Social networking sites are great to reconnect with old classmates and friends as well as keeping up with current friends. It allows couples to feel connected all day, but what happens when the relationship ends? Should you maintain cyber friendship?
Facebook is the largest social networking site with more than 900 million users. Previous studies revealed a third of users use Facebook as a way to monitor activities of their former partners.
In a new study, published in the Cyberpsychology, Behavior and Social Networking journal, researchers discovered using Facebook to keep in touch with an ex, or to monitor his or her life, can severely obstruct one's post-breakup healing process.
Study author Tara Marshall, of the psychology department at Brunel University's School of Social Sciences in Uxbridge, England, and colleagues recruited 464 participants who were Facebook users to complete an online survey. The survey was designed to assess their emotional state and Facebook usage patterns post-breakup.
Volunteers were asked to recall a stressful breakup with someone who had a Facebook account. They indicated the status of the relationship before the breakup (nonexclusive dating, exclusive dating, cohabitating, engaged, or married), the length of the relationship and how much time had passed since the breakup occurred.
The study found those who engaged in "Facebook surveillance" of an ex were more likely to impede his or her emotional growth.
"People who remained Facebook friends were lower in personal growth than were those who had defriended the ex-partner, suggesting that even weak-tie contact with an ex-partner through remaining Facebook friends might disrupt the process of moving on," researchers wrote.
For some participants that means the greater the Facebook snooping, the greater the heartbreak.
Researchers concluded, "In spite of the need for further research, the take-home message from the present study is that keeping tabs on an ex-partner through Facebook is associated with poorer emotional recovery and personal growth following a breakup. Therefore, avoiding exposure to an ex-partner, both offline and online, may be the best remedy for healing a broken heart."