Social Media Stalking: 9 Ways To Track Him Down (And Why You Shouldn’t)

The term “social media stalking” doesn’t really sound great, but let’s get real: who isn’t guilty of checking out their romantic interests via social media? And what good is Facebook if we can’t peek into the lives of our exes every once in awhile? To keep your dignity while stalking a guy or girl on social media, it’s important to know your limits and remember that you shouldn’t be creepy. I mean, you are creepy, but at least you know it. Try to temper the crazy slightly, though.

The basic steps of social media stalking

  1. If you have access to his profile, check out everything he’s made visible. If his profile is public, go nuts – he obviously is if his stuff isn’t set to ‘friends only’. I mean, it’s 2015. He has to know about privacy settings by now, right? Facebook came out about a billion years ago, and I don’t think it’s going anywhere. Get in the game, ex.
  2. Check out your mutuals. If you’re searching for the dude your coworker decided to set you up with this Saturday, ditch the “blind” in blind date, and totally scope him out beforehand. See if you have any mutual friends. If you do, think about whether or not you actually like those mutual friends, or if you just friended them out of boredom. If any of these mutuals ever wore one of those black shirts with the flame design and considers Guy Fieri an actual chef, you might want to cancel ahead of time. See? You’ve figured out his personality before you even had to leave the house.
  3. Go to Google. Type his name in quotes and see what comes up. Obviously a “John Smith” will be a lot harder to find than “River Fantalamiglia”, so you’re in luck if he’s got a weird name. (For the record, I don’t personally know anyone named River Fantalamiglia. Yet.) The boring stuff will be about how he scored a goal in a high school soccer game. The interesting information will be court documents.  The really interesting stuff will be something you’ll probably need to call the police about.

The advanced steps of social media stalking

  1. Use Google’s “search by image” feature for online dates. This is how Nev Schulman catches most of his catfish. Take that profile image and make sure it’s not lifted from some weird MySpace page of a failed, foreign boy band. Stalking is definitely a smart move in this case.
  2. Search for news related to the things in his life. Remember Step #3? If you want to go above and beyond, try to search by individual details you find. If he went to Florida State, see if you can access their newspapers. It’s possible he was quoted in some story about how they renamed their gymnasium or something. Do you really need to know these things? No, but as with most information you glean from social media stalking, you’ll still want to know it anyway.
  3. Find his family on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. You saw his family’s Christmas photos — might as well see what they’re like, right? Interesting. he has a younger sister who’s a big fan of Drake. Maybe you should figure out where she hangs out after school, wear a Drake shirt, and hope she comments on it. From there, you can ask if her brother is seeing anyone. Does Drake even have a lot of tour shirts? Well, you’re desperate… and have a bunch of old puff paint in case you need to DIY.

The downright terrifying (read: unhinged) steps of social media stalking

  1. Find out where he works, and call for his schedule. I mean, if he didn’t want people to know, he wouldn’t have put it on there, right? If he’s not working a typical 9-to-5, call to see when he’ll be in next. I mean, dropping in on someone while they’re in their professional environment was totally cool when you were a high school sophomore. What changed between then and now? Everything?
  2. Search every dating site for his typical online handle. When people find a handle, they typically stick with it. It usually means they’re too lazy to get creative, or they’ve settled on the identity of “MooNDragoN69”. How does he describe himself in his profiles? Is he accurate? Does he mention you?
  3. Chat to him under an alias. If you’re doing these things, you might decide to take it to the next level. Create your own profile (maybe under “MooNUniCorn7” or something so it’ll get his attention) and chat with him under that alias. See if he uses the same techniques he used to land you and make sure to ask him what went wrong in his last relationship. Hopefully he won’t say anything like, “My ex-girlfriend stalked my sister at the pizza parlor,” or “I’m pretty sure my private photo of my family is her computer desktop image.” If he does, obviously you’re not too great at this.

How to stop social media stalking when you realize it’s gone too far

While looking up an ex or a guy you like online to see what his deal is can be totally harmless, it’s important to recognize when you’ve crossed the line into inappropriate, scary, and potentially dangerous territory.

  1. Recognize that you have a problem. Roughly 40% of people say they’re at least somewhat addicted to social media. In other words, you’re not alone in your fixation with this form of technology. What’s worse is that young single women are the most addicted of all, according to a study published in Science Direct. That’s why it’s so important to be able and willing to look at your behavior and admit when you have an issue.
  2. Consider the effects it has on you. In addition to allowing you to consider obsessing over another person in an extremely unhealthy way, social media stalking can also have a seriously detrimental effect on your health. According to research, more than 40% of young adults say that their sleep has been adversely affected by social media while 34% say they suffer from serious FOMO because of it. Not only this, but social media can destroy relationships, with some research suggesting it accounts for one in three divorces these days.
  3. Limit your time online. You can’t participate in social media stalking if you’re not on social media, right? Set a hard limit for the amount of time you can spend online, which will automatically translate to less time spent checking on your crush’s/ex’s social media activity. From there, you might find that you have better things to look at during the time you have, such as catching up with the news, your favorite bands’ posts, etc.
  4. If all else fails, seek help. If you find that you really can’t stop your social media stalking ways, you may need to call in the professionals. There are therapists and psychologists who focus specifically on breaking social media addiction and can help you address the impulses that drive your behavior. Don’t be ashamed about seeking their help. You’ll be doing the best thing possible for yourself and the object of your social media stalking.
Karen Belz is a New Jersey native who is currently living in Maryland. She has written for sites like LittleThings, Bustle, and Scary Mommy. When she's not writing, she enjoys making her phone run out of memory after taking too many photos of her dog. You can find her on Twitter @karenebelz