My ex's new significant other is following me around on social media
March 27, 2013 7:34 PM   Subscribe

My ex's new significant other is following me around on social media. Or at least it feels that way.

After being in an on and off relationship for a couple of years with this guy, we decided to permanently be "off" so we could finally get over each other and move on with our lives. We are still friends and keep in touch once in a while. In our last chat, we told each other over the phone that we were dating other people and were happy. All good right?

Even before our call, I already thought that he might have a new SO because I got a series of facebook notifications that one user had "liked" all of my photos that he was tagged in (maybe four or five?). That user's profile picture showed him with his arm around her so it didn't take a huge leap of logic. Later, I got a notification that she had "liked" a comment I made on a post of his over a year ago. She did not "like" any of the other comments on the same post or any photos of him by other people. Then I got a notification from Instagram that someone favorited a photo I took last year on a date with him. I clicked the username and it was her; among her pictures was one of him at the same location. Most recently, I got an image board notification that she had reblogged one of my posts. It looks like she had just made her account and a not insignificant part of her content reblogged stuff that I had already blogged. Her profile picture is the two of them giving the middle finger. This is all over the course of a couple of weeks.

I'm not crazy for thinking this is strange right? I mean, it probably didn't take much detective work to find my accounts as they are still linked from my ex's, but still, I've never met her and presently live far away from them both. I know I should just ignore this, but I'd still like to ask the hivemind's opinion on: what gives? Is there some hidden meaning behind this? Is she trying to get me to contact her or something? Am I beanplating?
posted by erstwhile ungulate to Human Relations (42 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
 
Your posts and pictures are public. She's looking up her new boyfriend and liking his pictures or comments by/about him. You're clicking on her profiles and looking through her pictures and online content too. Everyone does it. You can change your settings and take content down if you don't want people to see it. The blog thing is weird but people repost other web content all the time.
posted by headnsouth at 7:39 PM on March 27, 2013 [23 favorites]


Agree, it has not much to do with you and everything to do with her looking up stuff about her new boyfriend. Which is a normal and even rather smart thing to do.
posted by Miko at 7:40 PM on March 27, 2013 [6 favorites]


I'm not crazy for thinking this is strange right?

You're not crazy, no. But its strangeness is pretty low. Shrug and ignore her.

Is she trying to get me to contact her or something?

Nooooo she is not.
posted by Etrigan at 7:44 PM on March 27, 2013 [6 favorites]


Sorry, don't want to threadsit, but just to clarify: Other than the stuff on facebook, nothing has an image, mention, or any relation to her boyfriend in them.
posted by erstwhile ungulate at 7:46 PM on March 27, 2013


Does she know you're his ex? He might have told her you're a friend.
posted by discopolo at 7:48 PM on March 27, 2013 [4 favorites]


Mmm, I think it is strange. Liking and favoriting and reblogging is sort of like making eye contact in public from across the room -- it's usually innocuous, but because you both notice it, it's normally kept to a polite minimum. A like-flurry is kind of like a heavy stare -- there's no way you won't both notice it and know that you'll both notice it, and there's therefore something behind it. Sometimes flirting or admiration, sometimes hostility, but rarely nothing. I would guess she is feeling insecure and territorial and trying to claim the parts of her new partner's life that she doesn't already have control over. This makes me a little worried for him.
posted by PercussivePaul at 7:52 PM on March 27, 2013 [35 favorites]


Two possibilities here: She is quote-"stalking" you and/or may want you to contact her -or- she is not "stalking" you and you are overreacting.

If she really is digging deep into your online life:
1 - It's unreasonable for her to expect you to read her mind. So if she wants you to contact you, she has to say so. If she does not ask you to contact you, there is no reason to act as though she wants to contact you.
2 - This is a good reminder that you should think about your privacy settings. The internet is public. There are probably actually a lot of people who've spent a few hours reading through your old history, but most of them were less obvious about it (didn't like or comment or reblog). If you don't want people to look through and react to stuff you think, say or do online, you should either adjust your privacy settings or stop thinking, saying and doing those things online.

If you are overreacting: Don't think about it any more.

