Why it’s Time to Stop Snooping on Your Ex Online

Young adults are having a hard time moving on post breakup.

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A new report from the Pew Research Center finds nearly half (47%) of twentysomethings, ages 18-to-29, admit to “checking up” on their exes on social media, including Facebook (NASDAQ: FB). Only 31% of this same age group say they post details or pictures from a date. Those ages 30 to 49 were checking up on exes less frequently at 31%, compared to 16% of those ages 50 to 64, and 7% of those aged 65 and up.

It can be understandable that former flames would want to know what their exes are up to, but dating experts say this habit can make it harder to move on.

The popularity of cyber snooping on exes has grown because it’s easy to do and doesn’t leave a paper trail, says dating coach Donna Barnes.

“The lure is just overpowering because it’s just so easy,” Barnes says. “There is hope that you will feel better if you do this, but it rarely has that feeling.” She adds that most exes aren’t looking to make sure the other person is faring well,  and it’s more about a competition to see who appears to be in the lead post-breakup.

“People play games intentionally posting things solely for their ex to see, hoping they are still looking and will see it,” she says. “It is really destructive, and I always tell my clients not to do this. You can’t move on if you are still focused on this. It’s not pleasant information; you will probably see the love of your life married someone else. You keep yourself addicted to that person.”

The amount of time we spend in front of a computer makes it tempting to do a quick search on a former significant other, so Barnes offers some simple advice to tale away the enticement:  de-friend all exes.

For those that still have the urge, think about what would happen if the person found out about the actions. Barnes says if checking up couldn’t be done anonymously, most people wouldn’t do it.

“I think people take comfort in the fact that they can look at someone’s page and that person will have no idea,” she says. “There is safety in anonymity.”