Up in Smoke: Social Media Break-Ups

By Vanessa Butler

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We’ve all done it, and we’d wager it’s one of your number-one taboo uses of social media: keeping tabs on past lovers, especially if the breakup is still fresh in your mind. Even though we know it’s bad for us, a study entitled “Facebook Surveillance of Former Romantic Partners: Associations with PostBreakup Recovery and Personal Growth” has now confirmed that it’s nowhere near helpful to monitor the lives of ex-lovers.

The study researched and collected 464 people’s usage of the social media site. Some continued to contact their ex-partner, and others would surveil their Facebook posts with no actual online contact at all. The researchers collected data on participants’ negative feelings, sexual desire for the partner and emotional longing, as well as feelings related to distress and personal growth.

“Notably, frequent monitoring of an ex-partner’s Facebook page and list of friends, even when one was not a Facebook friend of the ex-partner, was associated with greater current distress over the breakup, negative feelings, sexual desire, longing for the ex-partner, and lower personal growth,” explained the study released last month. “These findings suggest that continued online exposure to an ex-romantic partner may inhibit postbreakup recovery and growth, even after accounting for the contribution of offline exposure and well-established personality and relational predictors.”

Being friends with ex-lovers is a slippery slope. There are some cases in which remaining Facebook friends doesn’t provoke negative feelings, and over time the sexual attraction just kind of dies off. But if you can see yourself checking up on her, we say cut the ties.

“This study sees again virtual life mirroring real life. Just as real life contact with ex-partners may inhibit growth, healing, and well-being, so may virtual contact,” explained Brenda K. Wiederhold, editor and chief of the journal. We’ll drink to that.

Read more sex facts here.


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