Most of us have done it. It’s human nature.
Some of us do it occasionally. Some of us do it ten times a day. Or we get our friends to do it. And then there are those brave souls who do it openly, and even make a public response, either genuinely or to prove that they’re totally fine, honestly.
Yes, I’m talking about looking up an ex’s profile on social media.
Regardless of how the relationship ended, it’s usually confronting to see an ex moving on with their lives. It’s a strange sort of reminder that the person you were intertwined with has an identity of their own. Even if you no longer love them, even if you’re 100 percent over them – there’s often anger and hurt feelings when you think about your life together.
So the moment when you see a loved-up photo of them not just travelling on their own, or simply out to dinner with friends, but with a new partner, will undoubtedly give you a jolt.
Even worse, if it makes headline news because your ex is a high profile media identity, like Karl Stefanovic.
Yesterday, Stefanovic posted a happy shot of him and his new fiancée, Jasmine Yarbrough. On Valentine’s Day. Combine the intense interest in the couple with the significance of the day, and you have a post that’s got national attention.
Stefanovic and Yarbrough look happy and relaxed. Perhaps posting this shows Karl’s indifference to how it might make his ex-wife, Cassandra Thorburn, feel seeing it. Perhaps not. But either way, the couple is happy and they want the world to know.
Which of course is absolutely fine.
But it doesn’t mean posts like these are easy to handle if you were once that other person with your ex. It’s common to have a visceral reaction when you first see one; to wonder why your ex is happier without you, to perhaps be envious of how easy it seems for them to move on.
It can be outright confronting to see that the partner who stopped kissing you goodbye in the mornings is now apparently very comfortable with public displays of affection.
You’re definitely not alone in feeling like that. These women shared their experiences with Mamamia about seeing their ex with a new partner on social media:
He was terrible with computers but managed to get on Tinder.
“My ex-husband always claimed he was terrible with computers. But one day before he’d even moved out of our home, I looked in the browser history and saw he was on Tinder actively searching for a mate. It made me feel bitter that when he wanted to for his own needs, he could learn something new. He’s now all over Facebook with his new girlfriend and it makes me angry that he’s capturing moments of joy with someone else when he had a family here who would have loved that attention. I don’t get why he’s flaunting it. But more than anything, I wish that girl the best of luck and I’m glad it’s not me.”
He got married first.
“I felt ripped off that he ended up getting married before me. I was fuming for weeks. Then I saw the wedding pics and it was so beneath me (both in taste and in the woman he married) then I felt normal again. Because my life is meant for better and great things. But at the beginning it was like ‘how DARE you have a happy ever after when you are an a**hole and a bad person?’ ”
He re-used the ring.
“I had a friend who broke up with the love of her life very bitterly after he’d bought her an engagement ring. She gave back the ring, but then years later she saw on social media he was engaged and the life she built up all came crashing back down again.”
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So what can you do when life sends you a whole new set of issues about your ex? Not looking is easier said than done, with mutual friends and even family who sometimes give you updates because they think you need to know. Here’s some more helpful suggestions:
Remember that social media is a ‘highlights reel’ of most people’s lives and not always an accurate reflection of the moment. And you know for a fact that life with your ex isn’t all roses. Usually the people most active on social media have something to sell, or something to prove. Your ex has every reason to prove something to the world – so think of it this way; the photo is about him, so don’t let it speak to you.
Don’t look again. It’s happening whether you know about it or not. So for your own sanity, maybe it’s better not to know too much more. Diving deep into the profile of the new person won’t end well because you simply don’t need that knowledge in your head.
Try not to cave to the human instinct to compare yourself to the new partner. This is a new chapter for your ex, and they’re not the person you knew. You, and your relationship, can’t be compared.
Accept that this is their new path – because doing that gives you a chance to concentrate on yours.
Know that one day it won’t matter. Being apart, having different lives, will be the new normal.
You’re not alone. We’ve all been there, and survived, and you will, too.