We’ve all been there.
You and your boyfriend just called it quits. Maybe it didn’t end well. You aren’t talking anymore, and you are sure he blocked you on social media.
At first, you don’t mind having a break from your ex. You needed space to absorb the impact and adjust to life without him. Seeing his picture is the last thing you want.
Then the fears slowly start to creep in.
What if he’s already moved on? Is he with that girl he told you not to worry about? What is he up to? Does he seem sad, or is he happy that you aren’t together anymore?
The unknown drives you crazy. Suddenly, you need answers. You’re spiraling and desperately text a friend asking her to check his profile. Bad news: your ex blocked her too.
Now you’re super suspicious. What is he hiding? You have to know, and you have to know now.
There’s only one thing left to do: make a fake profile and follow his page.
Instagram stalking is a guilty pleasure. As much as we hate to admit it, we all want to know how our ex is doing without us.
Before we dive into it, here's what we'll cover in this article:
- Instagram Stalking
- What The Professionals Are Saying
- Why We Can’t Stop Stalking Our Exes
- Finding The Balance
- When Instagram Stalking Turns Toxic
- 4 Signs You’ve Crossed A Line
- Instastalk App
- Does It Actually Work?
It might sound extreme, but Instagram stalking is a common strategy.
The social media giant estimates that 95 million of its accounts are fake. That means nearly 1 in 10 Instagram profiles aren’t real people.
Most of those frauds are spambots. These bots also pose as real accounts, but they aren’t run by actual humans. Their purpose is to follow and comment on as many popular profiles as possible. But even without the bots, that 95 million still leaves room for many curious exes.
Instagram stalking isn’t as bizarre as it sounds. More and more people are admitting to running a second account.
One 2020 poll found that 46% of Americans have owned up to stalking their partner online, with 9% going as far as making a fake profile to do it. Even celebrities like Kendall Jenner have confessed to making fake profiles to keep up with their old boyfriends.
The trend is only growing. But is it healthy?
What The Professionals Are Saying
Experts say no. Psychotherapist Noel McDermott has expressed concerns that operating multiple social media accounts may contribute to depression and anxiety. He cautions that keeping up with your ex from a fake profile “increases the chances of ending up with mood issues because of the social, emotional and psychological consequences of seeing photos or comments you weren’t expecting.”
Not only does it harm your mental health — but it can also put your productivity at risk.
Apps like Instagram suck so much time out of our lives already. To add another account on top of your personal one only eats up more hours in the day. McDermott recommends that users exercise mindfulness when checking Instagram.
“If checking Instagram becomes something that is interfering with your day and stopping you from getting on with other things, usage needs to be altered,” he advises. “Problematic usage can trigger something more serious, like addiction.”
Clearly, social media isn’t all fun and games. So if Instagram stalking damages our minds and negatively impacts our lifestyles, why do we still do it?
Why We Can’t Stop Stalking Our Exes
Science may be to blame. Studies show that we are hardwired to obsess over our romantic partners, past and present. There’s even evidence that intense love lights up the same parts of the brain as addiction.
Biological anthropologist Helen Fisher explains that this chemical reaction extends to stalking your ex online. "Stalking is definitely a form of addiction," Fisher says. "In fact, most of us would really like to stalk the person that's left us. But we have impulse control, and we don't do it. So stalking is more than just the desire to know; it's the lack of impulse control that makes you do it."
Worse yet, cyberstalking is a vicious cycle. The more you do it, the more you want it.
We feel compelled to keep tabs on our exes, no matter what the emotional consequences may be. Once you are rewarded with getting a hit of new information about them, you can’t stop chasing more of it. What else is out there? Who is that girl he’s with? You won’t rest until you find out.
Finding The Balance
Instagram stalking is natural to a certain extent. At least, London-based psychologist, Dr. Tara Marshall seems to believe so. “For the majority of people, it's quite a normal process,” she shares. “It can help people to move on from a past relationship if done in moderation.”
It’s therapeutic to process the breakup hidden behind a screen. Watching him live his life from afar helps you acclimate to the idea of going your separate ways.
Checking up on your ex under an alias can be thrilling. Experts don’t flat-out condemn the practice. You might even have fun viewing his latest stories from your friend’s account. None of that is inherently bad behavior.
But if moderation is the key to staying sane, how do you know where to draw the line?
When Instagram Stalking Turns Toxic
A little creeping here and there is harmless. This isn’t the ‘hiding in the bushes outside your house’ type of stalking. It’s just a forbidden peek at a private profile. Sure, it’s not the healthiest habit in the world. But you’re healing from a broken heart. Cut yourself some slack. You’re not exactly thinking clearly.
Satisfying the normal curiosity you have about your ex is no big deal. Checking his profile because you miss seeing his face isn’t hurting anyone.
