The breakup of an intimate relationship is a highly distressing event among emerging adults (Cutler, Glaeser, Norberg, 2001) and can often be accompanied by difficulty adjusting to the loss and “letting go” (Mearns, 1991). Research on stalking and cyberstalking behaviours address criminal activities that incite fear in a target (e.g., Spitzberg & Cupach, 2007). Little is known about more general post-relationship contact and tracking (PRCT), that is, efforts to maintain or re-establish contact with an ex-partner or to track their whereabouts, new partnerships or activities. To understand both the use and experience of PRCT, we examined reports from 271 Canadian emerging adults (aged 18–25) regarding their most recent breakup within the prior year. Results indicated that online and offline forms of post-relationship contact and tracking were common, characterizing 87.8% of all recent breakups, and were typically used in conjunction. In fact, online forms rarely occurred in isolation. Attempts to keep in contact were most commonly reported by users and targets of behaviours, whereas extreme and threatening behaviours that might comprise stalking or cyberstalking were rare. No gender differences were found in the use of PRCT behaviours, although women reported experiencing more offline forms.


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pp. 96-105
Launched on MUSE
Open Access
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