As ex-lovers, we have an innate need to feel vindicated by finding out that our ex is miserable without us. In this pursuit, we make use of all resources, including technology, to stalk an ex. As much as you want to get over him/her, the ‘out of sight, out of mind’ technique does not always work.
Even though you may have no intention of getting back together with your ex, a part of you finds it hard to let go. When you’re stuck in the ‘can’t have them, can’t forget them’ loop, keeping tabs on their lives seems like the next best thing to do. Are they seeing someone? Have they moved on? Do they miss you? These questions keep whirling in your head.
So, if you have been wondering ‘why do I stalk my ex’, especially if it’s an ex you want nothing to do with again, the answer is curiosity. That said, it isn’t a healthy tendency. Let’s pay close attention to what constitutes stalking before we tell you how to stop stalking your ex.
What Is Stalking?
So, what exactly qualifies as stalking? We tend to make a lot of jokes about how we stalked our crush or our friend’s new boo on Facebook and Instagram. But the actual act of stalking is not a joke. The signs of a stalker usually involve them surveilling someone in a hidden manner to collect information about their private and personal life and affairs that they may not be willing to share with anyone, including the person doing the surveilling.
Legally speaking, stalking is a crime – and the sheer amount of unwanted attention that the stalking victim receives, no matter how “harmless” your intentions – can leave the person at the receiving end with mental and even physical scars. If someone realizes that they are or were being stalked, they will start facing difficulty handling daily affairs since they will feel watched, even when they are not.
This can cause severe anxiety, stress, depression, and executive dysfunction to the victim. Sure, not all stalkers are the same, but, the fact remains that such attention is unwanted and unwelcome and will always end up causing the victim distress, even if the victim in this case is your ex.
That being said, know that it is normal to want to know what your ex-lover is doing, who they are meeting, and whether they are in a new relationship or not. Our broken hearts and previous romantic attachment toward them may make it hard to let go. These are not really the signs of a stalker but of a broken heart.
So, checking their social media accounts sometimes, but not obsessively, is understandable. But, if you are reading this article, chances are you know you have failed to strike that balance and are constantly trying to track their movements. If this is true, it may be time for some self-introspection and friends and family intervention. But how can you be sure if you are stalking them? For this, first, you need to know the various and common forms of stalking out there.
Common Types Of Stalking
There are a few different types, levels, and signs of a stalker. If you are here reading this article because you are afraid that you are stalking your ex, chances are that you have not veered toward truly and legally criminal levels of stalking territory yet. But while not all levels and types of stalking are the same, it is still important to remember that they all tend to not only totally disrespect a person’s basic human right to privacy but can also lead to some serious repercussions for both you and the victim. So, without further ado, here is a list of a few different types of stalking out there:
1. Online stalking
Online stalking is the most common type of stalking and it usually can be restricted to a harmless level. But if you find yourself tracking down their entire activity list, where they have been, who they are hanging with, then checking the various social media of the person they were with to see where they have been tagged, and so on, you have definitely and officially crossed over from checking your ex’s Instagram as a guilty and masochistic kind of “pleasure” to officially stalking them.
2. Physically following
This is one of the more common signs you are a stalker. It is also a more threatening one. Following someone to different places is not okay, even if they are okay and even if you just wanted to see what they were doing and did not want to cause any harm. Also, this is officially illegal grounds and you could be legally charged for it.
3. Lying in wait
Apart from following another person’s movements and monitoring where they go, some signs of stalking personality include ones that involve waiting around in front of their victim’s home, office, favorite café, or anywhere they know the victim is going to be at that moment of time.
These signs of stalking are seen in those who are well-acquainted with the victims or have been stalking them for a while. Jealous ex-partners often tend to do this when they realize that their ex has been seeing someone new or in order to push them to take them back. If you have been doing these things, know that it’s one of the biggest signs you are a stalker.
4. Monitoring through others
Some ex-partners go beyond the usual methods, showing signs of stalking behavior that are harder to keep track of. They may start befriending your friends, suddenly start hanging out with mutual acquaintances, and turn up in clubs and bars your family frequents. It is one of the more classic signs of stalking.
This way, they can indirectly ask people about you to keep a tab on you, your activities, and your relationship status. Such behavior is not just obsessive but also slightly terrifying because it takes a lot of time, effort, and planning on the stalker’s part to implement such actions.
