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What motivates ‘Facebook stalking’ after a romantic breakup?

What motivates 'Facebook stalking' after a romantic breakup?

Social networking makes it easy to monitor the status and activities of a former romantic partner, an often unhealthy use of social media known as interpersonal electronic surveillance (IES) or, more commonly, “Facebook stalking.” Psychological and relationship factors and how individuals cope with the termination of a romantic relationship can help predict their use of online surveillance, according to a new study.

In the article, researchers report that individuals who were most distressed by a breakup were most likely to monitor their ex-partners online. This behavior could make it more difficult for them to recover.

In the study, the authors evaluated associations between factors such as attachment (anxious versus avoidant attachment), investment in the relationship, level of commitment, responsibility for termination of the relationship, emotional distress after the breakup, and seeking relationship alternatives.

“Since stress may trigger problematic internet use, psychologists may wish to assess for increased usage by their patients during periods of stress, such as a relationship’s dissolution,” says Editor-in-Chief Brenda K. Wiederhold, PhD, MBA, BCB, BCN, Interactive Media Institute, San Diego, California and Virtual Reality Medical Institute, Brussels, Belgium.

Fox, J., & Tokunaga, R. (2015). Romantic Partner Monitoring After Breakups: Attachment, Dependence, Distress, and Post-Dissolution Online Surveillance via Social Networking Sites Cyberpsychology, Behavior, and Social Networking, 18 (9), 491-498 DOI: 10.1089/cyber.2015.0123

4 responses

  1. You make no mention of the women who stalk OW (other women), the ones their husbands had affairs with. This is a HUGE use of Facebook.


    September 24, 2015 at 2:24 pm

  2. Naa Abena Gyapomaah

    After a painful breakup, there is what is popularly called the closure phase. Any person who claim to not have closure tend to stalk the ex-partner to satisfy his/her own curiosity. I believe that the need to keep up with the life of the ex-partner is fueled by a motivation mechanism similar to that of hunger. To stalkers, any information about a target or victim is to satisfy the emotional hunger brought upon by a negative event.
    Even though I do agree that social media may prolong the pain felt after a breakup, some people who are emotionally unstable need that time to gracefully come to the terms of their new relationship status. To them, the value of stalking is to attain emotional stability.


    September 27, 2015 at 4:14 pm

    • I can see where you are coming from with that, I think part of it is also an addiction and withdrawal sort of response. But yeah, social media definitely makes that pain linger. Assuming of course the person uses social media, but statistically it would be a safe bet.


      September 28, 2015 at 3:56 pm

  3. Lily

    This is exactly what makes me not to post too much information about myself at any social network, although it may sound strange nowadays. And I also sometimes use blacklists if I want some special person not to see anything from my Facebook page.


    October 9, 2015 at 1:39 am

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