6.19.2009

Un(boy)friended

Eh, Facebook is pretty much useless if you can't track down old boyfriends from 20 years ago and say yo. Which is pretty much what I did when I tracked down the old boyfriend from 20 years ago and said yo.

It was an intense enough college relationship - we dated, we moved in together, we bought ugly furniture together, we endured his father's sad and sudden death together. When he wasn't a college student he was a musician with some local notoriety, and I spent countless nights nursing illegally procured White Russians in seedy Boston clubs while watching him materfully work the Zildjians, biding time until 3AM when he'd receive his $45 and I'd have the honor of helping him load his drum kit into his Isuzu Trooper. In return, he spent holidays being polite to my conservative relatives who garnered from his black hair and studded leather jacket that he would be stealing the silverware any minute now.

We never talked about marriage but we did joke that our kids would have great legs. We really did love each other. For a while. But we were young.

About three years into things and one unromantic trip to Italy later I had the sense it had all run its course. I remember crying progressively more than not each night, sneaking cigarettes on our cold terrace in the light of Fenway Park while he returned from shows later and later. It wasn't the life I wanted. I was on the yuppie track. I had even traded in the black hair and (eek) tail for a poofy 90s bob. Maybe the hair knows what the heart does not?

I landed back in New York after graduation and it didn't take long to accept that I had outgrown the relationship. Or perhaps we'd outgrown each other. And that was pretty much it.

God, that was a long time ago. A lifetime ago.

After my initial "yo" on Facebook, he told me in a couple paragraphs what he had been up to (wife of 18 years - the one he started dating after we broke up - new baby, new house in a new state) and I told him what I'd been up to (cat juggling, stint with the WWF traveling show). No reminiscing. No Hey, remember that time your band opened for Lena Lovich in Providence? No Hey, remember how your mom still bought you underwear? No Hey, remember how you used to want to spend Valentine's Day rehearsing with the band and it made me feel like crap for three years? It was fairly perfunctory.

So you can imagine my surprise to receive a curt response from him that it was nice to catch up but that his wife is uncomfortable with us having reconnected and he has to respect her wishes, the end, good bye, best of luck, see you later sucka.

I found myself promptly unfriended.

Unfriended!

It was probably a wise decision on his part. Because I am just that threatening, me with my saggy boobs and two kids and happy relationship. Really, I don't consider it a satisfying day until I've destroyed a marriage. I'm just that kind of a woman. Bonus points if they've got a cute four month-old at home and the wife is feeling flabby and insecure.

I live my life with one pinky toe in the past. I'm unapologetically nostalgic. I have some friends going back to infancy, and because I hate burning bridges, I am at least in occasional contact with the majority of guys I've dated. I'm not sure what I get from it exactly; sometimes it's a yardstick, a way of checking in on my own growth and seeing how far I've come. Sometimes it's more like a journey into a mental scrapbook, a brief visit with the past to jar good memories or funny stories, or help scrounge up some writing inspiration. Sometimes I think I just want them to tell me I turned out okay.

I did have a tail back then.


78 Comments:

Blogger Neil said...

I've never heard a story like that yet, but I guess it is inevitable. Social media helps reconnect us to the past, and those in the present who are insecure might have a problem with that.

6/19/09, 12:45 PM  
Blogger zchamu said...

The interesting part of finding old boyfriends on FB is that it tends to put paid to any residual "what ifs"? To see them on Facebook fat, bald and happy kind of makes me go, aww, that's nice.... and wow, I dodged a bullet there. So basically, finding them on FB makes me even *less* likely to be a "threat" to their relationship (as if I would be in the first place). So your ex's wife, while she has every right to say "nuh-uh", would probably find she had a whole lot less to worry about than she thought she did if she just let you catch up and fade away.