5. Threat, assault, damage
A lot of times stalkers finally break and cannot deal with just watching and monitoring anymore and tend to take more serious action. They may stop showing signs of stalking behavior entirely and refuse to stay hidden. They instead end up attacking the person they had been watching for a while, threatening the victim, breaking into their homes, and causing damage to their property in order to get their attention.
6. Camera or audio surveillance
This kind of stalking is usually trickier to do since not everyone has access to the cameras and audio devices to watch and record other people’s activities. This makes it one of the more serious kinds of stalking and an aggressive breach of the person’s right to privacy.
If you have been tracking your ex-boyfriend’s phone or have a hidden camera set up somewhere in his home, know that this is not okay and there can be some serious repercussions in such cases, from hefty fines, restraining orders to even jail time.
So, just in case you are starting to think that your obsession with your ex goes beyond the usual missing and checking social media and is bordering on stalking territory, it is time to confirm your suspicions. Pay attention to these 8 actions that indicate a tendency to stalk an ex, and if you can identify with them, you, my friend, are guilty.
Signs You Might Be Stalking Your Ex
You may have sworn to follow the no-contact rule to get over your ex, but despite this strong resolve, there are bound to be moments when you miss having them around. Or they may have been long gone from your life, but you still tend to think of them now and again.
In such moments, it is natural to be overcome with a desire to get a sneak peek into your ex’s life. Thanks to technology, doing that is easier than ever before. It takes one search to get all the dope you need on the goings-on in their life.
1. Checking their social media
Stalking your ex on social media is one of the simplest ways to keep track of their life. But one that you must be most wary of, as it can become addictive. After I broke up, I was checking my ex’s updates throughout the day. It had become an obsession for me.
I was checking his Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, etc. every now and then. As much as I wanted to forget about him, social media channels did not help me much to accomplish this. Finally, one fine day, I asked my friend to change the passwords of my Facebook and Twitter accounts and asked her not to share them with me.
It has been more than 6 years now that I am not on Facebook anymore. As for Twitter, I had to resume for work-related tasks but have managed to steer clear of my ex’s handle. Social media sites can become your foes when you want to get your mind off your ex.
2. The block-unblock WhatsApp routine
This is one of the classic signs of a stalker who keeps tabs on their ex on social media. Block them and then unblock them to see the last time they were seen online and check out their status updates. Obviously, this does not help much in forgetting your ex. After having quit social media for the longest period of time, I always kept stalking him through WhatsApp.
Checking his profile picture and sometimes even messaging him and then deleting it, made it even worse. It reached an extent where I finally deleted his number from my phonebook. Luckily enough, I did not know it by heart. So there was no going down that road again.
3. Asking mutual friends for updates
Mutual friends are a time-tested way to stalk an ex. If you have common friends, then you are surely going to get invited to social gatherings where even he/she is present. While we have the choice to not show up, our inner voices shout out to us to go. It’s a chance to find out how they are doing after the breakup, how they look, and if they’re dating someone new.
Besides, you can always fish for details about your ex’s life in conversations with your friends. Even when you know it makes them uncomfortable, it is so hard to resist a subtle mention here, a vague question there. Amirite?
4. Keep in touch with their folks
My best friend, Abhijeet, with whom I studied in London, was dating a Bulgarian girl. After graduation, she even came to India and stayed with his family for a brief period of 3 months. While the family was aware of their relationship, they were contemplating whether to continue or not. She decided that she was not going to invest more time into a relationship that did not have a future.
However, she kept in touch with his parents and would regularly Skype them. Abhijeet was not very comfortable with this, because his parents were forcing him to make a decision quickly about getting married to her. She was showing all the signs of a stalking personality. She was stalking him in the most innovative yet creepy way possible.
5. Setting your routine to match theirs
If you live in the same city, setting your routine to match theirs is one of the most predictable ways of stalking your ex in person. Let’s say, you know they go to buy groceries at a particular store every Sunday morning, so you end up there too around the same time when your ex is likely to be around.
And when they spot you, you feign total surprise and try to make small talk to get a sense of how they’re doing. Take the example of Preeti, who is a runner. She used to run on the hillocks (called “tekadi” in Marathi) of Pune, in the evening, where often her ex would be seen. She started going to the tekadi at times when he would go for his jog. Often she would find him there, but she would pretend that she had not seen him and continue running with her earphones plugged in.
