The Scientific Reason We Stalk Our Exes After A Breakup

It all makes sense now.

sad woman looking at phone GaudiLab / shutterstock

We're all guilty of checking in on our exes on social media, especially right after a breakup.

Even if we're not interested in seeing that person ever again, curiosity gets the best of us and we can't help to check in from time to time. After all, this person may have been in your life for a significant amount of time.

Maybe we want to see if we really are better off without them, if they are dating someone new and have "downgraded," or perhaps, deep down, we are holding out hope of a reconcilation.


RELATED: 100 Breakup Quotes For Him To See Just How Much You Miss Being Together

We might even wrack our brains looking for answers as to why the relationship ended.

Was it mutual, or did actions from one or both parties lead to a split? Is our ex doing okay emotionally? Do they have a new girlfriend or boyfriend in their life?

But why do we need to know these things? Why do we stalk our ex after a breakup? Well, science has the answer.

A study from The University of Western Ontario found that 88 percent of people on Facebook tend to check in on their exes.

Considering the amount of time it takes to get over a breakup, this shouldn't seem all that shocking.


And while we might feel weird for browsing their social media, it's actually a very natural thing to do.

"We're hardwired to pay attention to other people," media psychologist Pamela Rutledge, who studies the impact of media and technology on our lives, revealed.

"Even if we broke something off, we want to fundamentally believe that no one can replace us. We want affirmation that we're valued or a good person, so we’re hoping that without us they're going to be a little bit sad or suffer a little bit," she continued.

Rutledge also said that you can stop feeling guilty about looking at your ex's page.

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


"You're not endangering someone, you're just being really curious," she added.

"Obviously, there's a fine line. If you are investing a lot of time following someone, then you probably ought to evaluate how you're spending your time. At that point, it's become totally about you. It isn't about the other person at all."

So while checking in on our exes via social media is normal and expected after a split, there does come a point where we need to take a break and focus on our own mental recooperation.

At the end of the day, we are the most important person in our lives, and we need not waste a ridiculous amount of time looking at what "could have been." Why dedicate all the time in the world to someone who probably isn't doing the same for you?


In addition, the study found that there is a tie between jealousy and time spent on Facebook.

The more information people find, the more they will want. And because of that cycle, you may end up hurting yourself worse than after getting your heartbroken.

The study also found that women are more likely to be jealous than men. But really, don't beat yourself up if you tend to linger on your ex-boyfriend's social media, ladies.

In the end, it seems like it's human nature to want to know what our exes are up to after a breakup.


But rather than dwelling in the past, we should be looking towards a brand new future for ourselves. Because no matter how devastated we are, this too shall pass.

RELATED: How Obsessively Online Stalking My Ex Helped Me Move On

Nicole Weaver is a senior writer for Showbiz Cheat Sheet whose work has been featured in New York Magazine, Teen Vogue, and more.

Editor's Note: This article was originally posted in June 2015 and was updated with the latest information.