How to stop stalking your ex on social media (or quitting whatever obsession you have)

For quite a while I was stalking my ex. Actually each of them. Actually I was not only stalking my ex-girlfriends, I was also stalking my ex-colleagues for quite a while (hi, peoples, social media makes that easy :D ).

I thought that’s my personal problem until I’ve realized (after googling) that’s what a lot of people do.

As neurological study suggests, staring at a photo of your ex, triggers reward systems in your brain regardless of whether one is happily or unhappily in love. So first thing is to stop worrying. You’re normal.

Probably each of us was going trough this a number of times, so below are the tricks I’ve learned. Don’t forget to share yours ^_^

Possible approaches

1. The deadline

The idea is to allow yourself to monitor your ex’es activity for quite a while and then quit. Similarly to “quitting smoking tomorrow” this won’t work just because there always will be another tomorrow. Also why wait with this?

I’ve tried this a number of times, also observed my friends doing this with little to no success. I don’t think this is a worthwhile method as it’s often ending up with a lot of guilt to carry for not making it.

2. Blacklist / unfriend

I’ve never tried this mostly because of the consequences I was afraid of. We share a lot of friends and blacklisting people would probably lead to our common friends asking what forced me to do so.

Even if social pressure is not a problem for you, other people reminding you of your ex is something which probably won’t really help to let them go.

Also this one is hard to apply to other obsessions – how do I blacklist alcohol?

3. Sandbagging

I’ve learned this trick from my favorite procrastinatolog doctor’s blog.

The idea is to continue with your obsessions but make it slightly less convenient. E.g. in case of Facebook:

  • Delete mobile app
  • Log off from the desktop browsers
  • Use only mobile versions of the mobile apps (e.g. –> no notifications!
  • Remove browser icon from the main screen so you have to look for it
  • Also for Facebook I use News Feed Eradicator plugin for Chrome which hides the most dangerous part from me

Generalizing it further, in this method you reverse engineer tricks the product developers use to make your obsession closer to you and sandbag these.

For more ways you’re tricked to use apps more you can read How Technology Hijacks People’s Minds (this click can cost you 20 minutes of your life :D )

4. Conscious one

The idea here is not to expect anything from yourself and just observe what do you feel / think about when doing the thing you’d like to quit doing.

Good thing is that you’ll learn about yourself and your obsession more. Also it’s the most guilt free of the techniques here. Thus I recommend it as a healthy addition to the other attempts.

Bad thing is that quitting may be postponed indefinitely. But why bother about that while you’re learning?

5. Realize that you’re already there

My TLDR of Allen Carr’s books (helping with quitting smoking, overeating, …) is basically: you’re already there. At the moment you’re reading my article and not doing the thing you’re quitting, so you’re a free person.

Your next step is to realize that you’re already good and enjoy this state (pretty much like ‘conscious one’ but paying attention to what it feels like to be free of the obsession).

Common problem: comebacks

One thing you should know about me before reading this further is that I’m a kind of professional quitter. I quit smoking (I guess 6th time now :D), quit adding sugar to my tea, quit computer games, quit unhealthy relationships, …, you name it.

Thus I can generalize that there are two modes of quitting:

  1. quitting to let go of something because it’s ‘bad’
  2. quitting to make some room for the stuff you’d like to pull into your life

Quick experiment: try keeping your mind clean of all thoughts for a while and then try to think about whatever you’d like to have soon (I thought about yachting or burritos).

In my case nurturing an idea I like (2nd thing) works much better than keeping a piece of my mind clean of anything.

In my case most of the methods from the above were following the 1st approach. It’s ‘bad’ so I’ll quit it. Once my willpower was depleted, I usually was able to negotiate with myself and ‘bad’ things became ‘decent’ and there I was again following my obsessions. That’s what comeback basically is.

6. Substitution

Here you’ll put something rewarding in place of the habit you had. We’ll still trigger our

If you’re obsessed over an ex-partner, get a few new awesome friends to hang out with (or befriend a few celebrities like Mr. Bieber – they’re used to a lot of attention :D ).

If you’re quitting consuming unhealthy amount of foods, learn to have a healthy drink instead (mine is lemon water).

If you’re letting go of computer games, grab a new freelance client or an awesome volunteering gig for something you’re passionate about (look mom, I’m earning new moneys!).

If you’re quitting having evening cocktails, a trustable fitness trainer and a training buddy e.g. from Fitior will help you (I totally quit that thing after learning that alcohol consumption impedes muscle growth and I dream of VinDiesel-like-body :D ). Also a whole bunch of highly addictive jogging clubs are available in large cities.

Once the old habit is gone, you probably will be able to let go of your new one but I’ve never did that until I’ve found even better ones. So the substitution is usually about getting even more stimulating thing discovered – be careful :)


I have a new *-friend but I’m still looking at the photos of my ex, what do I do?

Enjoy it while you can! ^_^


3 thoughts on “How to stop stalking your ex on social media (or quitting whatever obsession you have)

  1. Andrew Kobylin

    I like news eradicator. I made version for for VK also :)
    Interesting how long I could use it :) Will start from one week since now. One month will be next aim.

    I have familiar behavior about starring for ex-girlfriends, friends, f-of-f, gf-of-f, gf-of-gf etc.
    I have tried different approaches.
    1) Try to remove Instagram, VK (one week maximum).
    2) Conscious one – I like it. Observing myself, asking question “what I’m thinking about, what I’m trying to rich by this actions?”. Usually no definite answer, looks like it is a try to invoke nice feeling without doing anything. Sometimes I have a lot of doubts of the reason why I’m starring at some person.
    A lot of people around in this age of overcommunication and willing to contact with a lot of them.
    3) Asking myself “what is my aim at the moment?” and understanding it. I notice If I change my aim for example “realize my destiny” my attitude becomes more serious (destiny is abstraction, but grow child for example)
    4) Substitution definitely good. I substitute looking in fb by small meditation or filling my diary

    1. Ivan Post author

      The point #3 feels like a very powerful instrument :) It was very hard to use in my case, as realizing “I’m not aiming anything good in long term” was painful usually :)

      Could you please share the vk version? :)


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