So, either way:
1. Don't freak out about this and don't contact this woman unless *you*want*to* and you are willing to own that you are initiating contact.
2. Either accept that this will happen some time, or adjust how you use the Internet.
posted by croutonsupafreak at 7:52 PM on March 27, 2013 [4 favorites]


Worst case scenario seems to me that she is weird and thinks she needs to alert you to her presence. Ignore her and continue living your life.
posted by Potomac Avenue at 7:52 PM on March 27, 2013 [15 favorites]


Other than the stuff on facebook, nothing has an image, mention, or any relation to her boyfriend in them.

It's still not about you. Starting with facebook, there's a picture of her boyfriend with a woman whose company he clearly enjoyed.

Who is she? [click]
Oh, looks like they went to college together [click]
I wonder if they were serious [google]
Oh hey, blog [click]
Interesting, I'm into window herb gardens too [reblog]

All of three minutes. And then maybe bookmarked if the blog content is interesting enough.
posted by headnsouth at 7:54 PM on March 27, 2013 [14 favorites]


I think it is odd to "like" all the photos and to repost your blog writings. I would expect that she would be looking at them, but to take the public step of liking them or reposting seems a bit of overkill.

It actually seems to me that she is like a dog peeing on your photos to mark her territory now that it is hers. Better that he is dating someone like that than you are.

So, what to do? Ignore. Then fight the urge to do something and ignore some more. Continue to ignore. If it gets more stalkerish, I would consider calling up ex-bf and casually mentioning it. But that would be a last step.
posted by JohnnyGunn at 7:55 PM on March 27, 2013 [42 favorites]


she had "liked" a comment I made on a post of his over a year ago

This is strange. She's going beyond the normal level of stalking and making her presence felt. To me, it sounds most likely like she's insecure and trying to stake her claim. It is normal to look people up and do some stalking; liking their history a year back is just beyond me.

But whether this has anything to do with you, specifically, or not... I would bet that she knows you're his ex and is trying to assert "hey, he's my man now." If you ignore, it'll probably die off soon. If you don't like it, block her on any social media site you're on.
posted by DoubleLune at 7:55 PM on March 27, 2013 [15 favorites]


I have probably done this totally by accident with no intent to stalk or "send a message." Some people are just all about social media. In fact, I think it's weirder of you to notice this pattern than for her to have liked a bunch of random stuff you also think is cool.
posted by samthemander at 8:04 PM on March 27, 2013 [1 favorite]


TL;DR. Just block her name.
posted by mibo at 8:07 PM on March 27, 2013 [2 favorites]


If he dated both of you, then it's not a leap of logic to assume that you and she have some similar interests or personality traits. Therefore she may just like your blog posts.
posted by desjardins at 8:24 PM on March 27, 2013 [2 favorites]


Write her a quick "Thank you. I see you like my pics. Here's my Flickr link. What's up.. See ya" and maybe you two can just hit off.

That other one might learn a few things about your ex that she can use as an strategic tactic if need be. Give it a shot, you might have a good friend :-)

BTW, whatever you have mentioned is perfectly normal.
posted by amar at 8:25 PM on March 27, 2013


I'm going to go against the grain here.

If she is uniquely singling out YOUR interactions with him on fb to like and then going a year back in your instagram archives over a prolonged period of time it does seem like something beyond a casual interested browsing. Maybe I don't explore the online presences of people I don't know as much as others do, but I usually trust my gut when something feels strange to me. That said, yeah there isn't much to do besides ignore and block/privatize/delete.
posted by snappysnapper at 8:46 PM on March 27, 2013 [5 favorites]


Yuck.

- Definitely ignore this.
- Don't mention it to your ex. Ever.
- Block/Privitize/Whathaveyou

The problem is that you were on/off, and now are still friends.

If you want to get over him and get all of this drama off of your radar, stop talking to him.

It's really that simple.


( on/off relationships need to die altogether. quit hanging on. )
posted by jbenben at 9:03 PM on March 27, 2013 [8 favorites]


Annoying. Flag it, tighten up your FB privacy, and move on.
posted by radioamy at 9:11 PM on March 27, 2013 [1 favorite]


Does she know you are his "ex"? From your question, maybe you don't know the answer. People appear to be assuming that she does—and I agree, if she knows then her behavior is bizarre (liking a comment of yours on his post from a year ago?)—but if she doesn't know, or if she has been told something different about the nature of your on-and-off relationship, then we might guess differently about her motives.

