Like most people you may be wondering if it’s okay to look at your ex social media and if watching a fearful avoidant ex Instagram stories will make them distance even more.
It can definitely be confusing in the beginning that an ex who broke up with you is watching all your stories as soon as you post them and liking pretty much everything you post. Most people’s initial reaction is an ex is curious about them, still has feelings for them and is keeping tabs on what they’re – and it may be so.
But when you’re dealing with a fearful avoidant ex, social media use – what you post and what they post – can create lots on confusion, miscommunication, tension and anxiety because of a fearful avoidant attachment’s tendency to send mixed signals and also test other’s love and intentions.
What does it mean if your ex is following you or watching your IG stories?
In general, there are several reasons your ex is following you on Facebook or Instagram, or checking your social media. Here are some possible scenarios. Your ex is:
- Keeping tabs on you because they still have feelings for you/want you back.
- Checking on you to find out how you are doing without them.
- Having trouble letting go and wants to see if you have moved on.
- Just curious about your well being/wants to know you are okay.
- Is interested in what you’re up to but not enough interest to reach out.
- Interested in having a social media friendship/ want you in their life.
- Watching your stories so you can watch theirs/reciprocal attention.
- Reminding you that they exist/keeping you up-to-date with their life post-breakup.
- Checking to see if you’re writing stuff/venting about them.
- Habitually and compulsively watching everyone’s stories, and yours just happened to be in their list.
While you may never know the real reason your ex is still following you, viewing your Instagram stories or liking your posts, if your ex is not reaching out or not responding to any attempts to communicate or connect, don’t read too much into the fact that they you rex is looking at your social media or liking your stories or posts. Yes, it feels good that they’re still interested in what’s going on in your life, but what’s interest if not acted on?
Fearful avoidants are especially known for not acting on their feelings because they don’t want to look too interested, fear rejection and want you to reach out first or do not trust their own feelings about someone.
Fearful avoidants are also known for blocking or hiding their stories from exes and even unfollowing them for simply watching their Instagram stories. What triggers a fearful avoidant to do this is anyone’s guess. Sometimes it’s a mind game to get an ex to reach out, and other times fearful avoidants think they’re helping an ex who’s obsessing over them move on. Most of the time however, they’re just confused and conflicted and maybe even self-sabotaging.
Should you then stop looking your fearful avoidant ex’s Instagram stories?
It depends on why you are watching your ex’s stories and what you hope to get from it. It also depends on whether your fearful avoidant ex leans anxious or avoidant/dismissive.
Research has shown that for people with anxiety who also rank high for FOMO, the ‘Fear Of Missing Out’ when seeing others having fun experiences without them, continued exposure to the thing they are anxious about can help lessen that stress.
In a March 2023 study by Washington State University, researchers found that for those with anxiety, social media may feel like a less intense way to connect than in-person interaction.
“In general, a lot of people like being connected,” said Chris Barry, a WSU psychology professor and lead author. “When trying to assess JOMO (Joy Of Missing Out), we found that some people were enjoying missing out, not for the solitude or a Zen-like, calming experience of being able to regroup, but more to avoid social interaction.
He went on to say, “The motives matter”. “Why are people missing out? If it’s because they need to recharge, that’s maybe a good thing. If they’re trying to avoid something, that is probably not healthy in the long run.”
Barry suggested that JOMO might not be a stable state or linked to personality traits but rather a momentary phase of needing to disconnect. “There are a lot of unanswered questions like ‘what’s a good dosage of social interaction versus disengagement?’ I think that’s going to differ for everyone.”
If you’re watching your ex’s Instagram stories because you feel that you’re missing out and they’re having fun experiences without you, get your FOMO under control so that your social media activity doesn’t set off an alarm that you’re obsessing over them and trigger a fearful avoidant ex. According to experts, one of the most effective hacks for letting go of FOMO is focus on yourself, your own activities, process and growth; and occasionally check on what and how your ex is doing.
Fearful avoidants use social media to feel connected but not actually engage
But if you feel that your social media use is healthy and you can deal with a fearful avoidant ex’s mixed signals and the nuanced messaging; and can relatively tell what is intended as a bid for connection directed towards you and what they’re sharing with the general public, social media is a powerful less intense way to connect with a fearful avoidant ex.
Just make sure that watching each other’s Instagram stories doesn’t become the new normal. I’ve seen this happen to many people where avoidants use social media to feel connected to others but not actually engage in one-on-one interaction, and things never go beyond watching each other’s Instagram stories.
The general rule is: Unless your ex shares something directed towards you in “I want to connect with you” personal way, it’s safe to assume that an ex is merely sharing information (with multiple people) and not necessarily trying to (emotionally) connect with you. Reacting to your ex’s every story or post like it is directed at you puts off even a securely attached ex if it feels like you are stalking them or directing attention away (distracting) from what they are trying to share with multiple people.
The other general rule is: Limit social media to socially connecting and try to use texting, phone calls and meeting in person for deeper and more meaningful conversations. An ex who still has feelings for you and wants you back will not just watch your stories, or like your posts; an ex who wants you back will also make an effort to connect in other ways e.g. text, call and try to see you in person.