A few months ago, we wrote about how Facebook is making it easier to remove exes from your Facebook feeds. But Facebook can’t stop you from stalking your ex’s profile — and unfortunately, that can be a very unhealthy habit.

According to psychologist Tara Marshall, a third of people Facebook-stalk their current romantic partner “very often,” and a similar number said they Facebook stalked an ex at least once a week. Dr. Marshall conducted a study on whether Facebook stalking was associated with attachment anxiety and avoidance, and she found that, yes, those who Facebook stalk are more anxious about their current and former relationships. And it makes it really hard to get over an ex.

“I’ve found that people with an anxious attachment style – that is, those with low self-esteem, a fear of rejection, and greater jealousy in relationships – are more likely to Facebook stalk current and ex-partners. They may monitor their Facebook profiles to feel close to them, and to identify or ward off any threats from real or imagined romantic rivals,” she writes for the Independent.

Facebook stalking your ex can lead to distress over the breakup and feelings of hostility, but also to “protracted longing” and sexual desire. That’s when it becomes really sticky. You broke up with this person for a reason. But having them on your radar makes them seem familiar again, meaning you might find yourself subconsciously wanting to be in a relationship with them again, even when you really don’t. This can lead to some problematic behaviors when it comes to exes, and studies have shown that people who Facebook stalk their exes are six times more likely to pursue unwanted intimacy with them, which can include trying to get in touch, approaching them, or sending gifts. All of these behaviors can become a dangerously addictive habit, and may be perceived as threatening to your ex or IRL stalking. In fact, Dr. Marshall concludes that Facebook stalking an ex is a symptom of Facebook addiction, which is characterized by excessive Facebook use, feelings of withdrawal when away from it, and use of Facebook to the degree that it interferes with academic and social success.

So do yourself a favor, and when you break up with someone, try to avoid their profiles, and their online activities. Trust us, it’ll save you a lot of heartache in the long run.

This post was originally published on Teen Vogue.

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