If you have a smartphone and an ex, chances are you've looked at their new boyfriend or girlfriend's posts on social media. Instagram-stalking your ex's new relationship can be weird, funny, or upsetting, but above all else, it's tempting. I mean, come on — there's a little window into your ex's new life and their new relationship at the tip of your fingers! Whether you're over them or not, scrolling through the comments on a cutesy pic of the two of them, watching their stories from a friend's account so they can't see that you've viewed them, or screen-grabbing a post to send to your friends is not a good use of your time.
Insta-stalking your ex's new relationship is not productive and it's not healthy. I'm saying this from experience. I'm guilty of doing all of the above things when keeping tabs on an ex and their new relationship and it's never — not once — made me feel better. I have one ex whose posts about his new girlfriend are super cringe-worthy and cheesy, and while those posts reinforce the fact that we are not meant to be together, it doesn't make me happy to see them. And if you're not over an ex, seeing snapshots of their new relationship could be tortuous. So why do that to yourself? Of course, I want to see who my ex is now dating and then compare myself to them in detail, but I'll confess it always makes me feel petty.
Scrolling through your ex and their new boo's accounts might be entertaining at times, but it can keep you from moving on with your life and finding your own happiness. Excessive social media use in general can cause stress, anxiety, and even depression, and make you feel like your life isn't as great as everyone else's. If you're still pining for your ex, comparing their seemingly-happy life to yours probably won't cheer you up.
Theodore Roosevelt wisely said, "Comparison is the thief of joy," and that's obviously relevant now as much as it ever was. When I find myself comparing my vacations, my concert seats, or my Friday night plans with other people's on social media, it can be hard to appreciate the things that I do have. If I'm dating someone, it only makes me compare my current guy to my ex. And if I'm single, looking at my ex's brunch photos with his new girlfriend only makes me feel more alone.
It's also important to realize that what your ex and his new love are sharing on social media might be very different from what's happening in their real lives. Instagram can be a projection of an identity into the world and who knows? Maybe their "sushi date night with my honey" actually gave them food poisoning, or maybe their "three-month anniversary hike" was capped off by a nasty fight. Just like I'll choose to post a flattering pic of when I actually do my hair instead of a pic of me in all my post-yoga/top knot/sweatpants glory, your ex and his bae are only going to show the world the best parts of their relationship.
Let's say you're totally over your ex but still find yourself checking out their latest vacation pics or following their wedding hashtag. If looking at their posts doesn't make you feel one way or the other, you might just be satisfying your curiosity of, "What are they up to?" I tend to think that this kind of checking in on an ex via social media is OK, just like when I saw wedding photos of my old college boyfriend a few months ago and I thought, "Aw, I'm happy for him." I didn't feel the urge to go down the rabbit hole of his new wife's account so I didn't. I went about my day.
So, if your attitude towards your ex is charged, either with feelings of anger, regret, or nostaliga, stalking them on social media is not going to do you any favors. I have an ex I really do not like, so even though I did check out the dress his girlfriend wore to his birthday party (it was a little extra), I'm not going to again. I don't need that energy or those visuals in my life. Instead, I'm going to take the six minutes I'd waste looking at an ex's social media-glossed life and spend it figuring out what dress I'm going to wear to my own birthday party.
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