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The Pitfalls of Searching for an Ex Online

3 min read

By Wendi Schuller
Mar 19, 2021

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The Internet has made it easy to check up on former spouses. In some cases, one may feel relief. In other instances, it can lead to the what ifs.

When deciding whether or not to look up an ex-partner, first, think about your motivation. Is it idle curiosity, or are you pondering the question of getting divorced?

One acquaintance's wife went on social media to discover the whereabouts of an old boyfriend. She contacted him, and they started having long weekends together that she passed off as business trips. When her suspicious husband confronted her, she confessed about the affair. This couple soon divorced, and she later married her former boyfriend.

Be clear why you are seeking out information, especially when already in a committed relationship.

People may be delving back into the past to see if they have made good choices. This can get into the dangerous territory of regrets. There may be one person who slipped through their fingers and got away. Seeing that individual's fabulous lifestyle online can have them questioning why they broke up with them, especially if currently going through a divorce. People may wonder if they were too hasty in letting a love interest go. Instead of saying what if, think about the great children you now have, or the life experiences you would have missed if you did not take the road that you did.

Social media and online searches hit the surface—the great professional accomplishments—but usually do not dig deeper, into character traits and values. What tore you apart before can still do so today, unless you both have changed or had some type of enlightenment.

After much prodding by a friend to look up people online, I recently decided to give it a go. I searched for a former fiancé and got quite a surprise. I had mainly broken up with him because he was too loose with the truth and blamed others when his discrepancies came to light. He got married within a few years after our parting of ways, which ended in a divorce fairly quickly. What I discovered online is that he is one of the top surgeons in his field, has won all kinds of awards, and is employed at a prestigious institution.

What comes as a surprise is the intensity of emotions that arise as a result of searching for a person from your past. My fiancé and I had a clean break, and two years later bumped into each other, which ignited our passion. We decided to pursue getting back together again. He called when I had company, and could not talk long. I never heard back from him, and was devastated. After my search, I started thinking about this situation and was horrified to realize that my poor word choice—"I'm with someone right now and can't talk"—may have led him to believe that I had become unavailable. This dawned on me at work, and I asked a few co-workers about what I said on the phone. They all replied that if they were him, they would not have called back either, as it seemed as if I was no longer interested.

I went through profound grief where I mainly sat on the couch eating chocolate and reading detective novels. The grief manifested itself physically, as if big waves were crashing against me. I mourned not having his loving parents, siblings and extended family in my life. I felt a sense of loss. Others may experience anger, sadness, or wanting a time machine to go back into the past. When deciding whether or not to do a search, be prepared for some strong reactions to what is discovered.

If having problems after doing an online search for an ex, consider a session with a life coach. They can give you a reality check and get you back on track. I saw one, and she pointed out that this situation was not all my fault. My fiancé had the responsibility to clarify what he thought my message was on the phone. He easily could have popped in where I worked to see me. This was before cell phones, so I did not have a way to contact him. My life coach suggested perhaps a marriage for us was not meant to be.

In some instances, former boyfriends and girlfriends have found each other again through social media and married. The common thread is that they are both single, and what broke them up is no longer a factor. These include having been too young, parental disapproval, or a long-distance relationship, such as going to universities on different continents. It was not a character flaw.

There is a way to satisfy curiosity regarding old classmates and high school sweethearts. See if your class has a group on social media, such as on Facebook, where you can catch up with these friends. You can find out what is new with your former flame in this group setting, without contacting him or her directly.

After a traumatic divorce, one can be lonely, especially when losing friends and some in-laws because of it. One can feel vulnerable, and trying to garner comfort from past relationships may not be the right path. Give yourself time to heal and gain self-understanding before attempting any social media searches for past partners. When feeling alone, consider networking, meeting new people, and joining clubs. Take up old hobbies, and follow your interests. Surrounding yourself with supportive people may be what you need most, rather than searching for former loves.


If you are experiencing marital difficulties, please visit DivorceForcePRO to speak with one of our experts. To learn more about our Community, visit www.DivorceForce.com. 

Written by Wendi Schuller

Wendi Schuller draws upon her knowledge as a nurse, Neuro-Linguistic Programmer (NLP), and hypnotherapist, providing a blueprint to guide people through divorce and beyond. Her latest book is The Global Guide to Divorce, and she has over 200 published articles. She is a guest on radio shows in the UK and U.S. Among Wendi’s passions are international travel and learning about other cultures.

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