You know how internet porn has made more people seem like they have a sex addiction? Well social media sites make more people seem like they have obsessive compulsive disorder. It is because it’s too easy. You could fight the urge to warm up your car in zero degree weather to do a drive by your ex’s house at 2am, but it doesn’t take much to hit the Facebook app on your phone to creep on your ex’s page right? Then you see a picture, a status change or a comment on someone’s page that makes you freak out.
Now it’s 2:20am and you don’t know what to do with yourself. So you start texting your ex about the information on their Facebook page. You may hesitate a few seconds before sending it because you don’t want them to know you were on their page in the middle of the night. You fear they may delete you from their page which would be the worst torture imaginable, but the fear of not knowing for sure what is going on compels you to send the text to confront them about what you saw. Then, you either don’t get a text back, which drives you crazy, or they text you back accusing you of stalking their page, which drives you crazy, or they make up some excuse that you don’t believe, which drives you crazy. Great. That makes you feel so much better and you can go get a good night’s sleep right? Wrong, it makes you feel even more hurt and you continue to obsess even more about what they’re doing and who they’re with.
Never mind that you look to see what their FB status is every other minute. Changing your relationship status can be a big deal. According to the Journal of Cyberpsychology, Behavior, and Social Networking, Facebook relationship status is something that many people take VERY seriously. Did the put that we’re in a relationship yet? Don’t they want everyone to know they’re in a relationship? Why don’t they want anyone to know? Did they change their relationship status back to single? Does everyone know that we broke up? They did change their status! How dare they broadcast our business to everyone we know!!
Is this really something to break up over? Obviously, it can be and then you turn into the “Facebook Stalker” who continuously checks to see if that person gets into a “relationship” with someone else.
So, which comes first? The OCD or Facebook? I guess I believe when it comes to relationships most people have obsessive compulsive tendencies. Most people’s emotions are heightened beyond their logic when they first get together and usually when they are in the middle of a break up or in the immediate post break up stage. The logical part of your brain says, “Take things slow. You don’t need to see or talk to this person all the time. They don’t need to change their Facebook status to ‘in a relationship’ to prove they want to be with me”. Your emotions tell you, “Text them now! I miss them already even though they just left 5 minutes ago. I want everyone to know we are together”!
It is the same with a break up. You desperately want to stop thinking about them, but you can’t. Your logical brain says, “Let it go. You’ll be fine. Delete them from your phone contacts and your Facebook page”. Your emotions just can’t shut up though. Unfortunately they speak louder and more insistently at the worst times. They constantly ask questions like, “I wonder if they are over me? I wonder what they are doing right now? I wonder if we only talked one more time would we be able to work things out”? These questions are evil and make people feel obsessive. Especially if you are used to constant communication. To go from that to nothing can drive the most rational person insane.
Now you add in the availability of Facebook. To be able to look up people’s information without them knowing. The ease of sending a text without really having to face that person. What person isn’t going to act a little compulsive? Not too many people are strong enough to resist the temptation to be a voyeur and see what their new crush or most recent ex is up to. The curiosity gets the best of most of us. Even so, most people do have boundaries. Like I said earlier, you may not go to the extremes of warming up your car when it is freezing outside so you can drive across town to see if your ex is home or not. It takes more effort and is easier to resist. You then live with the anxiety and force yourself to go to sleep. You wake up the next day and usually feel better. With technology you can stalk people way too easily. You don’t learn to live with the anxiety and you wake up the next day feeling like a creeper.
So, how do you stop the OCD with so much technology available? I have had some students have a trusted friend change their password and not let them onto their Facebook page for a little while. This is an extreme decision, but can be very helpful. You also can deactivate your page. It is easy to activate it again, however, it’s a step in the right direction. Plus, it keeps your ex from stalking you for awhile. Distract yourself with something else. You can’t stop doing one thing unless you replace it with something else. Write a blog about your frustrations. Writing slows down your brain and stops your thoughts from running circles in your brain. If you don’t want to write a blog, at least write your thoughts down on paper. You can rip it up or burn it if you don’t want others to find it.
You may want to decide to delete the relationship status off your FB page and make people actually ask you about your life in person. Some people break up because their new partner refuses to change or put up a relationship status. Instead you might want to be grateful they don’t post every little thing about your relationship on their page. Then if you really did break up you can trust they won’t slam you publicly. If you are having trouble with texting your ex, try not to take your phone with you everywhere. Turn it off at night and try to keep it in a drawer. If you can’t seem to relax, look up guided imagery. You can listen to the person’s voice and it can help you to relax. They are easy to download and can get you through a very anxious moment. You won’t have to do this forever, but for a couple weeks it will really help you to not follow through with the compulsion to say “hey, what’s up?” to your ex.
The reasons these things work is that eventually your brain does let go. It learns it can live without texting this person again. It can stand it if it doesn’t know what is happening in on their Facebook page. After a few days or weeks it does become easier to resist these temptations. The more you give into the obsessions, the harder it is to fight the compulsions. The more you resist giving in and do other things to get yourself through that really rough time, the easier it will be to continue to resist the compulsions. It won’t be easy, but it is possible. The other option is to just creep along until time does it’s thing you eventually move on. The choice is up to you.