Having said that, there doesn't appear to be any reason you can't just block her.
posted by cribcage at 9:13 PM on March 27, 2013 [1 favorite]


Is it possible that she knows you're the ex, that you and the dude are on decently good terms, and wants to show in a non-confrontational and innocuous way that she thinks you're an OK person?

I often like, favorite, RT, upvote, etc. things in situations where I'm sort of peripheral but want to say "I know about you, and you seem cool!" Like a cousin I'm not close to joins Facebook and demonstrates good taste in music via Spotify, or my little brother's new girlfriend shares a cute graphic, or whatever. It's just a subtle thumbs up.

That said, I don't think I'd ever send that subtle thumbs up to the new SO of an ex. So maybe it is a little bit weird? But not "stalking" weird, just awkward.
posted by Sara C. at 9:14 PM on March 27, 2013 [10 favorites]


Uh, weird. She might just "like" you, like be a little jealous of you as the last woman, and be kind of mildly stalkery but not threatening or anything. I get little online crushes on people sometimes and sometimes I kind of peripherally know them in real life (so I usually hide my footprints better than this girl, but you know, maybe she just doesn't realize.)
posted by stoneandstar at 9:48 PM on March 27, 2013


this seems a bit weird to me, especially if she really did create an account just to reblog your content. i'd go ahead and tighten my privacy settings and block her. if she escalates somehow then i'd tell the ex. otherwise i wouldn't say anything to him.
posted by wildflower at 9:51 PM on March 27, 2013 [1 favorite]


Who cares? Just block her and get on with your life.
posted by oceanjesse at 9:59 PM on March 27, 2013


If it bothers you, block her or change your privacy settings.

If it doesn't, ignore.

But you already know this, so I'll answer your questions directly:

what gives? Is there some hidden meaning behind this?
No. The fact that she's publicly liking your posts where everyone else can see it means it's probably benign. I think she thinks you're cool and trying to show you that she's cool with her SO's exes and that she could get along with you. Take it as a compliment.

Is she trying to get me to contact her or something? Am I beanplating?
No. Also no, but nothing good comes from thinking too much about this.
posted by rozaine at 10:18 PM on March 27, 2013


My guess was a bit like Sara C.'s:

50% *just looking at pics from her new boyfriend's past*

40% "Oh hey, you're his ex who is still friends with him?? I just want you to know, I'm totally cool with that, and hope we can get off on the right foot. These are great pictures! And I love your blog! And that thing you commented about how he sounds like Santa Claus when he laughs with food in his mouth -- he TOTALLY does!! You are so right! Ha ha, anyway, I can see we're going to be great friends."

10% "I'm here, and I'm not scared of you, and I'm not going away. So get used to me."
posted by salvia at 10:22 PM on March 27, 2013 [14 favorites]


Thank you all, I appreciate the range of perspectives.

Just 'cause I hope I didn't come off as totally paranoid, some details I probably should have included in the OP are: My various social media accounts are all under different usernames and do not link to each other. Unless you are already in my contacts, it would take a some proactive searching rather than random clicking to find them all. I do not appear in any Facebook photos with my ex; they are of him alone. I was just the photographer and my name shows up underneath each image as its owner. But I do realize this is the internet and people use it and view it in many different ways. I will now go fiddle with my privacy settings.
posted by erstwhile ungulate at 10:27 PM on March 27, 2013 [3 favorites]


Does your ex know the various names you use online?

Because I don't think it would really take much sleuthing on the part of the girlfriend. It could easily have gone something like this:

GF: This is such a cute picture of you! [Clicks "LIKE".] Who's Erstwhile Ungulate?
BF: That's my ex girlfriend.
GF: Oh.
BF: Nah, it's cool, we're still friends. Seriously, she has the funniest tumblr. I'll send you a link.

Etc.

It's not like this is someone who has no way of knowing anything about you. She's got a prime source of this sort of information sitting right next to her on the couch.
posted by Sara C. at 10:31 PM on March 27, 2013 [3 favorites]


That would make sense, but from my experience, he never ever mentions ex-girlfriends/past relationships and is reluctant to discuss them even when directly asked. Though of course he could be a changed man. Okay, actually bowing out this time I promise.
posted by erstwhile ungulate at 10:41 PM on March 27, 2013


By caring so much about this, you're kinda breaking the 'permanently be "off" so we could finally get over each other and move on' thing. Just so you know.

