Over a year ago, I went on a handful of dates with a man. I ended it – it clearly wasn’t working for either of us – and swiftly unfollowed him on Instagram.
I assumed he’d do the same. But after all this time, he still watches my stories and likes my posts. I find it a little strange.
Although, at least he’s watching on out in the open.
If you’ve noticed you’ve gained followers with no picture and no obvious name, they could be ‘burner’ accounts, set up by exes to keep tabs on people without being identified.
Many of us are guilty of looking up an ex online from time to time, but is maintaining a faded digital “connection” to bygone lovers actually doing us any good?
Hayley Queen, dating expert for Match, says it’s ‘rarely helpful’ to keep seeing content from these people.
‘It’s become common dating etiquette for people to add one another on social media, before or after a first date, even if they never go on any further dates,’ she says.
‘This can create an “ex” backlog of people you almost had a romance with on social media, all the way through to “real” exes who you used to be in a relationship with.
‘Both of these kinds of exes can be painful to stay in touch with.
‘If it was a former partner, you might get uncomfortable updates of how great their life is without you in it.
‘If it was a near miss date, then you might see them sail off into the sunset with someone else, and be left wondering why they didn’t choose you.’
Sometimes relationships break down and make way for genuine friendships, however a lot of the time seeing your ex online may bring up painful memories.
And as Hayley reminds us ‘people also tend to put their “highlights reel” on social media’.
‘This means you may only see an edited version of the best version of their lives, which can make you feel inadequate by comparison,’ she says.
The mental repercussions of both of these ends of the spectrum aren’t ideal, and frankly, isn’t your life better and easier without them?
Whenever I see the aforementioned past date, I’m reminded of how uncomfortable I was on those dates. Maybe it’s time I removed him from following me, seeing as he isn’t going to do it.
Hayley says cutting ties is good for keeping your mind focused on the present – whether you’re dating someone new, are in a committed relationship, or are single.
‘In order to feel ready and open to meeting new people, it can help you to feel like you’ve closed the door on previous relationships,’ she explains.
‘Removing people from your follower list may help you to move on and get into the right frame of mind to be ready to meet someone new.’
Clinging onto the past never helped anyone.
How to do an ex audit
- Whether it’s exes, or just accounts you generally follow online, only look at content that lifts you emotionally.
- If you find the worst parts of you coming out when you see an account online, don’t follow it and remove it.
- If you genuinely feel neutral about an ex, or they’ve become a friend, it’s fine to stay in touch; but be honest with yourself whether this is truly where you’re at emotionally.
- In lots of cases it will be more loving to yourself to remove them.
- If you haven’t spoken in ages there’s no need to feel bad in removing someone – put your own social wellbeing first.
- For the ones that really hurt, block them so you’re not tempted to stalk.
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