Valentine's has arrived and while love may be in the air, it's much more interesting to follow its trail online.
A day dedicated to romance usually sets a few hearts racing, but sends a lot more hearts toward Facebook and Google to find out what happened to their ex-girlfriends, boyfriends, wives or husbands. This, it turns out -- the day before Valentine's day -- is a prime day for using the Internet to learn a little more* about your old flames.
*"Cyberstalking" just sounds so unpleasant. Though of course that's exactly what it is.
So what are we really looking for when we go hunting for pics of and info about our exes?
1. Are they hot?
Duh. From the first moment that photos appeared on the Internet, their primary purpose has been to judge people's looks. And whose looks do you want to judge more than you ex's? Of course this is why you're cyberstalking them. In real life, there might have been other things, in addition to their looks, that also attracted you to your ex. A nice sense of humor. Good manners. Kind to pets, the elderly and your mom.
But that's not the attraction now. Can't be. A person's sense of humor and all that other stuff is kinda hard to quantify with a Google search. Know what isn't hard to quantify with a Google search? If they're hot.
2. Who did they end up marrying? Who are they dating?
Clearly you were too good for your ex. Whether you did the dumping and have known this all along, or you were dumped, and your rage has by now morphed into an empowering sense of superiority, clearly they will never again find someone as amazing as you.
But just in case... you search. And compare yourself to their new somebody. Who you can find a dozen incontrovertible faults with by the time the page has finished loading. Everything is confirmed -- congratulations, you win again.
3. Do they have any kids?
Because back when the two of you were staying out till 3 a.m., stumbling out of bars and looking everywhere for the car keys it turns out your ex had left in the pocket of a jacket which was itself left in the arms of a bathroom attendant who's still standing around waiting for it to be reclaimed, the last thing you ever thought was, "Wow, she's going to make an awesome mother one day."
The photos then of your ex lovingly holding a child who, by all appearances, looks remarkably well cared for, are completely mind-blowing.
4. Did they move away? Or... are they still local???
Settle down, stalker. Maybe your ex really is "the one that got away" (Nos. 1 and 5 on our list should go a long way toward helping you decide), and it's become increasingly clear that you wouldn't have to go all that far to try and get them back. Maybe you've even found an address. Maybe you just mapped directions from your house to theirs, noticed it's only 11.6 miles and 19 minutes (in traffic) away and had your mind fill with brilliant plans. Maybe you're about to get up and grab your keys. Maybe you need to STOP THIS RIGHT NOW.
On the other hand, perhaps your ex has moved far, far away. This is probably for the best, weirdo.
5. What are they doing for a living?
And, specifically, does your ex appear successful enough that you need to bother agonizing over your breakup?
If you did the dumping, this is a hold-your-breath moment as you glimpse into the future you forfeited: "I hope he's still living with his parents, I hope he's still living with his parents, I hope he's still living with his... DAMMIT! Doctor."
But look on the bright side: He's put on a few. And, frankly, his wife has terrible hair and his kids aren't all that cute and his big house doesn't appear to have much of a backyard and he watches "Two and a Half Men."
Congratulations -- you win again. Happy Valentine's Day, indeed.
Follow Jonathan Anker on Twitter @JonFromHLN
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