By Margarita Nahapetyan
Checking and following the activities of an ex partner through social networking site Facebook can seriously interfere with a person's ability to move on as well as delay their emotional recovery and healing, suggests a new article, entitled "Facebook Surveillance of Former Romantic Partners: Associations with PostBreakup Recovery and Personal Growth."
Although Facebook can help lovebirds feel connected day and night, there is a downside to all that connectedness when the relationship comes to its end, said an author of the new research Tara Marshall, scientist at the psychology department at Brunel University's School of Social Sciences in Uxbridge, England. The effects of remaining Facebook friends with an ex-lover may seriously impede a brokenhearted individual's personal growth after a breakup, Marshall said.
Nearly 1 billion people all across the globe are active users of Facebook, and it is estimated that as many as 30 percent report using the site in order to check on the status and the activities of their ex romantic partners. The new study set to analyze the effects of continued Facebook contact with a former romantic partner and of Facebook surveillance, in which people do not actually contact each other, but one person checks the page and postings of another.
Nowadays keeping up with ex lovers and perhaps their new partners is very easy, with people getting all the information and updates about all the latest activities without the former significant other knowing about it. Such continued "friendship" gives ex partners an opportunity to keep tabs on each other through status updates, photographs and wall posts. And depending on a person's privacy settings, even an "unfriended" former partner may be able to monitor updates and information from public postings and the pages of common friends and acquaintances.
For the purposes of the research, data from nearly 500 participants was collected in order to evaluate their usage of social networking site as well as their emotional recovery and healing after the breakup with a romantic partner. According to the results, about 58 percent of all the participants reported still being Facebook friends with their former lover; of these participants, more than 90 percent said that the ex's Facebook timeline, photos, status updates, and list of friends were visible to them.
Based on the responses, researchers came to the conclusion that engaging in Facebook surveillance of an ex, did not do any good to the follower, just the opposite - it seemed to delay the rejected individual's personal growth and emotional recovery in ways that in-person contact did not. In other words, the more a person spied on Facebook, the greater was the heartbreak, Marshall said. This suggests that maintaining even a weak contact over the Internet after the breakup might seriously interfere with moving on, which also indicates that emotional recovery and personal growth might be separate processes. Therefore, psychologists concluded, avoiding exposure to an ex-lover, both in-person and online, may be the best remedy for healing a broken heart.
The findings of the study are published online in September, 2012 issue of the journal Cyberpsychology, Behavior, and Social Networking.