My friend obsessively follows guys on social media. How can I help him kick this unhealthy habit?

By Wayne and Wanda

Updated: 14 hours ago Published: 14 hours ago

Dear Wayne and Wanda,

I want a third point of view. My friend “Kelly” got divorced a few years ago. She had been married a long time and never dated into a world with dating apps and social media. When she and her husband broke up, she used her social media posts to figure out his plans so she could “conveniently” meet him. We told Kelly it was unhealthy, but it took calling her – in front of other people, he called her a “stalker” – to get her to stop.

Since then she has focused on our friend “Jeff”. Even before her divorce, Kelly thought Jeff was cute and nice. She didn’t want to move too soon after her divorce and scare him. But instead of finally being honest with Jeff about how she feels, or even just asking him out, Kelly did the same stuff she did with her ex – follow Jeff on social media to meet him. and obsessively following his social networks.

She recently said she sometimes goes where she knows Jeff would be just to “watch him.” It sounds like harassment, not flirting. If anything, I’m afraid my friend is using social media in all the wrong ways because she’s just lost in the modern world. But at worst, what she does seems scary. What should I do or say?

Wanda says:

In the dating world, social media has its uses, that’s for sure. Someone’s profile can offer an at-a-glance idea of ​​their tastes and interests, which can give clues to potential compatibility, possible deal breakups, even first-person convo fodder. appointment. What it’s not meant to do is provide an on-ramp for prowlers to hide after love interests IRL. It is, in fact, frightening.

But let’s first assume that Kelly isn’t acting with bad intentions and is instead an unhappy divorcee who doesn’t understand modern dating using today’s virtual communication tools. Clearly, her ex publicly shaming her hasn’t done the trick: she’s still at it, using photos and posts to literally bump into her crush. What she is doing is not illegal. But that doesn’t mean it’s OK for Kelly to use Jeff’s personal messages to essentially track him. This behavior could be detrimental both to her own sense of worth and reality, and to her friendship with Jeff.

Have a heart to heart with your friend, approach them with an open mind and heart. After a divorce in a foreign world of dating apps and virtual interaction, even a few years later, she’s probably struggling to understand the norms and is terrified of feeling romantic rejection again. But you’re in a unique position to explain why her behavior violates a basic trust between friends connected on social platforms, and why she also self-sabotages any real chance she has with Jeff, if she doesn’t. not already failed.

And if that fails, maybe it’s time to speak to Jeff directly and let him know that he needs to implement additional privacy levers on his social platforms.

wayne says:

First of all, it’s not cyberbullying. Kelly uses social media to find out where men hang out, and then she literally goes to those places to “watch” them, which elevates this to just above scary and just below harassment.

Second, if Kelly hasn’t already screwed up with Jeff, she soon will because she’s in love and sloppy. She’ll blow her cover – get spotted during one of her creepy stakeouts, accidentally log onto Facebook at one of Jeff’s favorite spots, or get to the point where she just can’t help herself. and must make an appearance by planting one – or more – of Jeff’s good times. And from the way Kelly’s ex-husband put the pieces together, Jeff will likely realize that it’s no cosmic coincidence that they keep bumping into each other. Heck, it’s not even the trailer for a – dark – romantic comedy. It’s borderline “Fatal Attraction”, “Obsessed” or “Single White Woman”.

But hey, let’s just say Kelly’s surveillance goes unnoticed or works in her favor: Jeff thinks it’s cool that she’s interested, that she’s fun to be around, and things start to move forward. Do you think dating Jeff will be enough for Kelly? As if hugs would suddenly provide the confidence and comfort that put an end to his obsessive ways? Or will she step up her game to put a tracker on Jeff’s car and somehow get the passwords to his phone and laptop?

Kelly needs to give Jeff, his fixations and his broken heart a, well, break and do some serious healing and soul-searching. She is in the wrong place and this activity is not healthy. She must appreciate that. She also needs to start spending her free time revolving around someone else: a therapist who can help her understand how dangerous, destructive, and depressing this type of obsessive behavior can be.

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