How Obsessively Online Stalking My Ex Helped Me Move On

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How Obsessively Stalking An Ex Online Helped Me Move On
Heartbreak

It was a messy demise, but I always knew it would be.

There's no way something so up and down, and dramatically chaotic, could end civilly. It would either have to end in a big, fiery finale, or it would have gone on and on.

So, when that fiery ending came, there was an immediate shutdown and cut off of each other in every way possible, most notably on Facebook. I was glad of it. I didn't need to see him out in the world living his life without me.

That was my initial thought, anyway, before stalking an ex became my obsession.

RELATED: Facebook Stalking Your Ex Is Bad For Your Health, Says Study

But when I finally pulled myself off the bathroom floor where I had been laying and crying for weeks, huddled over the toilet because I couldn't keep anything in me, I realized that I needed to see what was going on with him. 

I had to see if he'd moved on, who he was spending time with now, and if a new woman was in his life, I needed to know what it was she had that I did not.

However, being blocked on Facebook doesn't allow such things, and online stalking an ex whose online presence is very minimal is fruitless.

Instead, I turned to Twitter and Instagram, two forms of social media where we had not blocked each other. I didn't block him, because I wanted him to see how "great" I was doing through my Instagram photos, and I'm not sure why he didn't block me. Maybe he forgot.

At first, I was obsessive about it. I cross-referenced what I found on his Instagram and Twitter, and tried to match whatever photos of women I saw with the banter that was going on in his Twitter feed.

I also took to his Flickr and flipped through photos there, trying to figure out who, of all those girls at the parties he attended that summer in particular, was the one he was taking home.

Through a combination of social media and Flickr, I was able to figure out whom he was dating (or at least sleeping with), by the frequency of certain people in the photos and the commentary under each picture. And then I'd look at their accounts too, to see how often he commented and liked their photos, as a way to gauge if it was a passing thing or something serious.

RELATED: I Follow My Exes On Social Media, Even Though I'm Happily Married (And This Is Why It's Totally Ok)

I guess to call me obsessive is, perhaps, an understatement. And although it hurt every time I did it, and it always resulted in me being sick to my stomach, crying, and even sometimes vomiting, I'd still do it. I needed to know.

I saw women come and go, the travels he took, the apartments he moved in and out of, and the new friends he made, although from the palm of my hand. I watched his hair grow long, then get it cut, and buy new glasses.

He adopted a dog somewhere along the way, and eventually, only one girl became the focus of his photos, and it didn’t take me long to figure out that she wasn’t just a passing phase. He was smitten with her, and it was obvious.

By the time I came to that realization that the blonde with the big blue eyes had won him over, I had also been won over by someone and had moved on, too.

At that point, I only checked his social media once a month just simply out of habit or curiosity. It no longer made me sick to do so, and, if anything, it made me feel almost happy.

I had watched him grow and evolve without me, and I was OK with that because I had done the same without him.

I realize now that, although my initial intention was to keep tabs on someone who so irrevocably broke me, watching him live his life with me no longer in it helped the reality of the situation ring clear in my brain: We were no more.

I needed that weekly, and sometimes daily, reminder so I could push through my broken heart syndrome and pain, and move on in my own way.

As they say, the truth will set you free, but, of course, that's only after it breaks your heart.

RELATED: 6 Major Social Media Rules To Follow After A Bad Breakup

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Amanda Chatel is a writer who divides her time between NYC and Paris. She's a regular contributor to Bustle and Glamour, with bylines at Harper's Bazaar, The Atlantic, Forbes, Livingly, Mic, The Bolde, Huffington Post, and others. Follow her on Twitter or Facebook for more.