6/19/09, 12:47 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I found my old HS boyfriend on Twitter about a year ago. He's one of the main folks I converse with. We were really in love too, but way too young. He's married 21 years, 2 kids. I'm married 13 years, 2 kids. Do I want to date him? No. Are we having fun catching up as friends? Yes. Do we know each other really well? Yes, which is what makes it fun.

Would his wife like it? Probably not. I heard through the grapevine 15 years ago that she was threatened by our HIGH SCHOOL relationship (which was over 10 YEARS before that and she was already married to him when she found out about me) so she didn't like me. Um, ok.

DH knows that I'm in touch with my old friend from high school. That's all it is. Nothing more. C'mon, I'm old and saggy too. No threat there.

6/19/09, 12:51 PM  
Blogger AdamC said...

That guy's (still) a tool. You are a queen and a treasure. That's all. Next...

6/19/09, 12:55 PM  
Anonymous Alexis said...

I totally remember your tail!

How sad for that woman that she's so insecure! Chris is friends with all sorts of ex-girlfriends, and I'm friends with most of them too. Even if I were jealous, I would never give anyone the satisfaction of thinking that they threaten me!

6/19/09, 12:59 PM  
Blogger Devra said...

Join me for a White Russian at BlogHer and we'll toast that it's not about *us*. It's about *them* and most likely the lack of trust in their current relationship and not about the history we once had with their spouse.

Yeah, I have as story to tell...

6/19/09, 1:03 PM  
Anonymous Boston Mamas said...

Seriously, what *is* the point of FB if not to dredge up all sorts of interesting memories and reconnections? (That is, save one Mafia stalker ex-boyfriend who I blocked because really, he sends me enough correspondence as is.)

It's too bad that: a) his wife is that insecure; and/or b) he didn't have the cohones to say, "Chill, we've moved on... it's just innocuous reconnection and anyway, she's too busy on her laptop to even have an affair." (Unless affair would be in the form of you sending digital pictures.)

But whatever, if someone unfriends you it's not meant to be. Kinda like that relationship.

-Christine

6/19/09, 1:06 PM  
Blogger Momma Trish said...

He's probably still a nice enough guy. But he didn't marry well. Anyone that insecure should seek help immediately. It's good that he respected the wishes of his wife. It's just really pathetic and sad that those were her wishes.

6/19/09, 1:09 PM  
Blogger kateypie35 said...

That totally happened to me!!!!! I found an old boyfriend, from HIGH SCHOOL...we chatted, caught up, no biggie, right?

I already knew from the grapevine that he had married a much older woman. A mother figure who wears those holiday sweater vests.

Apparently she was none to keen on her man catching up with younger old flames (even saggy stay at home mom's like me). Not only did she forbid him to speak to me, she forbid him to have a Facebook account at all. After sending me a weird apology and "have a nice life" note, he promptly disappeared. Even his old male friends were cut off.

Ya gotta wonder about marriages like that.

Creeptastic.

6/19/09, 1:13 PM  
Blogger kristin said...

Meh, at four months postpartum, she's allowed to be a little insecure. I guess. I was pretty much a wreck right then.

6/19/09, 1:27 PM  
Blogger jennyonthespot said...

Girl. Yah.

I'm a nostalgic-type too. *shoulders up* :)

6/19/09, 1:32 PM  
Blogger Melanie said...

I bet her emotions are a wreck right now. I hated post-partum EVERYTHING. (Well, except maybe the gorgeous little baby I held.)

It happened to me too- although I was way prettier than his wife, so I didn't mind. It made me feel like I won, in some weird way.

6/19/09, 1:36 PM  
Blogger Miss Grace said...

I am cut of that same nostalgic cloth.

6/19/09, 1:38 PM  
Blogger R said...

that's just silly I think... but then again... I'm MARRIED to my highschool sweetheart, and we'll be seeing several of our old boyfriends and girlfriends tomorrow at our class reunion - no jealousy - we're still all friends... so I guess I can't really relate much in this aspect... still though - I'm thinking she's a bit insecure. and yes, I do have a problem with proper punctuation. sorry about that :)

6/19/09, 1:40 PM  
Blogger Heather M. in AL said...

