Advice From Claire: How to Stop Checking Your Ex’s Instagram

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Are you frequently checking out your ex’s social media accounts? Whether it’s a romantic or platonic ex, Claire gives you some tips on how to stop checking up on people you’ve had a falling out with — and a little insight into why we do it. Plus, she answers a question from a listener who is feeling anxious about returning to “normal” at this stage of the pandemic.

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Claire Bidwell-Smith

Claire Bidwell-Smith  00:00

You’ve got your regulars, I know you do an, ex, a friend, you had a falling out with an in law you love to hate at least once a week you find yourself clicking through their social media. But why? I’m Claire Bidwell Smith. And that’s what we’re talking about today on New Day. We’re all guilty of checking up on people we love to hate. Whether it’s an X or a friend, or even a family member, we’re in a row with, it’s a very normal behavior. But you know, it doesn’t feel healthy. And if we’re honest, it rarely makes us feel better. Even if we’re not interested in seeing that person again, or reconciling the rift, curiosity gets the best of us. And we can’t help but check in from time to time. After all, the person you’re checking on may have had a significant role in your life and had been part of your world for some time. Sometimes, we just want to see if they’re really better off without us. See if they’re dating someone new, or look to see if maybe they’re miserable without us. We’re hoping to make ourselves feel better with this behavior. Hoping to justify some of the pain we may be feeling over this breakup or rift. Maybe some of us are still holding out hope for reconciliation, or even just trying to understand what the fuck happened. But if you’re like me, you still wonder why you’re doing this every time you click on their profile. A study from the University of Western Ontario found that 88% of people on Facebook tend to check on their exes. On some level, that shouldn’t seem shocking. But I still find it kind of surprising. It makes me feel some tenderness towards humanity. I mean, we’re hardwired to be in relationships with other people. And sometimes it’s just confusing and painful when those relationships fall apart. I think we fundamentally want to believe that no one can replace us. We want affirmation that we’re valued or that we’re good people. So sometimes we’re secretly hoping that without us, that person is going to be a little sad or suffer a bit. And sometimes we do this out of jealousy. Maybe we really don’t like someone or don’t want to be friends with them. But we’re jealous of them, and we want to see them struggle in the ways we struggle. Overall, this behavior isn’t the worst thing in the world, it’s totally normal to be curious about other people. When it gets out of hand or obsessive though, I think we need to take a step back and evaluate what’s going on and work towards some behavior changes. Just like with doom scrolling, or any other bad online habit. Start to take notice of how often you’re checking up on people, how it makes you feel, and if it’s providing anything positive in your life. So start creating limits for yourself. Doing this will break the cycle of obsessiveness. Try limiting yourself to checking on that person or people just once a week, or outright block or mute them. Tell a friend or therapist that you’re working on this new behavior as a way to stay accountable. Come up with a reward for quitting this habit like a massage or some new sneakers you’ve been wanting. And also make a point to replace the time you’ve been spending with this obsessive behavior with something positive. Read a fun book instead. Or take up a new hobby. Bring Good shit into your life instead of the toxic cycle of bad feelings stalking people creates. Above all, don’t beat yourself up. We all do it at some time or another. But be honest about how good this is for you and about why you’re doing it. If there’s a lot of unresolved stuff going on with that person, then seek some actual help with that therapist instead of letting their social media run your life. You’ve got this

Claire Bidwell-Smith  03:22

today’s listener question is super relevant right now. And I bet you may be feeling similarly to how Emily is. whatever’s on your mind, though, I want to hear from you. You can email me at Or fill out my online form at, you’ll find the link in the show notes. Emily at St. Louis emailed to say, I’m really struggling at this stage of the pandemic. So many people are acting like it’s over. I’m still very cautious and masked in public and try to avoid being unmasked indoors even with close friends. But it’s getting really hard. Will I ever feel like it’s safe to go back to how things were before COVID-19. I want to give in because it’s been so long, but I just don’t feel safe. Yep. Hi, Emily, thank you so much for writing about this important issue. You are definitely not alone in feeling like you don’t know if it will ever feel safe to go back to normal. You’re right that a lot of people are acting like it’s over. And that can be really scary. For a lot of us. The pandemic certainly isn’t over new variants keep popping up people keep spreading the virus and people are still dying. That said, we know an awful lot more about the virus than we did in the beginning. And the doctors and the scientists out there are constantly providing information and guidance about how to handle it, how to stay safe and what precautions to take. Despite the progress there are a lot of people who are struggling to get back to a more normal way of life. Some of these people have very legitimate reasons and health concerns and others may be experiencing lingering anxiety as a result of the pandemic. Did you know there’s even a term called COVID Anxiety syndrome which was coined by two English psychiatrists because it’s become so common law There’s a lot of factors that can contribute to having this extended COVID anxiety. And then we’re thinking about, I think the first one to consider is that the pandemic is really fucking scary. And on some level, some of us are suffering from a form of PTSD as a result, have some compassion. If you think this is the case for yourself. No one in our generations has ever been through anything like this. It was really scary and overwhelming. And those initial feelings of fear and terror that came up for some of us may linger and be easily triggered. Others of us were anxious people to begin with and the pandemic fed right into that anxiety heightening it taking us to an even more hyper vigilant place than before. So it might take some work to rewire your brain a bit around COVID and calm your nervous system. You also want to consider your news and social media intake, how much news are you consuming them from where finding ways to take a break or seek out positive messages around improvements in the pandemic, that continued vaccine rollout, how the risk of death from the disease appears to be lessening due to new treatment options. And a couple other things to consider for yourself are the emotions around this, perhaps you’re harboring some anger around the behavior in your community and social circle, it can be hard to feel like you’re the only one who cares or is being diligent, find some constructive ways to work through this anger with a therapist or some books. And lastly, check in with yourself about whether you want to go back to normal, maybe some of the restrictions and changes the pandemic brought about in your life. We’re welcome ones for one reason or another. That’s okay. You’re not alone in that. You say you want to give in and try going back to normal. But maybe you actually don’t. And maybe you should think about a new normal for yourself. But if you truly think that maybe you’re overreacting and struggling to release anxiety around this, then I would definitely advise seeking out a therapist to talk through it with you’re so not alone with this anxiety. The pandemic is a big deal and it’s not over. Do what’s right for you and definitely make choices that are in your best interest of living a good life. Thank you for writing and good luck out there.

Claire Bidwell-Smith  07:10

Before I go, our world needs grief support more than ever. If you’ve ever considered working in the field of grief and loss, I would love for you to join me for my grief certification training course. This program is designed to help deepen your understanding of grief and end of life work. And it’s open to students, counselors, therapists, nurses, even yoga and art teachers. Anyone working in a professional setting, use code NewDay15 for 15% off registration, and visit my website to learn more, make sure you come back on Friday for my conversation with Rabbi Steve leader. It’s one of the most beautiful conversations I’ve had in a really long time. Like I can’t wait for you to hear it and make sure you’re subscribe to New Day so that you never miss an episode.

Claire Bidwell-Smith  07:55

NEW DAY is a Lemonada Media Original. The show was produced by Kryssy Pease and Erianna Jiles. Kat Yore is our engineer. Music is by Hannis Brown. New Day is produced in partnership with the well-being trust the Jed foundation and Education Development Center. Thanks for listening.

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