Why This Social Media Activity, More Than Any Other, Is Really, Really Bad For You

Photo: WOSUNAN / Shutterstock
woman looking at phone

When it comes to bad breakups, we've all been there — curled up on the couch with a bottle of wine, crying while we look through internet pictures of our ex, seemingly happier without us.

The internet, for the most part, sucks for the brokenhearted.

Facebook, Twitter, and blogs provide an all-too-tempting outlet to obsess over pictures of your ex and desperately scan his status updates for any sign that he's missing you.

RELATED: 6 Signs You're In Love With Someone Who Thinks They're "Too Cool" For You

Why Facebook stalking an ex is actually really, really bad for you

According to YourTango survey, 72 percent of people have or have considered unfriending an ex on Facebook after a breakup, and 55 percent reported that it takes them months to get over a breakup. During those months, the best way to move on is to unfriend, block, and delete your ex's phone number. Yes, really.

But don't just take our word for it.

Vicki, 21, was with her boyfriend for three years before he dumped her out of the blue. She noted that breaking up with her ex online was the first important step to moving on with her life.

RELATED: 13 Signs You're His Backup Plan (Aka His Second Choice)

"I went online and unfriended him and blocked him. I deleted all his pictures from my Facebook and laptop. I couldn't go into my room because I had stuffed animals and pictures of him. My mom did me a huge favor and went into my room, and took everything that reminded me of him. This was my hardest breakup, but with time and help from family and friends, I healed. I'm now happier than ever before."

For Sabrina, 28, the breakup was less clean-cut. After discovering that her boyfriend was carrying on inappropriate conversations with a woman via Facebook chat, he broke up with her, saying that he loved the other woman more than he had loved anyone before. At first, Jennings tried to keep the relationship cordial. 

"At first we remained friends on Facebook. I thought it would be juvenile to cut ties so quickly. After all, I really had been in love, whether he felt the same or not. He had asked that we remain friends, so maybe we could work past our parting of ways. It wasn't until he began posting a constant reel of how much happier he was that I began to start feeling the sting."

RELATED: 10 Things A Good Boyfriend Won't Ask You To Do (Like, Ever)

The situation quickly devolved from there. When Jennings finally unfriended the ex on Facebook, he retaliated by asking his friends to unfriend her. Fortunately, most of their mutual friends refused to get involved.

But Jennings notes, "This unfortunate experience hasn't derailed me from becoming 'in a relationship' on social networking in the future, but it has taught me to be smarter with how soon I display my status to the world at large. I've also learned to never hesitate to defriend an ex and mutual friends immediately upon an absolute parting, and blocking if the circumstances call for it."

It may seem juvenile at first, but taking that first step and blocking, deleting, and unfollowing, your ex doesn't only help you stop obsessing, and helps you set important emotional boundaries that will prevent you from getting burned in the future.

RELATED: If One Of You Believes These 2 Things, Your Relationship Won't Last

Lyz Lenz's writing has appeared in the Huffington Post, The Washington Post, the Columbia Journalism Review, The New York Times, Pacific Standard, and others. She is a columnist for the Cedar Rapids Gazette.