Don’t Stalk Your Lover’s X

This post is about a specific instance of love-life stalking. The urge to stalk that I’m talking about occurs when a person takes a lover who is suspected of still being interested in an ex-girlfriend or ex-wife. Before we get specific, let’s talk more generally about stalking. What is it and why do some people do it?

Stalking is motivated by a mistrust that is being acted on. Usually mistrust does not lead to infringing upon the rights of others, like your lover and his or her former lovers. In a love relationship a mistrusting person’s best option is to confront the mistrusted lover, not stalk.

Snooping around to collect evidence for some kind of misdeed degrades the whole situation. The point is to ‘bring the problem to a head’ by confronting your lover with your mistrust. You might discover your mistrust is not founded in reality and you are projecting your expectations of infidelity onto your lover. Fine, so you learn a lesson.

Or you discover that your lover has had a change of heart and is thinking of an old lover or has plans to return to an old relationship. You now get to decide whether you will stay or leave. Either way, you get to be direct, putting your time and energy into trying to change your love-life situation, rather than running around trying to find evidence for your mistrust.

Stalking is an obsessive-compulsive activity. Stalking tends to occur more often if a person has a tendency to be obsessive and/or compulsive in response to their emotions. If you are struggling with feelings of anxiety or worry about getting hurt, coupled with difficulties being direct with people you love, and a panicky disregard for the privacy of others, you might find yourself stalking for information about the assumed ‘private life’ of your lover. Plus, once you’ve started stalking, it can feel like you are compelled to continue stalking.

Stalking your lover’s ex-lover puts your misguided focus on your lover’s past lover instead your lover. A love-life ‘rule of thumb’ is don’t go after your lover’s lover if you have a problem with your lover. That’s totally misguided. Once again, this only means you are having a problem directing your unhappy feelings toward your lover where they belong. Beating up on his or her past or present lover does nothing for your relationship or your sanity for that matter.

Stalking involves the thrill of catching some one in a lie or doing wrong. If you have a ‘world view’ that tells you that people are born liars and it’s only a matter of time until they get caught, you can easily rationalize your stalking behavior with this kind of reasoning. Your love relationships will be ruled buy mistrust and you’ll be compelled to go out and find the evidence to confirm your mistrust and assumptions about people. Adding to the addictive quality of stalking, you just might feel a ‘thrill’ when imagining yourself catching your lover or your lover’s ex-lover doing something apart or together that reinforces your suspicions.

Stalking will never resolve a love-life problem, it simply deepens mistrust. I may have said this already but it bears repeating. Remember, if you feel justified stalking in this love relationship you can expect to be stalking in every other love relationship you have going forward in your love-life. Now you’re hooked on stalking. You now believe this is an acceptable way of solving love-life problems. Think again.

Stalking only illustrates the insecurity of the stalker. As a stalker you’re not going to like the rest of this post (you probably didn’t like the first part either). In many cases, when a person stalks they are allowing their insecurity feelings to take over. When in love, you will no doubt feel vulnerable. That’s what supposed to happen. It’s the only way for love to take root. The problem is, if you are vulnerable you are open to being hurt.

Chronic mistrust and stalking are inherently an attempt to control vulnerability in love. Who wants to get hurt right? If you are not willing or ready to take the ‘risk,’ stalking is not the best alternative. I would recommend you take some time being on your own until you feel you can better tolerate getting hurt in love. I say it like this because getting hurt in love is always a possibility since love is unpredictable and essentially uncontrollable. The point is to survive hurt, if and when it comes, and move on.

There are three states of trust possible in love: trust, repairing trust, and mistrust.  When you trust someone you are willing to tolerate the risk to yourself of being in love. You’re not in a defensive state of mind. Your heart is open. Your able and willing to trust love and  hurt if and when it comes. You’ll probably also have a faith in your ability to heal if you get your heart broken.

When you are repairing trust, your heart has been broken but you’ve decided to ‘recommit’ to the relationship. You’re in the process of going through the steps involved in mending your heart and regaining a sense of trust in your lover. Your lover is on probation, so to speak. You are flip flopping between trust and mistrust as you try to forgive and forget your lover’s transgression.

And finally there is the mental state of mistrust. This post has been a discussion of one form mistrust can take, stalking. When considering mistrust, the first question to ask is, is the mistrust ‘specific’ or ‘chronic?’ Specific meaning, the result of a single instance of heart-break. Chronic mistrust is a pattern of mistrust that shows up no matter who you are in love with.

Specific mistrust is easier to get over. You’ve made a mistake. You fell in love with the wrong person. You lick your wounds, learn a invaluable lesson, and have a better love-relationship next time. In chronic mistrust, you’re always expecting the worst. And the problem is, you always get it. Chronic mistrust requires treatment.

Comments? Welcome. Dr. T. Jordan









Dr. Jordan

Dr. Thomas Jordan is a clinical psychologist, certified interpersonal psychoanalyst, author, professor, and love life researcher.

Leave a Comment