I stalk another woman and I can't stop

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    For the past 12 years I’ve been stalking a woman I used to know. She is my ex’s sister and she doesn’t like me because I was young and stupid and cheated on my ex. Anyway she was always (and still is) the person who was ahead of fashion, always had lots of friends, did lots of cool things, had more money, has an enviable figure and is pretty. She has everything, she has the perfect package. I have been stalking her solely online (I know where she lives as my ex openly told me but I’ve never been near her house) and it’s like I need to know what she’s doing, where she’s going, what she’s wearing etc. I just want to point out I am not interested in her in any sexual way, I am 100% straight. It’s more like… I want to BE her. I won’t go into it all but my life is nothing compared to hers. I have tried and failed several times over the years to stop looking on her social media but it’s like an addiction I can’t give up. So how do I stop? Is it that bad? This woman has no idea that I’m doing this. I need help!


    Dear Sarah:

    “I have been stalking her solely online”- you’ve been following her social media accounts, like Facebook.. a presentation of her, an account where she presents herself in a favorable way, as is often the case in social media. In other words, it’s like watching the movies of an actress, thinking you are stalking the person, while you are actually stalking an actress who is pretending to be this or that character.

    You don’t know who the person is underneath the character. The person on the photo on fb looks so happy, smiling, as if forever- happy, while the person in that photo may be crying at night, scared or sad.

    Am I making sense to you?


    • This reply was modified 6 months, 2 weeks ago by anita.

    I totally understand what you are saying but in this case my ex tells me that pretty much everything she posts online is real.


    Dear Sarah:

    Her brother tells you that “pretty much everything she posts online is real”- let’s look at what is real:

    1. She is “ahead in fashion”- she really is ahead in fashion, the photos show that.

    2. She “always had lots of friends”- she really does.

    3. She “did lots of cool things”- vacations and such, I am guessing.

    4. She “had more money” than you- I suppose she does.

    5. She “has an enviable figure and is pretty”- I suppose she really does.

    6. “She has everything, she has the perfect package”- If #1-5 above is everything, then she has everything.

    You wrote: “I need to know what she’s doing, where she’s going, what she’s wearing etc… I want to BE her. I won’t go into it all but my life is nothing compared to hers”-

    – let me take you to a tour of her life that you can’t see by looking at her social media accounts, and which her brother probably doesn’t know much about, if any:

    At the end of the evening, when she checked out of social media, lying in bed, she turns off the light and she lies there, not tired enough, lying there, anxious. She knows there is a global pandemic going on, and she knows that people who’s fashion is impeccable got sick (not necessarily from Covid-19, there are plenty of other scary diseases), so she may too. She knows that people with lots of friends and money got sick, so she may too. She knows that one day she will get sick and die, like everyone else, and nothing she has, nor her beauty will save her from the fate of us all.

    She knows that the economy is suffering a whole lot, she worries that maybe her money will not be enough. A few of her friends have more money than she does, and she envies them. Thinking about her many friends, she is annoyed with one or two who didn’t pay much attention to her that day, didn’t even Like her posts that day.

    In the morning, not having slept much, she walks to the bathroom and looks at her image in the mirror, she sees a wrinkle on her face and her anxiety goes up- a wrinkle? Oh, no, I am getting old (her fashion, friends, having done cool things.. none of these can stop her aging, alas!), better cover it, she thinks.  She washes her face, applies foundation, make up, but her heart is heavy.  She then thinks: social media! That’s fun!, so after her makeup and hair is perfect, and she put on a fashionable top, she takes a selfie of herself smiling, looking very happy. She posts it online, gets Like responses and emojis, and a few envious comments by friends.. and voila! She feels so much better.

    Somewhere on the other end of a computer screen, you are taking in that newest selfie and think to yourself: oh, she has Everything, I want to be her. Well, you are her. You too worry about getting sick and dying (whenever the thought crosses your mind), you too worry about looking unattractive as you get older. You too are envious of people who have more money than you, and you too know that even though you have more things and money than many people, none of these things or money will save you from the fate that is the same as everyone’s.

    * This is an obsession, at this point, to stalk her online, “an addiction”, as you called it. Like any addiction, there is a way to treat it. Let me know what you think of what I wrote so far, and we can continue to communicate on the matter.



