According to research by Western University, people who break up are likely to follow their ex on Facebook. In the thesis called It’s Complicated: Romantic breakups and their aftermath on Facebook a vast majority of people engaged in behavior that included re-reading old messages (64 percent), deleting photos of you and your ex (50 percent), and even looking at your ex’s posts and those you think might be dating them now (74 percent).
“I wanted to see how breakup distress is related to Facebook use,” said Veronika Lukacs, who wrote the Masters thesis.”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).”
Lukacs had the hypothesis that Facebook increased post-breakup distress, which proved true often because of so-called “creeping” checking out an ex-partners profile to check up on what they were doing. Lukacs found that 88 percent of respondents creeped their ex’s page, and 80 percent looked up their ex’s new partner or suspected new partner.
“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.”
There’s also an added dimension if you and your ex have mutual friends, as you’ll still see their posts around on content from other people. The 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 behavior,” Lukacs said. “Some people are active Facebook creepers and seek out information while others are affected by what comes up on their news feed.”
There’s a stigma attached to deleting a friend on Facebook, putting on extra pressure. She noted that people should always change their Facebook password post-break-up as several survey subjects admitted to hacking into their ex’s profiles, or being hacked themselves.
Other results from the study said that 48 percent of people remained friends with their exs on Facebook, 33 percent posted a song lyric or quote about their ex as their status, and 31 percent posted pictures to try to make their ex jealous while 52 percent said they were jealous of a picture their ex posted.