Facebook and Ex’s

Facebook, and indeed all social networking sites, are fascinating from a sociological standpoint. I bet psychology and sociology researchers are drooling in anticipation to study and data-mine everything that’s going on with those sites. One thing that I quickly realized when Facebook started to explode was the issue of the Ex’s. As in, ex-girlfriends. Life is all about cycles, and for a while you might date a woman (in my case), be involved with her circle of friends and family, and then that cycle either becomes permanent (marriage) or it ends and you begin a new cycle with someone new. I’m generalizing of course, but that’s usually how it works.

Sites like Facebook take those cycles, throw them in a super-blender, and make it messy! Ashley (my wife) and I had this discussion early on when the first ex-girlfriend invited me to be her friend on Facebook. First, it shocked the hell out of me to see her name and photo in my Facebook Inbox – I hadn’t seen her in about eight years, so it was bizarre to have her appear in my life again (even in only a virtual way). Ashley and I talked about what would happen, and what could happen, if we accepted our ex’s back into our lives. We talked about what good could come of it (not a whole lot) and the dangers of it to our marriage (a whole lot). Ultimately this isn’t about thinking our marriage isn’t strong enough to handle either of us chatting with ex’s (it is), it’s more about avoiding risks that we don’t have a good reason to take – we live in a divorce-prone society, so why tempt fate by introducing such factors? It’s all too easy to bring back memories and feelings from the past, and that’s not a healthy thing for a marriage.

In case this wasn’t already obvious, the reason I’m writing this today is that I finally got around to sending messages to the two ex-girlfriends that had sent me requests on Facebook. The first one I declined several months ago without a reason (I felt kind of bad about that), and the second one was more recent, which prompted me to craft a response that I’ll now send to any ex-girlfriend that contacts me. And, no, I haven’t had that many girlfriends in my life, so I don’t expect to be sending it out all that often. πŸ˜‰

What about you? How does this issue impact you?

  • Neil

    WSJ just did an article about something similar, and Slashdot picked it up. http://online.wsj.com/public/article/SB118617307271187661.html?mod=blogs.

    As for me, I love my reject button on Facebook. It’s not like those on the other end know anything other than you never accepted it. Reject away!

  • Hah! Great article you found! Very interesting, I now realize Ashley and I keep very separate digital lives (different email accounts, I have this blog, etc.) but some things are unavoidable (Zip.ca only has one queue). We’re merged in the important ways though – our bank accounts, credit cards, etc.

  • djpurple

    Would you mind sharing that response you crafted?

  • djpurple,
    It wasn’t anything special – I simply said that I was declining their friend request because my wife and I agreed that we wouldn’t accept friend requests from people we were involved with previously. Ultimately you have to come up with wording that works for you – it has to be authentic. πŸ™‚

  • djpurple

    Thanks Jason! πŸ™‚

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  • Jeri

    Good analysis on “avoiding risks that we don’t have a good reason to take.” Wish more people had this way of thinking and focus that much more on their own current marriage. The world would be a better place this way for sure.

    I have been in a relationship with someone for 2.5 years now. His ex-wife (no kids between them), who has been his fb friend for 3 years and been remarried to someone else for 6, still comments on his wall at times with mention of some memories of their old marriage, visible to the eyes of a few hundred people put together. No respect and honor to her current husband and to the relationship her ex and I have now, is what I think about her actions.Β