    Hi Sarah,

    If I may lend my thoughts…for several years I have been obsessed with a few women much as yourself. Whether they were the woman I was left for or someone who seemed to have everything figured out. I just never seemed to measure up in my eyes and I was so very deeply affected by it. I was ashamed of my obsession.

    I got really tired of feeling this way and decided to confront the issue head on and disect my feelings layer by layer. After a lot of self examination I realized that I can choose how I channel that obsession and honour the specific things that I admired about the person, I would then model those qualities in myself to embody those things in my own way. I would take fashion tips and make them my own and explore the ways I too can be as successful etc.

    Now when that feeling comes up again, I am able to acknowledge and use what I was previously jealous about to improve on myself, the initial self hate still appears at first but it goes quickly as my consciousness makes the shift.

    Hope this helps, it takes a bit of practice.



    Hi Sarah,

    I am writing here to you because I have been doing the very same thing since the past 6 months. And it is such a relief to see that I’m not the only one doing this. There is this girl I stalk on social media. She is my boyfriend’s ex-gf. I am not at all interested in her romantically or sexually. I am 100% straight. Nor am I jealous of her because of my bf. He dated her for a few months a very long time ago, and there is absolutely nothing between them. I have no reason to be threatened by her. Yet, I stalk her on social media.

    At first, I couldn’t explain why I needed to check her profile everyday. I have met her for a whole of just 2 hours in my life, that too 6-7 years ago, when she was dating my guy. She followed me on Instagram last year, which is how I found her profile. I have no idea why she did that. Even last year, I did not even look at her profile. I just knew who she was because her name was familiar, and I checked with my bf (then friend) if this is the same girl. I did not even remember her face. If she had passed me on the street, I would not even have recognized her and walked right past. A few months ago, I checked her profile to see something my friends told me about her (what that is I will not disclose so as to protect anonymity, both hers and mine). And that is when the obsession started.

    I started checking her profile everyday. Slowly, I became obsessed, checking her profile multiple times a day. It grew and grew, the obsession, and I started thinking I am going crazy. I had begun comparing myself with her, feeling that she was just wholly better at everything than I am. She lives abroad, independently, whereas I have never left my hometown except for a holiday and have never lived by myself; she has a good job, whereas my job is… well something I hadn’t planned on getting into; she has a beautiful face and a hot body, and I am just… okay and am conscious of my body; she has seen more of the world, travelled to famous places I have only seen on the telly, and I have just seen a couple of places in my country; she has a degree from an abroad college, and I have only studied in my country; she works out beautifully, and me… yeah well I work out too but ehhh…; she keeps all her social media pages pretty organized, and mine seem to be messy; she has pretty clothes, seem to be prettier than mine; I have generalized anxiety disorder and panic disorder, she does not; I have IBS and have to be very careful with my diet, she does not and can eat whatever she wants; she seems to be much stronger than me, and I well… These are just some of the comparisons I make.

    This went on and on… And I realized I was being pretty mad at myself for no reason at all, constantly scolding myself mentally. It started taking a heavy toll on my self-esteem. I began hating my life. I began hating my self. There was nothing positive coming out of this. I started getting irritated with this obsession. Like… WTF GET THE F*** OUT OF MY HEAD!!!! I was tired of thinking about her. She was living rent free in my head. What for?

    What for? To answer this question, I sat myself down and introspected: Why the heck does she matter to me so much? I don’t know her personally. I actually know nothing about her except her name and what she shares on her pages. So why am I doing this? The answer came to me like a smack on my face: Envy. I was envious of her: I wanted what she had. I realized this stemmed from my own feelings of insecurity and inferiority. I was sort of “not good enough”. She was. I had always dreamed of being independent since childhood, and since I am not yet, it instilled in me a feeling of shame. Going abroad is a big fad where I’m from, makes you a sort of a big deal if you go abroad, and I stayed in my country for various reasons (my anxiety, attachments, etc.), again feelings of shame creeping in. And… And nothing. That was it. These two things were the root of my envy. I feel I like I lack these things, and she has them, so she is better than me.

    What a pile of BS! I decided this was ridiculous. It was ridiculous of me to make comparisons with somebody like that. Just these two things and I decide somebody is better than me?! This doesn’t add up. I do not like how this is making me feel. So what I did was break down all the comparisons. I imagined that a friend was saying these things to me, and I would respond to them like I would to a friend; I’ve found this roleplay helps me rationalize. So, I rationalized.