I was friended on FB by an old flame, but we don't wall-post or message or anything. It's just nice to see his family and know he's happy. I think he feels the same. Unfortunately, my husband has a high school girlfriend virtually stalking our family through FB right now. She has friended me, my MIL, my SIL and posts all over their pages about how much she misses them (hello, it's been 20 years). They are all going to lunch today. Can you say AWKWARD for me? So my husband made me defriend her because we were kind of over the gushy love fest between the three of them. My husband says once a crazy, always a crazy. :)

6/19/09, 1:49 PM  
Blogger Homevalley said...

"Maybe the hair knows what the heart does not?" - Classic!

I am Facebook friends with most of my exes, and even some of my husband's, as he lacks a FB account. I am also shamelessly interested in where people have landed, and don't see any harm. Twenty years later your ex's wife takes issue with an online friendship? Perhaps there is more to the story... If not, yikes.

6/19/09, 1:50 PM  
Blogger adrienne said...

Doggone.

I recently read a dark side of the Internet article in some magazine lately where a woman discussed looking for an old friend ends up contacting an ex-boyfriend to find her.

There's a segue into relationship experts discussing why you should never ever consider contact with anyone you were ever romantically entangled with. The "expert" suggests that it is virtually impossible not to fall back in love with your old flame on the glorious love boat interwebs. It was cheesy and histrionic.

I wonder if his wife also read that article...

6/19/09, 1:53 PM  
Blogger Gina said...

I love this post. I, too, live with a pinky toe in the past and refuse to pull that puppy into the present. Sorry about the insecure wife, but it happens. Silly, but it does. You made me laugh throughout this whole post...thanks!

6/19/09, 1:57 PM  
Blogger Boy Crazy said...

The magic of Facebook...remember the days when all we had was Google? We could track those old boyfriends down and find PDF's of their research proposals or maybe a record of their arrest, but we had no chance to put up a cute profile picture of ourselves before sending them a friend request. How far we've come... :)

I get into trouble when I read through my old journals and *then* try to get in touch when I'm feeling all nostalgic. I do much better when I reconnect with an old love when I'm firmly rooted in the present.

But when my husband becomes FB friends with an old girlfriend, I have to look over his shoulder to see how cute she is. :)

6/19/09, 2:54 PM  
Blogger momtrolfreak said...

Same here! I've got an old college buddy that won't speak to me OR MY HUSBAND (?!?!) because he's not ALLOWED to. Way to go, pussywhipped much? We have a friggin THREE YEAR OLD. We're MARRIED. How threatening can I possibly be? And how dumb were you to tell your recent wife who you banged in college? Duh. Worst part is, we travel in the same circles so if a mutual friend posts something on FB, and he replies to it, I see the reply. Which always makes me want to post, "I'M WATCHING YOU, FUCKER!!! TELL YOUR WIFE I'M COMIN' TO STEAL HER MAN!!!" Sheesh.

6/19/09, 3:32 PM  
Blogger Motherhood Uncensored said...

Apparently a facebook "friend" has more meaning than I thought, which was, "Oh I know you, or knew you once, cool."

Sheesh.

6/19/09, 3:50 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I called off some communication between my husband and an old girlfriend because she was bringing up memories of a sexual nature (not that YOU were doing that, but SHE was!). I was QUITE uncomfortable with that. Some people do cross the line and since she doesn't know you, she may have been a little paranoid about something like that happening. Just an idea from my experience...

6/19/09, 3:52 PM  
Anonymous Julie @ The Mom Slant said...

That's what brought me back to FB. Hopeless nostalgia.

Now it's CMP that keeps me there. ;)

6/19/09, 3:53 PM  
Blogger Jomama said...

