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Facebook stalking an ex may lead to long-term harm


Checking your ex-partner’s Facebook profile can be addictive and might prevent you from moving on, according to research by Brunel’s Dr Tara Marshall.

In an article for The Conversation, Dr Marshall, a psychology lecturer, says that rather than being a harmless response to a break-up, for some poring over an ex-lover’s profile can be much more serious.

Dr Marshall's research found that a third of people in a relationship admitted they “very often” looked at their current partner’s Facebook page, and around the same number admitted they “Facebook-stalked” an ex-partner at least once a week.

In many cases, such surveillance was associated with “greater distress over the break-up, protracted longing for an ex-partner, more negative feelings towards and sexual desire for the ex, and lower personal growth,” according to Dr Marshall.

She added: “I’ve found that people with an anxious attachment style – that is, those with low self-esteem, a fear of rejection, and greater jealousy in relationships – are more likely to Facebook-stalk current and ex-partners. They may monitor their Facebook profiles to feel close to them, and to identify or ward off any threats from real or imagined romantic rivals.

“It’s not inevitable that anyone who uses Facebook will become a problematic user, but this sort of social media surveillance uniquely contributes to negative feelings after a break-up – more so than just what those with attachment anxiety might feel without using Facebook. Again, this suggests that Facebook surveillance isn’t just a symptom of anxious attachment, but something extra.”

Read the full article here.