    She lives abroad, independently, whereas I have never left my hometown except for a holiday and have never lived by myself:

    And the reason for that is that my family involves only my mother; leaving her all alone did not seem like a good idea to me. We faced some family problems a couple years ago, and thank goodness I was here to support her through it. My anxiety surrounded my mother and my boyfriend. And that was okay. Yes, I am not independent, but that does not mean I am incapable of doing that. I just chose to be here, and I am fully capable of changing that. I have no way of knowing if her anxiety is what made her leave the country because she felt left out by not following the fad.


    She has a good job, whereas my job is… well something I hadn’t planned on getting into:

    But man am I awesome at my job. I don’t make a fortune, but I could always work on that. I have no way of knowing if she actually loves her job and is not just stuck in her field all life now.


    She has a beautiful face and a hot body, and I am just… okay and am conscious of my body:

    Actually, and it makes me uncomfortable saying this, I am quite pretty myself. I am not exaggerating, but I turn heads. I have a pretty decent body myself, and people ask me what I do to maintain it. Again, it makes me uncomfortable saying this, so I won’t go ahead here. I realized that the problem lied in me not liking and being comfortable in my own body, which has been a problem with me since ages. And I also realized, I would not exchange my face or body with hers should I get the chance.


    She has seen more of the world, travelled to famous places I have only seen on the telly, and I have just seen a couple of places in my country:

    That doesn’t mean that I can’t travel to places. I mean, I’m not dying tomorrow.


    She has a degree from an abroad college, and I have only studied in my country:

    Actually, she and I have the same level of education. The only difference is that she has studied abroad. That does not change the quality of education, does it? She didn’t go to an Ivy League school or anything. It’s just a college. I studied at one of the best colleges in my city. I love what I studied, I worked very hard, and I have no regrets. If I had to do it again, I would not change a thing.


    She works out beautifully, and me… yeah well I work out too but ehhh…:

    Why ehhh? I work out 6 days a week (albeit it has gone down to 3 in the pandemic lockdown). I work out mighty well myself. I am conscious of my diet. I look after my body. I just need to learn to love myself.


    She keeps all her social media pages pretty organized, and mine seem to be messy:

    I organized mine too. This was a good learning.


    She has pretty clothes, seem to be prettier than mine:

    I have pretty clothes myself actually. Except for a couple of her clothes, I would not buy her clothes if she had a garage sale. They’re not really my style. And what I like about her dressing style, nothing wrong in trying it out myself, yeah?


    I have generalized anxiety disorder and panic disorder, she does not:

    Yeah. I do. My days can be filled with anxiety, and I can find it difficult to push through. But this is something out of my hands. Her not having anxiety does not make her special. There are a gazillion people on the planet who don’t have it. I realized how strong I actually am. Also, I have no way of knowing what and if she suffers from anything at all.


    I have IBS and have to be very careful of my diet, she does not and can eat whatever she wants:

    Again, I have no way of knowing if she has any health troubles.


    She seems to be much stronger than me, and I well…:

    I know about her only what she shows on her page and what she says about herself on her page. I am pretty strong myself. I have no doubt about it.

    So you see, I rationalized. Another way I rationalized is using the logic Anita talked about. I see what she chooses to show me. She shows me she is having fun. I think her life is awesome. She may have cried herself to sleep that night. She openly talks about how strong she thinks she is. I think she is badass. I have no way of knowing if talking about herself this way is a way she feels better about her self and deals with her own insecurities. She shows me herself in her best clothes. I think she has amazing clothes. I have no way of knowing how many times she deliberately changed so she could look good in the picture, and what she wears when she knows she is not going to click a picture or shoot a video. She shows me she is working out. I think wow! I have no way of knowing if she stuffed 10 cookies after the workout. I have no way of knowing what happens behind the scenes, when the camera is off. I have no way of knowing what actually is up with her life.

    I also realized that I actually have an image of somebody I want to be, and I have plastered her face on that image, all because of what she and her life “seem” to be.