I have to comment here in defense of the wife and the exboyfriend. It is not necessarily insecurity. It is reality that online relationships can often facilitate, um, errors in judgment. Given the very high percentage of infidelity in marriage, I think the wife was right to request he discontinue. Especially if she does not know you personally. And he was right to respect her wishes. An ounce of prevention...don't take it personally.

I also think we should be less judgmental about the wife's request. Sure, it feels odd to be on the receiving end when you know you are not a threat. But I also have good friends whose husbands left for an affair with someone they did know. It happens.

6/19/09, 4:05 PM  
Blogger Mom101 said...

Jomama: I have to respectfully disagree that online relationships "often" evolve. I think sometimes they evolve, but the vast majority don't, as you can see from the comments here.

There's no need to nip a casual acquaintance in the bud unless perhaps the husband has a history of infidelity...or the wife has a history of raging insecurity. I'll withhold my judgment as to which is the case here.

But as Nate said to me (because he is evidently not the jealous type) instead of the "hi...hi...good to see you here" thing running its course and dying, she'll be left to always believe that she prevented some horrible marital breech from occurring. And therefore always believe that she has a husband who's capable of some horrible marital breech instead of allowing him to prove himself faithful and loyal on his own. That's kind of sad.

6/19/09, 4:33 PM  
Anonymous seadragon said...

I find it interesting that everyone seems to be assuming that the wife was threatened by Mom101 - that it has anything to do with her. We really have no idea what the ex-boyfriend's marriage is (or has been) like.

Sounds like the wife is simply insecure about her husband. (And whether that's warranted or not, it's really impossible to tell. And as Melanie pointed out, who knows what her post-birth emotional state is right now.)

But I agree - it is too bad for him (and you) that his wife was so uncomfortable about him being in touch with you. It would have been nice if it were otherwise.

6/19/09, 4:47 PM  
Blogger Jomama said...

OK, often is the wrong word. How about "could possibly"?

Think of it this way--you go through a metal detector at the airport. It is true that airline passengers are not "often" carrying weapons aboard. But it is a possibility, however remote. Anyone could be a terrorist. This is just a precaution. I have been frisked at the airport when I was carrying my 6 month old child in a baby carrier. I don't believe the security guards thought I personally was a terrorist, with my baby strapped to my chest. They were just following procedures.

Also, post-partum is a time when some spouses may wander. Not a reflection on you at all, and not a reflection on your ex. But every couple I know goes through a major seismic shift in their relationship when baby arrives. If there is a loss of intimacy at that time, there is a risk.

You have a knack for raising spirited discussion!

6/19/09, 4:50 PM  
Blogger Mom101 said...

I like spirited (if respectful) discussion!

I still think it's sad to be in a relationship where you're always imagining that your partner "could" wander. What a heavy, heavy emotional burden. I'd much prefer to operate from a position of trust than one of suspicion.

Good thing I don't work in airline security, huh.

6/19/09, 4:55 PM  
Blogger Jomama said...

And when you reduce the possiblities to either the husband having a history of wandering, or the wife having "raging" insecurity, that IS judging.

There is another possibility. Perhaps the wife has a perfectly reasonable concern about a possibility of infidelity. Not with you personally, but that it does happen sometimes, when people don't mean it to. Something that starts out innocuously can grow into something worse. Feed it with postpartum marital stress, and add in an old friend who "understands" him in a non-demanding way, and that is a risk. Perhaps not a great one from your side, but still there.

6/19/09, 4:56 PM  
Blogger Cagey said...

One pinky toe in the past? Am stealing that line, but will credit you for it. Perfect.

I just ran into an ex at Costco of all places. While feeding my two wee ones a hot dog. Awesome. The last time I saw him previously was when I was 9 months pregnant. Even more awesome. Eh. Whatever.

I like seeing old flames because it is sweet reminder of how happy I am that I am right where I am.

6/19/09, 5:00 PM  
Blogger Jomama said...

