11 Scientific Reasons People Stalk Their Exes After A Breakup

You might not think you’re a stalker, but if you check up on your ex regularly and follow their lives like you’re still in it, you’re kind of guilty of this behavior. Many of us are, but why do we do it? Also, what causes more serious stalking? Read on to find out. We’ll start with four subtle stalker tendencies that are no big deal and continue with the legit stalker behaviors.

  1. Morbid curiosity Maybe you don’t want to get back with your ex, you’re just a bit curious to see what he’s doing in his life and who he’s dating. It’s totally harmless. This is the type of “stalking” we’ve all done at least once in our lifetimes. Research has found that 88% of people stalk their exes on FB. Eventually, this exercise will get old and you’ll move on with your life.
  2. The need for closure You might be checking up on your ex’s social media profiles because you want some reason why the relationship ended. Maybe you want to see if he’s moved on with someone else right away, which would alert you to the fact that he had her on the side, waiting in the wings while you were in a relationship.
  3. Bruised Ego While that sounds hectic, it’s really not. You were dating your ex for a while and you want to see that he hasn’t forgotten about you in the blink of a breakup. Checking his Facebook timeline or his Instagram account for any signs that he’s heartbroken might be the ego stroke you need after a traumatic breakup.
  4. Addiction As you know, being in love is similar to being on drugs. When you feel love, dopamine is released in the brain, and the more dopamine you experience the more of it you will want. This doesn’t stop when your relationship ends. So, you might be checking up on your ex because you’re still chasing that love high. In a study, when researchers showed people pics of their exes and took MRI scans of their brains, they found neural activity in the areas of the brain linked to craving and addiction.
  5. Inability to handle Rejection This can make you want to monitor your ex as a way of controlling your feelings of rejection. But, legit stalkers take it a step further. They share the trait of not being able to handle “no.” So, they will continue to try to get in touch with someone even though they are always rejected. It’s also worth knowing that many stalkers tend to be lonely and/or have social incompetence.
  6. Fantasy Stalkers have a sense of entitlement. They believe their object of affection belongs to them (creepy), and they can be so stuck on the idea that they’re meant to be together that they won’t be able to face the reality of the situation. This is also why some stalkers will have imaginary relationships in their heads that have nothing to do with reality.
  7. Suffering from a Psychological disorder Some stalkers have personality issues, like a borderline personality disorder, which causes them to battle to let go of their previous relationship. They might also use manipulation to try to control their exes as a result of this.
  8. Obsession What’s known as a “simple obsessional” stalker is the most common type. This type of stalker tends to be male and will focus his attention on an ex. Interestingly, the stalking behavior usually begins during the relationship. What causes it? The stalker might feel that he’s been mistreated by the victim.
  9. Anger In a study, when stalkers were asked what motivated them to stalk their victims, 36% said it was done out of anger and spite. So, the stalker could feel enraged at being rejected or dumped and wants to retaliate. Scary stuff!
  10. The desire for Control In the same study, 32% of stalkers said that they had a need for control. This makes sense, as being dumped can make a person feel helpless. While someone without stalker tendencies might check out their ex-lover’s Facebook or Instagram for a few days during the breakup to satisfy that need for control, someone who’s a stalker will want to exert their control on the victim and won’t back down.
  11. Mental illness We’ve already mentioned how some stalkers have psychological disorders which cause them to stalk, but many also have mental illnesses, such as depression and substance abuse. Interestingly, most stalkers don’t have delusions or hallucinations, though.
Giulia Simolo is a writer from Johannesburg, South Africa with a degree in English Language and Literature. She has been working as a journalist for more than a decade, writing for sites including AskMen, Native Interiors, and Live Eco. You can find out more about her on Facebook and LinkedIn, or follow her on Twitter @GiuliaSimolo.