Why you’re still Googling your ex

The idea of getting back with your ex makes you feel like you’ve just eaten a dodgy prawn. So why are you still looking him up online?

Your boyfriend’s out, and so far tonight you’ve watched three Friends repeats, added 18 things to your ASOS basket that you’ll never buy anyway, and eaten two thirds of the lasagne you said you’d save him half of.

Now what? Ah, well now would be the perfect time for an online search of the ex that you have no desire to see again, and really don’t care what happens to, wouldn’t it?

Oh yes, we know your secret. The good news is that you’re definitely not the only one who’s done it; the bad news is that he can see when you view his profile on LinkedIn, even if you only lasted 10 seconds before his telecommunications CV bored you all the way to a computer shutdown.

Clinical Psychologist Dr Jessamy Hibberd says that all of this temporary nipping into our past online means we have more trouble moving on than we used to.

Before Facebook and co, it was much easier to forget The Man Who Thought Reebok Classics Were Smart Shoes because you wouldn’t see him and his favourite trainers staring out at you from Instagram.

And checking out what the man who broke our hearts in 2004 had for his tea last night? It never makes us feel good, so why do we all do it?

[Tess Daly talks the awkward birds and bees chat with your kids!]

[How mediation went mainstream]

Reason Number One: The Animal Instinct Google

Let’s imagine that you’re buying a house. You think you’ve seen a cracking semi that you like, but you still want to browse, right? Pop into Foxtons, head next door to Winkworth, check out what’s on Rightmove. Then - and only then - can you be sure you have the best house.

Now the same naturally applies not only to the home you’re planning to spend years with, but also the partner you’re planning to spend (even more) years with.
"Evolutionary psychology suggests it's to ensure survival of the fittest,” says Dr Hibberd.  “You need to ensure you're with the best possible mate - natural selection makes you check that your new guy betters your ex."

So really, you’re just working on animal instinct. If animals judged others on how well they filtered last night’s cheeseburger on Instagram.

Reason Number Two: The Nosy Google

Ok, so now imagine - yes, we are running with this analogy - that you’ve bought a new house, and you’re happy with it. That doesn’t mean you don’t ever want to nip upstairs just before the roast beef arrives at your mate Charlie’s and check out what she’s done to the walls in her back bedroom (putrid green? Charlie?).

"We're also social animals and like to know what others are up to, so checking on your ex online can be part of this more general phenomenon, a natural noisiness," says Dr Hibberd.

So if you do the odd (monthly) casual browse (well there was some zooming...) of his Facebook photos, don’t feel guilty about it; it’s pretty standard for a generation who are obsessed with what other people are up to like ours.

Reason Number Three: The Competitive Google

For some people though, the browsing of the ex is about more than just nosiness, it’s about wanting to ‘beat’ the former partners, and to boost your self-esteem. Yes, yes, that does sound unhealthy, you’re not wrong. And it often happens if the ex in question is someone you had a nasty break-up with.

“If the relationship ended badly or on your ex’s terms, you can be searching to compare your situation with theirs, often in the hope of seeing you are doing better than them,” says Dr Hibberd.

Sound like you? In that case, stick Friends back on, put the ASOS haul on your credit card and eat the rest of the lasagne. Anything to stop you carrying on with that clicking.

Dr Jessamy Hibberd is a Chartered Clinical Psychologist and the co-author of a new series This Book will...make you Calm/Confident/Happy/Sleep. For more info visit