The Scary Thing ‘Hate-Following’ Your Ex Reveals About Your Personality


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Korin Miller; Photography by Unsplash

Um, that was a shocker…

We’ve all been there: You go through a break-up and somehow you just never got around to unfollowing or unfriending your ex. That, or you totally want to keep tabs on them (hey, no judgment).

Why we do it

Sometimes, checking in on your ex on social media can make you feel pretty damn good about where you are in life, especially when they look (a) miserable or (b) less attractive than they used to. If they start posting about how much it sucks to be single, then jackpot, baby!

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It sounds awful, but clinical psychologist Suzana Flores, author of Facehooked: How Facebook Affects Our Emotions, Relationships, and Lives, says most of us do it.

But revelling in someone else’s misfortune is probably not the best use of our time or emotional energy.

What it says about us

First of all, it provides a sense of validation, says Flores. If things didn’t end on a good note, it can give us a feeling that our ex is unhappy because of our break-up – even if that has nothing to do with the status quo.

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Hate-following an ex doesn’t exactly say great things about us, either, says Fran Walfish, a relationship psychotherapist. “It feeds that little bit of narcissism in all of us – the wish and hope that ‘I am the best and only one for him, and without me he is diminished or can’t survive,’” she says.

If the relationship ended because you both realised it wasn’t working out, following your ex on social media is no biggie, says Flores.

“Remaining fixated on an ex’s suffering will inevitably only prolong your own suffering,” says Flores. “It’s best to try to focus on yourself and your own happiness.”

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How to move on

So should you immediately ditch your ex on social media after a break-up? It depends on where you’re coming from.

“If the relationship was abusive or toxic and maintaining any level of connection with this person will cause you harm, I recommend blocking them – that’s why social media implemented this feature,” says Flores. “If, however, the relationship ended in a way that honours mutual respect, understanding and friendship, then following your ex is not only appropriate but also sends the message that you can maintain a friendship with your ex post break-up.”

Bottom line: It’s better to block them. It’s way less entertaining, but you’ll be better off because of it.

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