Following a break up, 88% of dumped lovers use Facebook to spy on their ex, and 80% even cyber stalk their ex’s new love. This is according to research by a university student in Canada, who carried out a series of interviews for her college thesis.
“I wanted to see how breakup distress is related to Facebook use,” said Veronika Lukacs, whose thesis is called It’s Complicated: Romantic Breakups and their Aftermath on Facebook.
“What I found was that whether you were on Facebook all the time or not, your distress level changed based on how much surveillance you were doing (post break-up).”
Veronika also found that many people also re-read and analyse their previous Facebook messages and wall posts and maybe delete pictures of them with their partners in happier times.
Lukacs’ research surveyed people who’d broken up with a boyfriend or girlfriend in the past 12 months. She started with the assumption that Facebook increased post break-up stress, and her survey seems to prove this theory because instead of moving on, the ability to cyber stalk an ex and their new love prolongs the pain.
“The more surveillance there was, the more distress there was, but it’s difficult to say why,” Lukacs said. “Does surveillance make you more distressed, or are you distressed so you do more surveillance? My hunch is that it’s a bit of both.”
Facebook has added a tricky dimension to a breakup, one where people have to change their relationship status and encounter an ex’s smiling face in pictures posted on a mutual friend’s wall.
And a solution isn’t as simple as deleting an ex from your friend list, Lukacs’ research found.
“Deleting seemed to be really effective but it depends on the severity of your creeping behaviour. Some people are active Facebook creepers and seek out information while others are affected by what comes up on their news feed.”
One piece of advice rang true throughout her study: People should change their Facebook password post-break-up. Several survey subjects admitted to hacking into their ex’s profiles, or being hacked themselves.
- 48% of people remained friends with their exs on Facebook.
- 88% creeped their exs.
- 70% used a mutual friend’s profile or logged in as a mutual friend to creep their ex.
- 74% tried to creep an ex’s new partner or suspected new partner.
- 64% said they re-read or analyzed old messages from their ex.
- 50% deleted pictures of their ex from their profile.
- 31% posted pictures to try to make their ex jealous.
- 33% posted a song lyric or quote about their ex as their status.
- 52% said they were jealous of a picture their ex posted.