I am glad we can have an adult discussion about this. I love how you raise sensitive issues, like mommybloggers, and food fights with kids, and now FB, and present your case rationally. Your ability to not personalize the discussion makes this a valuable forum.

BTW, I was you 8 years ago. Infidelity would never happen in my marriage. He is a saint, loves me forever and would never hurt me. I know revealing this will make some people assume that I have a bias in reading into your experience. But the truth is, everyone has a bias on this. You either have had the experience or you haven't. And believe me, those of us who have lived through it never thought it would happen to us either.

Vigilence is the price of freedom, etc.

6/19/09, 5:02 PM  
Blogger Jaci said...

I don't think that it had anything to do with you or your intentions. That's all about the state of their marriage.

Maybe your ex cheated on his wife before and they both know he's not safe to be "friends" with a woman--especially an ex. Maybe she's heard about how wonderful you were throughout her entire marriage and does feel threatened. Maybe she is super hormonal and controlling right now.

Either way, you've got to respect a guy who loves his wife enough to un-friend someone she saw as dangerous to their relationship.

(Don't mind me...I'm in the midst of my own After the Affair sob story. I WISH my husband would have respected me enough to un-friend his co-worker. But, whatever. I guess I can see this from the wife's side.)

6/19/09, 5:25 PM  
Anonymous Sarah @ BecomingSarah.com said...

At least he gave you the chance to reconnect, right? I'm one of those horrible people who deletes the friend requests from old boyfriends. I feel like every time I do, I dodge a bullet.

That said, I'm just going to gander that his unfriending has nothing to do with you and everything to do with his relationship. You may not be a "threat" per se, but even though I don't perceive my ex-bfs as threats, I still refuse to friend them because of my relationship. My husband could probably care less, but it's important to me that there never be any reason for him to ever think in any corner of his brain that there might even be an inkling of a threat from my past.

So maybe it's something like that?

6/19/09, 5:59 PM  
Blogger Heather said...

I'm friends with all but one of my (4) exes on FB (all from my high school years, and not serious exes, and all but 1 because he's not on FB), and somehow we manage to be nice. Probably because we were so young when we were together. I did scare one of them though - my first boyfriend who gave me my first kiss - by telling him just how happy I am with my life now. I think he thought he had left me behind a shattered woman at 15.

6/19/09, 6:23 PM  
Anonymous Lucinda said...

I guess I'm just not seeing the ex or as being a tool for honoring his wife's request or the wife as a shrew for making the request. There are so many things we don't know here.

How is their marriage? How much time does he spend on the Internet? How much time does he spend with her? Did he cheat on her? So many factors as others have cited.

Plus, what if he's lying? Not saying he is but blaming the wife is easier than saying "hey, we have nothing in common anymore and I'm not interested in being in touch."

Yes, it would most likely have run it's course. But if it weren't for FB, you may likely not have ever heard from him again. We are applying social norms to a very new medium that allows us to find people we never would have found otherwise and perhaps would be best to not have found. So I don't think her response (assuming it is HER response) is so outrageously childish, insecure, whatever. It's simply not the response you would have chosen.

6/19/09, 6:31 PM  
Anonymous Arkie Mama said...

White Russians ... yum ...

OK, moving on --

My hubs and I have a secure relationship. I have a few exes on FB, and hell, his ex-wife is a part of our life together because of the kids.

That said -- our agreement is that if something makes the other one uncomfortable, we respect that and cease and desist.

In this case, there's no way to know what the wife is like, the state of their marriage or whether he's just not trustworthy. The reason is irrelevant. The fact is, something about the FB connection made her uncomfortable. Thus, he did a little unfriending.

Different couples have different boundaries. Respecting those boundaries is part of any healthy relationship.

OK, back to my White Russian fixation ... *sigh*

6/19/09, 7:53 PM  
Blogger Mrs. Q. said...

