Jim Daly Christian Blog and Commentary

Stalking Your "Ex" on Facebook

  • Jim Daly Jim Daly is president and chief executive officer of Focus on the Family, a non-profit organization dedicated to helping families thrive.
  • 2011 Oct 25

Posted by Jim_Daly Oct 24, 2011




Have you ever looked up your “ex” on Facebook?

By “ex” I mean either your former spouse or someone you once dated.

If you have, you wouldn’t be alone. According to some recent research, 48% of Facebook users admit to looking at their ex’s profile too often. Of course, “too often” is a subjective term. But if nearly half of those polled are acknowledging perusing a person’s profile excessively, you can be sure the number of those looking once or even twice is higher still.

If your former spouse or boyfriend or girlfriend is among this number – or if your actions are contributing to the statistic - is there reason for concern?

Curiosity is a natural emotion. If you’ve spent years with another person, even non-sexually, ties are often very difficult to break. This is the way God made us, and for good reason. In any meaningful relationship we wind up sharing a piece of ourselves – and when the end comes, especially on bad terms, such parting hurts. So, when you split, you might wonder what came of them and whether or not they’re married or dating again.

I think that’s normal.

And beyond mere wondering, there might be some justifiable reasons to keep tabs on an ex if, for example, you’re currently engaged in a joint custody negotiation or previously discussed arrangement concerning a son or daughter.

But laying aside the exceptions, it would seem to me that why we’re keeping tabs on this person is even more important than if we’re checking on them at all.

Would you agree?

Perhaps it’s time to evaluate your motivations. Are you holding out hope for reconciliation, even years after the break-up? Is there some undisclosed trauma that you’ve yet to resolve with this person? If they broke it off with you, are you hoping to discover that their life is miserable without you, thus giving your ego some feel-good strokes? If you’re the one who initiated the divorce or break-up, are you hoping to relieve some guilt and justify your actions when you discover that they now appear happy and content in their new life?

Because people and relationships are unique and complex, a broad brush analysis doesn’t always work. However, in the vast majority of cases, our counselors have a fairly simple recommendation:

Assuming you have either remarried or experienced some degree of closure in a relationship, the healthiest thing you could do is turn away from the past, embrace the present and look to the future. Don’t keep checking out an ex’s status updates. Stop stalking them via their posted photos.

In other words, don’t look back.

Get on with your life! 

Social media has made it possible  to continuously revisit portions of our lives (in real time, no less!) – but what’s possible often differs from what is wise. Just because you can “friend” an ex on Facebook doesn’t mean you should. And just because you can follow their new life away from yours doesn’t mean it’s healthy to do so.

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