    To add to this rationalization, let me tell you something else. She had been posting about some things, telling people her opinion on that thing (a current affair thing, nothing bad/nasty), and I thought: OMG she is so stupid! That came out of nowhere, which was different because I had felt nothing but awe for her. And I can assure you, me thinking she is stupid was not only my envy talking, as some of my friends who actually have known her said the same thing: She’s so stupid!! Not only them, she had loads of people commenting and disagreeing with her (you probably would too if you read it). Her opinions were self-contradictory and incohesive and not at all based on facts. This showed me her thoughts, something you can’t see much on some social media. And to add to the fact that she shows me what she wants to show me, she kept deleting a lot of those comments. Now, all those posts are gone as well, so say somebody like me comes across her profile, they will never know her thoughts on that, again seeing what she wants them to see. Also, my friends who have known her told me she is very attention-seeking and is a self-proclaimed influencer (you would understand from her page too), kind of showing that she needs a lot of external validation, like so many of us do actually. No? So you see how all the posting fits in? She may be a narcissist, from what I hear about her and from what I saw when I looked at her page with a neutral mind. I also came to know some things about her, which I won’t disclose here, but it made me realize she is nothing special, and I realized I need to stop putting her on a pedestal. She’s only human, with good and bad, as I am. She is good, may be great, at some things. And so am I. She may have some wonderful qualities, which I can learn from. Things I like about her when it comes to fashion, I could try and see if it looks good on me too. Nothing wrong with absorbing positive things, like Deena said. Nothing wrong with some parts of her inspiring me. But I realized none of this means I am not worthy.

    This tornado of comparison and envy must end. Because say I do and achieve things that make me envious of her today, tomorrow, I will have a new envy, someone who has a bigger house or a better car or has a better wardrobe. It might never end. That is not something I want. We don’t live each other’s lives. We have different minds and bodies and upbringings. Comparison is simply unfair.

    And let’s just say that she is better than me in every way. I asked myself, “So what?” And the only answer I could come up with was… “So… nothing”. Really. It does not matter. At all. She does not matter. I do.

    To stop myself from opening her profile, I have uninstalled some apps. I am actively stopping myself from opening her page. I am actively reminding myself to not think of her and focus on myself every time I think about her. I am more important to me than her. No?

    I realize I need to work on my self-esteem. I need to raise my worth in my own eyes. And I am now taking tiny steps.

    I am sorry for this long post, but I hope it helps you. Thank you for reading it, if you have. That obsession is a terrible phase to be in, taking away so much time and energy. I also wrote this for myself, to get things off my chest. Nobody knows about all this, as I am too ashamed to talk about this openly. Not even my therapist. But maybe I should talk to her. This is the only place that gave me the courage to open up. If I hadn’t found your post, I would not have talked about this. I feel lighter, so thank you.

    Before I end this post, have you ever considered that you might be somebody’s “stalkee” too? That somebody checks your page everyday and goes: MY GOD I WANT WHAT SHE HAS!!? That somebody is trying to copy the way you wear your hair? Or scarf? Or somebody is trying to emulate your work ethic because that is one of the positives they see in you? I mentioned she followed me first, after years of meeting her, that too only for two hours. I have no way of knowing if she does exactly with my page what I do with hers. 😉

    It’s just this social media whirlpool…


    I think it’s ok to be interested in other people and even fall into that spell of wanting to see what they’re doing and keep up with the “story”, because that’s what it is on social media, a story. Just like Anita said, it’s like watching a movie. We all present ourselves in the best light online, I remember a quote that stuck with me about social media….”Don’t compare someone else’s highlights reel to your blooper reel”. It’s so true and we all do it. Don’t compare her accomplishments to your supposed shortcomings or “lesser” accomplishments. You mention that you both have an education, have traveled, work out, and more. I think instead of comparing yourself to her, try to be inspired and maybe set out to do some of the things she is doing that you admire. Maybe plan a longer trip abroad, or if possible, look for a job that would be more fulfilling.

    It sounds to me like seeing this woman’s social media is making you think less of your own accomplishments, and it shouldn’t. You still have time to accomplish more in life, you just need to plan and take that chance. If you feel you’re becoming obsessed with her in an unhealthy way, I’d suggest taking a break from her. Just pull the plug. You can always unfollow her or snooze her, so she doesn’t pop up on your feed. That break may even help you to reevaluate what you want without that pressure of comparison.

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