Should You Stalk Your Ex and Why is it So Addictive? 

(Trigger Warning: while the word “stalk” appears in the blog below, please note that it’s being used in the non-menacing vernacular (as a synonym for “search”). The origin of the word means something entirely different – “stalking” in its original form is of serious nature and potentially dangerous. If you believe you are the victim of stalking, please reach out to your local authorities or call the Rape, Abuse and Incest National Network (RAINN) for support. 

Imagine, if you will, a time. A time so very long ago. One of encyclopedias (look it up), of phones attached to cords (look it up), of letter writing (yeah, go ahead and look that one up, too). A time – without the internet. In the context of romance, it was a whole different can of beans. Once you broke up with someone, there were few mechanisms by which to keep track. A family member might spot your ex at the local watering hole, or – if you maintained ties with common friends – you might get wind of your former paramour’s whereabouts (and WHOM-abouts, if you know what I mean).  

Today, there is no shortage of ways to seek and find a person with whom you’ve been involved. But SHOULD you? Is stalking an ex helpful in any way?  

It’s true that we have a wide variety of avenues through which to achieve this. However, most experts agree with the old adage “Just because you can doesn’t mean you should”. First and foremost, if you are mourning the loss of this person and what they meant to you, what good can come from seeing them live their lives without you? While you may not wish them any ill will, it won’t boost your mental health to witness them moving on without you. Scrolling social media for any purpose induces a chemical our bodies produce called dopamine. Conventional wisdom is that dopamine gives us little boosts of satisfaction; hence, when we get one pic of our ex out at the club, we want more. But actually, dopamine is what incites us to keep going and going because one post isn’t enough and then we tell ourselves there must be more and the more there is the more dopamine is generated and then we need to spend more time scrolling and by this time you’ve forgotten to feed the dog and it’s 4 in the morning and… 

In fact, according to experts, the pain of a breakup can be physically painful (and those of you who’ve experienced a breakup didn’t need any expert to tell you that, am I right?).  

A Columbia University study found that “when participants looked at photos of a recent ex, the same centers in their brain lit up as when they were poked in the arm by a red-hot probe. The same thing did not happen when the same participants were asked to look at photos of their friends”. 

Experiencing the grief of a split is difficult enough, in other words. Why pour more salt in the wound? It doesn’t mean that at some point – if both parties are amenable – there can’t be some contact. But needless ex-scrolling won’t make your former person stop dating others, it won’t wipe the smiles off their faces in their travel photos, and it won’t bring them back to you.  

If you’re going through a breakup, surround yourself with support and comfort, and make sure to treat yourself like a friend who’s going through the same thing. If you feel as though you’re unable to move forward on your own, seek out a licensed therapist who can help you process your feelings and progress, in your own time, toward healing. To learn more about sexual health diagnosis and treatment, contact us today for a free phone consult.

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