go? Or does your story come on automatically as they ingest everything that Chrissy Teigen posts to the web?
"Cyberstalking your ex is a response to the loss and grief of losing your relationship — even when you’re the one who initiated the breakup," Clarissa Silva, Behavioral Scientist and Creator of Your Happiness Hypothesis Method, tells Elite Daily. "There’s nothing wrong with you checking up on your exes status sometimes. But, if it is preventing you from healing from the pain the relationship caused, you are creating an unhealthy cycle."
With the continuous nature of Instagram stories, perhaps it's easy for your ex to automatically see you eating a burrito or wishing your mom a happy birthday, without really seeking you out. According to the experts, your ex still watching your Instagram stories can mean a number of things — or even mean nothing at all. "If your ex is still looking on your social media it doesn’t automatically mean they still love you. It could simply be a case of curiosity or boredom," Susan Winter, an NYC-based relationship expert and love coach, tells Elite Daily. "Curiosity is normal. Checking your stories from time to time is harmless."
Silva agrees that the entertainment value of your Instagram story could be driving your ex's viewing. "Being 'social' can make us dependent on our social networks to provide entertainment value, which can lad to sharing our highlight reels. For some, it can serve as a form reality TV for your inner circle. It has become habitual to check feeds and people’s channels, in general," Silva says. Still, Winter attests there's a difference between your ex casually seeing a story or two and watching everything you post, all day everyday. "‘Frequency’ is the factor that separates curiosity from a lingering love," Winter says. If your ex watches everything you post religiously, they may be keeping tabs on what you're up to.
Of course, if the breakup ended badly, or if you think there's still some feelings to sort out, your ex may be viewing your story with a heavy dose of #FOMO. "What I have found with my clients is that most of the time, people just want to see if they are worse off without you," Silva says. "For those seeking closure in the relationship because you have unresolved pain, you’re waiting to confirm something you thought or felt and that can help you move on. But if you obsessively check their status channels you need to explore why you feel the need to check on your past decision about that person." According to Silva, your ex may be watching your stories because they haven't fully processed the breakup or they want to create some sort of comparison. Maybe they believe you are going to be ready to date again before them or they can't help but want to see your amazing new apartment. Just because a relationship has ended doesn't mean that all interest immediately withers away.
Shula Melamed, MA, MPH, and well-being coach, tells Elite Daily that the deeper meaning of your ex watching your story may lie in their intention. "It really depends on their reason for doing so," Melamed says. "What it means to them and what it makes them feel by watching them are really the determining factors. If they are doing to strum their pain over your breakup or engage in schadenfreude it's likely hurting them more than you." If you're starting to feel strong and healed from the breakup and your ex wants to stew in anger or compare lives, Melamed attests that that is their problem. If you don't want your ex seeing the amazing things you're up to, according to all the experts, you can feel free to block them. "If it bothers you or makes you feel exposed or oddly monitored you could always block. It's your space and you are allowed to curate who is permitted to enter," Melamed shares.
Silva shares that while Instagram allows us to peek into people's lives, even people we wouldn't want to actually hangout with IRL, sometimes it's healthy to maintain some consistency between your Instagram and your real life. If your ex is no longer in your real life, it's OK to take them out of your virtual life. "Ideally, if they are no longer a priority in your life, they should be downgraded or deleted off your feed. Real life should mimic your digital life. IRL that would mean you are following them around, peering through restaurant and bar windows, or hiding behind weight machines," Silva says. If you're feeling like your ex watching your stories is a little too close for comfort, it's OK to talk to them about it, or even give a little virtual distance. Winter agrees, "Mute their feed and take a break if it’s all getting to be too much."
You ex watching your Instagram story can mean a number of things, but what's most important is how you feel about them watching. If you think you need more time to process the breakup, if you don't like the idea of them keeping tabs on your, or if it makes you sad to see them watch, it's OK to block, delete, and refresh. If you're feeling OK with your ex watching your stories, it can be a healthy way to stay in contact as well. At the end of the day, you get to choose what you post and who sees it.