If she wants to mark her territory, great - don't feed into it.
posted by destructive cactus at 11:15 PM on March 27, 2013 [8 favorites]


Yes, I do actually think it is weird that she is leaving digital footprints all over your social media territory. I also think it sounds like she has sought you out. Furthermore, I think a newly-created image blog consisting of many reblogs of your posts, was probably put out as a trail for you to follow and I wouldn't be surprised if the profile pic of the two of them giving the finger was directed at you. Failing that, you are at least meant to notice.

I wouldn't do any of these things towards the same person who just happened to be my new bf's most recent ex. I especially wouldn't do it without friending/linking to them first. I think that if I did all those things I'd be too worried that it might not look like I'd done them by chance.

So I actually don't think you are the one being weird here, in fact, I think the intent of this kind of thing is to make you feel/look like the weird one for noticing it at all. So I wouldn't take to heart anyone who implies that you're seeing something that's not there or not significant.

But having said that, so what. This person is not important in your life (at least they won't be after you fade out the friendship with your ex), they can't threaten your job or your other relationships as far as you know, they're just showing a piddling trivial amount of hostility in the laziest, lowest risk way possible. This doesn't sound like someone who would have the cojones or the energy to escalate into anything worse.

So yeah, don't react to it (she'd probably like it because then you look like some kind of wacko cyber stalker), just ignore and block as appropriate.
posted by tel3path at 1:38 AM on March 28, 2013 [21 favorites]


It's natural to be curious about a new significant other's ex, and maybe he's told her a bit about you. I think it's her kind of silly, subtle way of indicating to him and/or you that she is cool with you.
posted by catatethebird at 5:18 AM on March 28, 2013


I would guess suggest two possibilities based on my own life. She could be like my ex-husband, who is bat-shit crazy and stalks everyone. He once sent an email to an ex-boyfriend of mine, that he had never met, to try and get him to say something mean about me. People can be creepy sometimes.

Or, she could be doing what I have done, once or twice in the past, when I was dating someone that I wasn't sure about. She could have been lied to so many times, by so many men, that she uses the internet as a truth gathering resource. A part of her doesn't believe him when he says he is over you, so she wants to watch you, and make sure that you know she is there, in case you trip up and say the truth.

To sum up- it's creepy. It may or may not be harmless. Your best bet is to not mention it to your ex and to stay out of contact with him, even as a friend, while he is dating this highly insecure woman. If he is truly your friend, you will want him to be happy. And if he is happy with her, then, don't bother them.
posted by myselfasme at 6:17 AM on March 28, 2013 [3 favorites]


from my experience, he never ever mentions ex-girlfriends/past relationships and is reluctant to discuss them even when directly asked. Though of course he could be a changed man.

We learn from our experiences; sometimes the things we learn would have totally changed our old relationships but are just too late. I have spent waaay too much time over the years complaining because X or Y or Z never did A or B or C when we were going out. When that comes up, I just think about all the ways that I've changed since I was going out with X or Y or Z, and that calms my nerves.
posted by Etrigan at 6:50 AM on March 28, 2013


I realize I've sort of done this too. And my reasons were a lot like myselfasme's reasons -- it was to say "I'm here and I'm aware of you and I want you to be aware of me" but also "hey, all of us are cool here" even if I didn't really mean it (but there would also be an element of genuine interest in who the former flame was and liked).

So yeah, I'm going with "slightly creepy" but also "mostly harmless." I think this will mostly fade away.
posted by darksong at 7:25 AM on March 28, 2013


Could it also be possible that she's following him on social media and is so unaware that she doesn't realize that she's liking things that are on your page(s)/account(s)? Some people just search and don't get the difference between things tagged with someone's name and things belonging to that person's account.
posted by Kurichina at 7:34 AM on March 28, 2013 [1 favorite]


I can easily see where this situation could be the result of someone being enthusiastic, maybe a bit oblivious and possibly not terribly tech-savvy. I'd feel weird about being on the receiving end of this, too, and I think that you're doing the right thing by tightening up your privacy settings. And then I'd forget about it, personally, unless there are attempts to escalate contact from her side.
posted by EvaDestruction at 9:21 AM on March 28, 2013 [1 favorite]


Most recently, I got an image board notification that she had reblogged one of my posts. It looks like she had just made her account and a not insignificant part of her content reblogged stuff that I had already blogged. Her profile picture is the two of them giving the middle finger.

