Breaking Up Is Hard To View

Tracy Clark-Flory rounds up the science-proven unhealthiness of stalking your ex from the Facebook bushes:

[A Study] by Tara C. Marshall, a psychology professor at Brunel University, found that “Facebook surveillance was associated with greater current distress over the breakup, more negative feelings, sexual desire, and longing for the ex-partner, and lower personal growth.” More surprisingly, those who stayed Facebook friends with their ex “reported less negative feelings, sexual desire, and longing for the former partner” — but they were “lower in personal growth.” Marshall suggests this may be because “unbidden exposure to the potentially banal status updates, comments, and photos of an ex-partner through remaining Facebook friends may have decreased any residual attraction to the ex-partner,” whereas defriended exes “remain shrouded in an alluring mystique.”

But lots of people do it:

If you’ve found it difficult to resist the temptation, you’re not alone. A study published last year found that more than 50 percent of respondents — all college students, mind you — reported having looked through an ex-partner’s Facebook photos in search of a snapshot of their new partner. It isn’t just surveillance, though: Around 30 percent admitted to having “posted poetry or music lyrics” in status updates “to taunt or hurt” an ex, as well as having updated their status “to make [an] ex-partner jealous.” (On a sweeter note, nearly 60 percent had posted poetry or music lyrics “to try and get back together.” No data on how well that works.)