Repeat after me: Be the bigger person. Be the bigger person.
Who can resist the urge to look at their ex's Facebook page after a breakup? It calls your name and whispers, "Check me out!" No harm, right?
An astute researcher in England begs to differ. One study concluded that the more time you spend on your ex's Facebook page, the more psychological distress you experience, the greater your desire for your ex, and the more difficulty you have moving on.
You shouldn't really be surprised. That's because most of us realize that the toxic connections we have with our exes are stoked by talking about, thinking about, and looking at stuff about them. While lurking on their Facebook page may not morph itself into stalking, it's just not healthy.
Here are some dos and don'ts when it comes to social media and relationships. Let's start with the things you shouldn't do:
- Don't stalk your ex online. Don't look at his Facebook page and don't look at his Twitter feed, either. I strongly suggest de-friending your ex and un-following him. Otherwise, you'll wind up seeing posts you shouldn't see. While you're at it, de-friend your ex-in-laws and ex-friends as well.
- Don't post things about your ex online. Posting about your ex online is just asking for trouble. If you want to have a private conversation about your ex with a friend, that's great. Just don't use a social media platform for it. Your goal should be to decrease the time you spend ex-watching and ex-bashing.
- Don't "friend" your ex's new girlfriend. This may seem self-evident, but you'd be surprised by how many people fall into this trap.
And here's what you should do.
- Do consider cancelling your Facebook account. Remove yourself from Facebook and similar sites entirely if you know staying away from your ex is going to be really tough for you. Do you really need to know where the high school friends you haven't seen in a million years got drunk last Saturday night?
- Do use social media to advertise your singledom and meet new people. I'm a big advocate of online dating post-divorce. If you feel like advertising your single status online is somehow unfair or disrespectful to your ex, get over it. You're completely entitled to move on, regardless of the circumstances of the demise of your relationship.
- Do ignore posts you think are about you. Your ex, their friends and family may post things about some unnamed party you believe to be you. It may or may not be you. Even if you're 100 percent sure it's you, don't bother responding. You'll feel better taking the high road. Forgiveness is a virtue; practicing it makes us happy.
You know that if you want to feel better and move on with your life, keeping surveillance your ex isn't the way to go. Besides, de-friending is empowering.