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The Bitter Lemon: Why we stalk our exes…online

On my way to work last week, the radio show I regularly listen to was talking about the reasons we look up our exes on Facebook.
According to the study they were discussing, the No. 1 reason was to see if that person was dating someone hotter than us.
Fair point.
I’ll admit it, I do look at my exes on social media – that is, if I haven’t blocked them, which is very rare. I’m often scared to look because then I’ll start to care, even after months (sometimes years) of working to move on.
The interesting thing about this is that for as long as I’ve had a serious boyfriend, there was Facebook. Breakups before social media are unknown to me.
Think about it: If there was no real way for us to check up on our exes, we’d probably get over them a lot sooner.
Without social media, the only way we’d know what happened in their lives would be through mutual friends and colleagues, provided we never ran into each other in person.
Facebook has famously been credited for ruining high school reunions, but I think it’s safe to say it’s slowed our chances of moving on, too.
Instead, Facebook has increased the likelihood that we’ll compare ourselves to others, based on status updates and pictures.
It’s human nature to want to know what an ex is up to; after all, they were once a big part of your life.
But really, sometimes I wonder why I even give a shit at all.
And then I heard a podcast featuring psychiatrist Melanie Watkins, M.D., and she said that we tend to feel more attachment to our first love because we simultaneously felt the chemical rush that comes with love, in general.
This one ex in particular, he wasn’t my very first love, he was my second, but I’d say it was the first time I thought about getting married and having kids. I was really thinking about our future.
It was also my longest relationship, and although I hate measuring the weight of a relationship in months or years, it was definitely the most serious.
We went through a lot together; good times and bad (although probably more bad), and we were friends that fell in love. Or at least, I did, I’m still not sure how he felt about the whole thing given that it ended so terribly.
Perhaps my brain has attached that sense of forever with this one ex, because that’s really the only time I’ve thought about it seriously.
I try not to look at his Facebook; he’s married to someone he cheated on me with, and they have a child. He still works the same boring job he’s always had, and the very few times he’s messaged me online over the years, he forgets to mention his family.
Instead, he says he’s “married” to his job.
Even when I do look at an ex’s social media profile, it’s difficult to say what their life is really like, and how much of their feed is a façade.
The chances are likely that we see what we want to see – a fake smile paired with eyes that could only say exactly what we desire.
Whether we’re chemically addicted to old loves, masochists, or just plain bored, my best advice is to clip this habit cold turkey.
Go for the block; pretend Facebook doesn’t exist, and the only way you can get the message from your ex is by way of horse carrier.
At least then there’d be a cowboy, perhaps a sunset, and a valid reason to wear turquoise boots.
Read more about obsessing over exes online on Holly’s blog,
TheBitterLemon.com.

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