You are not crazy, and the strangeness level is at least 'medium'.

Here is why I think many people are telling you the strangeness level is low: your strangest details are hidden IN A LATE-MIDDLE SECTION OF YOUR LATE-MIDDLE PARAGRAPH. In academic and professional writing, we teach people that is exactly where you should hide items if you do not want people to give those details much thought -- for example, if some data contradicts your thesis, or if you are a sneaky lawyer writing a sneaky contract. (On the other hand, that would have been a great place to put these creepy details if you were scripting a Hitchcock movie, and frankly I wouldn't blame you if your writing mind felt a little bit like you were.)

I have no idea whether tel3path's interpretation is correct, and I do think you're correct to just ignore this. But yeah, this is strange. If you quantify "not insignificant part", you can probably translate that proportion directly into a Strangeness Index.
posted by feral_goldfish at 9:39 AM on March 28, 2013 [9 favorites]


Yeah given the update I'm going to have to say it was definitely intentional and maybe calculated. If she's savvy enough to find you on diff. accounts, she probably wasnt doing this by accident or out of curiosity. It's kinda against unspoken Internet etiquette is to silently make it known to someone who doesn't know you that you've found them on three different unlinked sites.
posted by snappysnapper at 10:04 AM on March 28, 2013 [1 favorite]


Here is why I think many people are telling you the strangeness level is low: your strangest details are hidden IN A LATE-MIDDLE SECTION OF YOUR LATE-MIDDLE PARAGRAPH.

Err.. yeah, I thought I'd read the entire question, but I missed the part about how the reblogging Tumblr profile picture was that of the happy couple giving the middle finger until tel3path mentioned it. I'd assume that means the girl wanted to get your attention, so you'd look at the profile and BAM, it's a picture of her and your ex giving you the finger.

I don't think this is an unreasonably paranoid conclusion to come to, and I'd definitely put this into the category of jealous/aggressive/possessive new girlfriend behavior. However, it should be ignored if it doesn't escalate.
posted by wondermouse at 11:44 AM on March 28, 2013 [2 favorites]


On reading your whole question and your updates, I think you are correct in assessing this as as 1) deliberate and 2) hostile. I think it's a real stretch to attribute her behaviour to harmless curiosity or accident.

I would chalk it up to insecurity on her part, ignore/block/not respond at all, cease contact with your ex, and (as you said you were going to do anyway) tighten your privacy settings.
posted by hurdy gurdy girl at 4:27 PM on March 28, 2013 [1 favorite]


I think it's weird, but also harmless and impossible to gracefully do anything about, so I'd just ignore it.
posted by Ragged Richard at 4:39 PM on March 28, 2013 [1 favorite]


I came here to suggest what Salvia said, that maybe she knows you guys are on good terms and wants to show she's cool with that and be friendly. That's the sort of thing I might do. Even to be self-serving about it, if she knows you guys are close, then she doesn't want to give you any reason to persuade him to dump her or anything. I think it wouldn't be unusual that she would be worried not out of jealousy or possessiveness, but because it's feasible that you could be the kind of close opposite-sex friend that will try to sabotage his relationships even if you and he never do anything romantic again, if that makes sense.

Basically any girlfriend this guy has in the future will have incentive to genuinely want to be friends with you and hope you're cool and fun and interesting, and not because they're crazy and possessive -- but there will also be future girlfriends who will feel threatened and be crazy and possessive too.

For now, it could mean anything, but I think the best path you could take is to assume she's really sweet and nice and just wants everyone to get along and have fun. That's the only way everyone is happy. If she's crazy, make her unambiguously prove it before you worry about it much. That way, it won't shade your interactions with her, and if she's on-the-fence crazy, you won't give subtle signs that push her off the fence. And you won't look bad ever.
posted by Nattie at 6:27 PM on March 28, 2013


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