Social media stalking
Be honest, do you stalk your exes Instagram? What about a new partner? Do you Google them and find their Instagram handle before you even meet? Probably. It may seem harmless to “casually” browse through your exes old photos and then look through his new girlfriends page, but it isn’t. Social media stalking keeps you locked in the addiction cycle. This is especially important for those of us with anxious attachment styles too.
Hyper-social apps like Facebook and Instagram are already spiking our dopamine. When we open the apps and see messages, likes, comments we get a hit of dopamine. Dopamine is brain chemical that causes us to seek behaviors that feel good- eating good food, sex, positive social interactions, etc. Dopamine in balance is a good thing. It’s what motivates us to get out of a bed in the morning and go about our day. Too little dopamine means we will feel listless, depressed and have a very hard time feeling motivated to do anything. Too much dopamine is addiction. It cause you to seek endlessly for the “feel good” behavior, substance, person, etc to get your next hit of the chemical because it fades so quickly.
When we logon to our phones and we get all this dopamine rushing through our system, the addiction cycle starts with whomever’s profile we keep stalking. This is especially true if we are anxious attachment and we’ve been activated by an emotionally unavailable partner. Anxious attachment styles already have excess dopamine when activated, add in the excess then from just opening Instagram and Facebook and we are at a high level of the seeking chemical. This pattern will cause you to feel shitty. Excess dopamine suppresses your serotonin and it will feel impossible to feel good unless you hear from the emotionally unavailable partner your preoccupied with and then get yet another hit of dopamine. The cycle will continue.
Looking at the object of your preoccupations Instagram and then their friends and maybe the woman whose commented on more than one photo, will keep this addiction cycle going for you even if you are no longer talking to the person in real life. If we want to break this incredibly painful and highly stressful cycle- dopamine is short lived and when it wears off, it’s replaced by cortisol, the stress hormone-we have to break up with social media stalking. I know, it sounds impossible, but I promise you it’s not.
How do you stop instagram stalking? Strong boundaries to start. For me, I am very strict with this and do not google (I broke this once with my last test and immediately reinstated the protocol once I saw myself getting activated) the person I am interested in, talking to or getting to know. I don’t ask about social media until we already know each other well, established intimacy and have established the direction of our relationship. I use all these markers because as I get to know someone slowly I’m looking out for red flags and if they got ‘em, they are test and I’m walking away. If I haven’t started googling/instagram stalking them previously and I need to walk away from the situation then I’m set up for success to continue NOT looking at their Instagram after we break up. I also practice integrity by keeping my word to myself and to others as much as I possibly can. When i set up boundaries for myself, I honor them and continue to strengthen my integrity further. It’s a very important practice for myself because if I can’t trust me, who can I trust? If keeping your word to yourself feels difficult, read The Four Agreements. It’s a short and very powerful book I ask all my clients to read.
Pay attention to your feelings after you Instagram stalk an ex or potential partner. I bet if you’re honest, you don’t feel great. You might get that hit of dopamine, but it will quickly run out and leave you feeling stressed, slightly anxious and maybe even questioning yourself. Choose yourself in the moments of weakness and say no. Instead put down your phone and move your body for 5 minutes. Stretch, do jumping jacks, do 20 squats 3x, etc. Allow the endorphins to cut off the dopamine, your serotonin to rise and then choose an activity that you love and adds to your life. For example, if you’re wanting to search out an ex you’re probably looking for connection. Call a friend and ask them to meet you in the park or to go for a walk.
When it comes to the social media stalking, just say no.
If you’re having trouble saying no to social media stalking or feeling stuck in anyway, I look forward to connecting with you over a session.