6. Follow them around to a new city
This is creep level 100 when it comes to stalking your ex in person. If you’re ready to uproot your life and follow a person with whom you have no future prospects, it points to an unhealthy obsession. Mark was dating a girl for six months and then they decided to split. The girl moved to a new city.
A few months later, Mark resigned from his job in order to relocate to the same city. When I asked him about his decision to relocate he said that he wanted to be sure that there couldn’t be a future with her even after breaking up, by finding out if she was happy or miserable without him. As if stalking your ex on social media was not enough, he decided to uproot his reasonably comfortable life only to start everything from scratch in a new city.
7. Mystery calling
In the age of smartphones and caller ID apps with a database running into millions, this may be a little hard to pull off. Besides, this way to stalk an ex is pathetic and creepy all at the same time. But, as they say, where there is a will, there is a way.
For instance, Sally and Will broke up after a long relationship of two years. Sally could not resist hearing her ex’s voice and would have her friends give him calls and put the phone on speaker. She would often make judgments from the tone of his voice if he was happy, sad, or indifferent.
8. Creating a fake profile online
This is the pinnacle of stalking your ex on social media but people are willing to go to such lengths just to keep tabs on their former lover’s life. I have seen people create fake profiles on Facebook and add their exes as friends to keep track of their life’s happenings. Often you’ll see people create profiles of the opposite gender to divert suspicion.
Related Reading: 11 Practical Tips To Get Over Someone Fast
How To Stop Stalking Your Ex
To detach yourself from an old lover is not easy any longer. If you’re not over them, you will find ways to get back into their lives somehow, and stalking helps you understand where the most opportune opening may lie. Even if you’re over them, it gives a sense of pleasure in a very sadist way to know if they have not moved on yet.
While stalking an ex may be commonplace, especially in today’s technology-driven world, it is certainly not healthy. So, if you grapple with questions like ‘why do I still stalk my ex?’ or ‘why can’t I stop myself from stalking an ex?’ we’re here to help. Here are some fool-proof tips on how to stop stalking your ex that will put an end to this loop you’re caught in:
1. Go on a deleting rampage
To stop the tendency to stalk an ex, you have to erase their presence from your life. Delete their phone number, email, unfollow, unfriend, and block them on social media. And also delete all your pictures, if any, from your own social media handles. Those ‘memories’ updates can hurt like hell and make you spiral down the stalking hole all over again.
2. Seek tough love
Instead of feeling miserable thinking ‘why do I still stalk my ex?’, lean on a trusted friend for help. Ask them to dole out some tough love whenever you’re falling back to your old patterns. You can even ask them to take over your social media and share only the relevant stuff with you until you can let go of the urge to keep tabs on an ex’s life.
Related Reading: 10 Signs He Is Still In Love With His Ex
3. Set up a stalk jar
If you live with a friend or a roommate, ask them to set up a stalk jar for you where you put a $10 bill every time you stalk your ex. If you live alone, you can do this by yourself. But remember to be honest. Once you feel the pinch in your pocket, stalking may not seem so appealing after all.
4. Keep yourself busy
We tend to stalk an ex because losing a relationship means losing an important part of your life all of a sudden. To fill that void, keep yourself busy. Throw yourself into work, follow a new hobby, reconnect with friends – do whatever it takes to keep your mind off that person you’ve just had to let go of.
5. Get back on the dating scene
While you shouldn’t rush into dating after a breakup, it doesn’t make sense to live in the past too. Once you’ve taken the time to grieve your relationship and process all the hurt and angst, put yourself out there. The prospect of finding someone new will take your mind off your ex.
Stalking an ex is a lot like picking the scab off a wound. It just delays the natural order of healing and moving on. If you identify with the signs of stalking in your behavior toward your ex, start taking corrective measures before you spiral down the rabbit hole of obsession.
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No, it is not healthy to stalk your ex. Even if you do miss your ex because you were with them for a long time, stalking is never a good or healthy option. It can not only get you in serious legal trouble but also keep you from truly moving on.
Stalking your ex, especially if you do it excessively, keeps you trapped in the past. Besides, you may come across as needy and desperate.
You can start by erasing their presence from your life, leaning on a friend for support, keeping yourself busy, and ultimately, getting back on the dating scene.
Looking at your ex’s social media can bring back the feelings of hurt and anger, and undo any progress you’ve made in moving on