But when do fun fake accounts go too far?
4 Signs You’ve Crossed A Line
It’s forgivable to do a little Instagram stalking when no one is getting hurt.
But if you notice any of these toxic tendencies in yourself or a friend, it’s time to pump the brakes:
1. You’re Losing Sleep Over It
We all get sucked into a social media spiral now and again. One thing leads to another, and before you know it, you’ve wasted an hour mindlessly scrolling.
But if you catch yourself struggling to stay awake day after day because of late nights spent Instagram stalking, you need to reevaluate. It’s not healthy to become so absorbed in your screen that you start neglecting your sleep.
There’s a big difference between randomly checking in on your ex and obsessively refreshing his feed. Make sure you are putting limits on your Instagram time, or consider deleting the fake feed altogether if you can’t stop looking.
2. You Feel Consumed By Negative Emotions
Certain feelings are natural after a bad breakup. Experiencing moments of anger, jealousy, and sadness is almost unavoidable.
But things turn toxic when you start deliberately feeding the flame.
Looking at pictures of your ex with a new girlfriend just to stay angry at him is not healthy. Feeling overcome with depression when you see his page—and checking it anyway—is only going to cause you more pain. Staying stuck in a pattern of negativity will keep you from moving on with your life.
If this is you, it’s best to replace the wallowing with healthy coping strategies. Otherwise, your Instagram habits will set you up for a long and challenging road to recovery.
3. You Use Their Profile To Track Their Location
Light-hearted Instagram stalking is nothing to worry about. But if you start keeping tabs on your ex’s whereabouts, you are crossing a line into dangerous territory.
Showing up to the bar he and his friends are at to “casually” bump into him is asking for trouble. Pull this trick more than once, and he will probably start to catch onto your game. At best, that’s pretty embarrassing. At worst? It could be illegal.
Even if your actions are well-intentioned, location tracking is playing with fire. The criminal definition of stalking includes “a course of conduct directed at a specific person that involves repeated visual or physical proximity,” according to the U.S. Department of Justice. So while hanging out around your ex’s workplace might seem innocent enough to you, they could interpret your behavior as threatening.
If that happens, you’ll have more significant problems than a broken heart. Do yourself a favor and step away from your ex’s geotags.
4. You’re Harassing Them From A Fake Account
Maybe your intentions aren’t so pure. Your ex wasn’t an angel. There’s a reason you two broke up. If things between you got ugly, it probably left you with some serious anger.
But turning to Instagram for revenge is the wrong way to express how you feel. A fake account should only be used to lurk from a distance. Any interaction beyond that, especially if it’s aggressive, is way over the line.
Another significant component of stalking’s legal definition is “nonconsensual communication, or verbal, written, or implied threats, that would cause a reasonable person fear.” So all those nasty comments you’re leaving on your ex’s post under an alias? The abusive messages you’re relentlessly sending to their inbox? That all counts as legitimate stalking, and it needs to stop before things go any further.
Note: If you or someone you know is a victim of stalking, help is available. Call the police immediately if you feel that you are in any immediate danger.
Now that you know the signs to watch for, do you still think your cyber-surveillance is all in good fun—but don’t want to get caught looking?
There’s an app for that.
Ever wanted to watch your ex’s stories but can’t stand the thought of them knowing you did? Then the Instastalk app was made for you.
With Instastalk, you can see anyone’s Instagram story without your username coming up on their screen. That means you don’t even need to make a fake profile to keep tabs on your ex. You can follow his content without fear of getting caught.
See something on his profile that you want to share with your friends, but they don’t follow your ex? Instastalk has a feature for that too.
You can download other people’s stories and keep the content forever. Even when the post disappears from Instagram after 24 hours, the story will still be saved on your phone.
Does It Actually Work?
The reviews are in. Instastalk works exactly as advertised. With the app or web extension downloaded, all you have to do is toggle the icon to Incognito. Then you can safely stalk to your heart’s content.
Your identity will be fully concealed as long as you are using the Instastalk app. And with over 3,000 downloads, the service seems to be in popular demand.
One reviewer even claims to have used it to collect evidence against animal abusers!
Remember, third-party apps are always a gamble on Instagram. Not all of them are as great as they seem. But with Instastalk installed, you’ll be able to watch your ex’s stories to your heart’s content.
Instagram stalking is a guilty pleasure. As much as we hate to admit it, we all want to know how our ex is doing without us. There’s no harm in wondering what they’re up to.
But if you do choose to lurk from behind the scenes, make sure you are staying safe. Using social media in moderation, respecting your ex, and exercising your best judgment are all essential actions before you engage in Instagram stalking.
Sure you’re being careful? Download an app like Instastalk, and you’ll be a professional social media detective in no time.