Social media has a way of connecting us with people that we, as individuals, are only vaguely interested in. Whether it is someone that you went to middle school with or your third cousin, you find yourself staring at their posts and photos, giving you a glimpse into their lives.
Similarly, many may find themselves friends with an ex-spouse on social media. Whether it is because of the amicable nature, in which the relationship ended or out of necessity to have that vehicle as a means of communication, you may find yourself peering into her new life.
Whether they’ve recently went on a trip or have found themselves someone new, it is not always easy to stare back through your screen and see them move on with their life without you.
Studies and research
The sense of envy that many feel when observing an ex-spouse’s new life is common place. There are biological reasons hypothesized for jealousy based on gender and countless years of scientific and psychological research.
Even knowing this, we, as human beings still can feel the jealousy of seeing what a former love is up to. It is an exercise that many have done, according to a recent study by Western University. According to their research, 88 percent of 18 to 35 year olds have stalked their ex’s social media pages.
The observation of an ex-spouse can trigger that emotion and can send you down a rabbit hole of looking back on your relationship, questioning your decision to divorce, or even, affecting your mental health.
A study published in the Computers in Human Behavior journal found that social media use can trigger feelings of envy that were found to predict depression symptoms.
‘Winners and losers’
The depression can be a result of many different facets of their new life. For example, Elite Daily profiled the end of a relationship where both partners were in the same profession, but one was doing better in their career path, so when the relationship ended, there was a level of jealousy that one partner was on a more successful trajectory in something that they shared.
Much of it has to do with the notion that in the end of a relationship, there is a winner, and there is a loser. After a divorce, many men feel that they have been unfairly lumped into the loser category, because of the notion that because they are men, they are expected to give half of their assets, pay alimony, pay child support, lose their home, and be limited to the access of the children that they share with their ex-spouse.
Sometimes, their sense of being in the loser category is not as complicated as that. Sometimes, it is just that your ex-spouse has taken control of your friend group, leaving you scrambling for a support group during this emotionally strenuous time.
Other times, it may be your ex-spouse’s ability to find a new partner so soon after the end of your marriage. In the study done by Western University, 80 percent of 18 to 35 year olds have stalked their ex’s new partners on social media, in order to learn more information about them.
Learning more about an ex’s new partner is a comparative study done to see how they are and how they look in comparison to you, according to Elite Daily. Whether you are a man or a woman, you may find yourself interested in the new man or woman in your ex-spouse’s life, and that can be a good thing, especially for your divorce or custody case.
If you can find out whether or not your ex-spouse began dating them before your divorce was finalized, you might be able to find out whether or not they spent any money on them during their dates. If they had and the divorce was not finalized, they are spending marital assets, and marital waste would be provable by your attorney.
You also may need to see if they have moved in together or not, because depending on the case and the state, that may have some sort of impact on the amount that you pay in alimony or child support. If you can prove that your ex-spouse is being taken care of on some level by their new partner, then the terms of your decree may be able to be modified.
However, the most likely scenario in the reasoning behind you checking their social media accounts and the social media accounts of their new partner is that you are engaging in a form of social comparison. It can be demotivating and cause your levels of jealousy to rise intensely.
Growth from jealousy
This level of envy can be difficult to overcome, but by taking control of your access to your ex-spouse, you can eliminate the negative outcomes associated with exposing yourself to your ex-spouse’s new life. Not only will you grow from controlling the urge to read their comments on a newly-posted photo or read their Tweets, but you might be better off for it.
As difficult as it may be after a divorce, you can find some upsides in growing from your sense of jealousy. Knowing how jealous this may have made you is a realization worth reflecting on. We, as individuals, are constantly learning more about ourselves and how we recover after difficult situations, like divorce. This is a way to enhance your self-understanding and address it.
Whether you seek professional assistance in working on the jealousy you feel regarding your ex-spouse or control your own exposure to their social media accounts, you will learn that you no longer need to rely on the comparison for self-validation and that you are capable of a bright future on your own.
Dan Pearce is an Online Editor for Lexicon, focusing on subjects related to the legal services of customers, Cordell & Cordell and Cordell Planning Partners. He has written countless pieces on MensDivorce.com, detailing the plight of men and fathers going through the divorce experience, as well as the issues seniors and their families experience throughout the estate planning journey on ElderCareLaw.com. Mr. Pearce has managed websites and helped create content, such as the Men’s Divorce Newsletter and the YouTube series, “Men’s Divorce Countdown.” He also has been a contributor on both the Men’s Divorce Podcast and ElderTalk with TuckerAllen.
Mr. Pearce assisted in fostering a Cordell Planning Partners practice area specific for Veterans, as they deal with the intricacies of their benefits while planning for the future. He also helped create the Cordell Planning Partners Resource Guide and the Cordell Planning Partners Guide to Alternative Residence Options, specific for seniors with questions regarding their needs and living arrangements.