Time To Move On: How To Avoid The Ghosts Of Boyfriends Past

Whether he was your Facebook official boyfriend, the love of your life (or so you imagined), or a dude you were sorta casually dating for a while but weren’t that into, once you break up, it’s entirely possible that he’s still haunting you. The worst part about any break-up, no matter how serious it was, is seeing an ex all over social media right after it’s over. It makes it difficult to move on when he’s still haunting you, popping up at bars nearby or posting about a new (but way worse) version of you. You can’t help but wonder if he’s happier without you, and you need to show him that you definitely are. Then, there’s the race to see who wins the break-up. While you don’t want to spend days stalking, you also don’t want to unfriend him, because then he can’t see how good you are.

Here’s how to avoid falling into a dark hole of social media stalking your exes without saying goodbye completely.

  1. Unfollow instead of un-friending.There’s no reason to unfriend an ex — that just makes you seem petty. Plus, aren’t you just the teeniest bit curious what he’s up to? Un-friending means that he can’t see how fabulous your life is without him in it.
  2. Step away from the laptop.Just because you don’t unfriend him doesn’t mean you should sit at your laptop without moving, Alanis Morissette on repeat, while you wait for the first shot of him with a new girl to come up (mostly so you have someone new to stalk). Unfollow, stop staring, and eventually you won’t feel physically ill whenever he appears on your social media feed.
  3. Do not engage. Once he realizes that he went wrong, it’s most likely that he’ll start seriously creeping on you. This most often happens the very second you move on, when his douchebag senses start tingling. Maybe you just said yes to a date, or maybe you finally found someone you actually like. No matter what it is, your ex can sense it and will immediately start texting, sexting, and liking all of your vaguely inappropriate Instagram photos in the middle of the night, because that’s not creepy. When this happens (and it will), do not even think about engaging.
  4. Don’t convince yourself that his social media stalking means that he’s ready to get back together.Don’t like his Instagram photos or attempt to stay up to date on all of his Facebook activity, because you don’t need to see his networking happy hour RSVPs for the rest of eternity. Just because he’s looking at your cleavage shots late at night doesn’t mean you’re miraculously getting back together and it most certainly does not mean that he’s suddenly working out his intimacy issues. It just means he’s bored, horny, and probably didn’t mean to like your post from 36 weeks back, which incidentally coincides to when he was dating his last girlfriend.
  5. Get your revenge posts out of the way early. The second you break up (even if you weren’t really dating), it makes sense that you would want your social media to be 100. Find the cutest guy in sight and pose for a picture with him (even if he’s a stranger). Post about where you are every second (but only if it’s somewhere amazing). Show him that you’re having the most fun ever, because eventually you actually will be.
  6. Don’t cyberstalk his new girl. Of course you’re allowed to figure out who she is so you’re not left wondering if she’s better than you (spoiler alert: she isn’t). But whatever you do, don’t let yourself become scarily obsessed with her. You don’t need to know where she went to middle school, and you definitely don’t need to know what her ex looks like.
  7. Move on completely.While this step is obviously much easier in theory, the second you’re actually over him you won’t be actively stalking his social media. Unfortunately, this part means you really need to start dating. Once you’re into someone else (in a real way, not a rebound), you won’t care that he seems to be Tinder-ing the entire state. So, feel free to check in from time to time to make sure that his hairline is still receding, but don’t let yourself look so often that he’s the first person to come up on your newsfeed.
Margaret is a freelance writer who covers pop culture and fashion in New York City and currently writes for Page Six's Style section. Her work has been featured in Teen Vogue, xoJane, and Racked. She tweets about her crippling caffeine addiction and teen TV obsession here: @margaretabrams