Wow. Obviously he had carried a significant amount of your baggage into his next relationship with his now wife. Take comfort in that, I guess. You're free! I cannot imagine making my husband 'unfriend' any of his exes, but since I'm not on Facebook and he is, maybe there's a whole lot of steamy cybersex going on. Meh.

6/19/09, 7:59 PM  
Blogger Midwest Mommy said...

Um I can see both sides. I have never connected with an ex on facebook. I don't think the hubs would think fondly of that nor would I if he did. huh, don't know, lol

6/19/09, 8:05 PM  
Blogger Mom101 said...

Wow so many strong feelings about this!

For the record, I respect his decision and his relationship and it's not important at all to me why it happened. I'd just never experienced anything like it - my expectation was that probably one more reply later we'd both say "well, nice catching up" and leave it at that.

It was sort of like shooting a relationship in the head three minutes before it was scheduled to die of natural causes.

6/19/09, 8:16 PM  
Blogger Jomama said...

OK, so I see your point on that one. I have to admit I am not really clear on the FB thing. I am new on it, myself. Setting aside the whole ex-boyfriend issue, I haven't really figured out the point of some of the connections.

If an old friend from high school friends me, I will accept, and we will shoot a few emails back and forth catching up. And then, as you say, it runs its course, and we don't really have a lot left to share. We live in different states, work different careers, have kids of widely varied ages and interests. And while I guess it is nice to see that they are relatively happy and healthy, we don't have much else to say to each other.

Except for the few political friends who post constantly on issues I should be concerned about, the daily humdrum stuff is...a little boring? And I bet my Wall updates about how we spent the weekend are equally un-enlightening for them. I gather from the storm of controversy today that actually taking the step of "unfriend"ing them had distinctly unfriendly connotations.

So what do you do with these old relationships on your FB account? Leave them there as benign flotsam in the friendship pool?

6/19/09, 8:56 PM  
Blogger Heather said...

I don't think any of my ex-boyfriends are on FB. If they were, I might "friend" them out of curiosity, but I think my husband knows me well enough to know that I would go no further. My husband is not online in any social media. It's just not an interest for him.

I have been in relationships in the past where I suspected cheating (boyfriends, not my husband) and I was right every time. I think it's sad that there are relationships like that where the parties are actually married. Why do those people get married then?

If this ex-boyfriend's wife suspects he COULD cheat and that was her motivation, she's probably right, in my opinion. That's not saying he did or is or anything, but if she has an inkling he could, he probably could.

I don't think that last paragraph makes sense to anyone but me. Sigh.

6/19/09, 9:03 PM  
Blogger Caffeine Court said...

You always hear these weird Facebook affair stories.

It happened to a friend of mine's brother. His wife reconnected with an old buddy and things got horizontal.

"The wife" must have heard one of those stories and the green eyed monster reared his ugly head!

6/19/09, 9:18 PM  
Blogger Mom101 said...

Jomama, you bring up an excellent point - at this point, social networking platforms are different things to different people. In our world (that would be blogging) it's just not a big deal to keep a huge virtual rolodex and interact with good friends, family, ex boyfriends, and blog readers all at once. To others we're all just a bunch of wackos to begin with.

6/19/09, 9:20 PM  
Anonymous stephanie said...

I'm not generally insecure, but it is a weird feeling for me to think about the possibility that he is friends with an ex in a semi-public forum like FB (I wouldn't do anything about it--just feels odd). Remember, he's not the only one who can see that you are friends....it's all his friends too, which could be awkward if suddenly his mom or one of their friends is asking about you in a real life social gathering. These FB "friendships" don't happen in a vacuum, and just because you can get back in touch doesn't mean you should--but then no one would describe me as sentimental so maybe I'm missing something.

6/19/09, 10:06 PM  
Blogger BeautifulWreck said...

My ex from 20 years ago that I was madly in love with and I reconnected on FB. He comments on my blog occasionally. My husband knows, his fiancee knows. In fact his fiancee and I have become friends. The people having the fits that we are now friends and are having dinner together and :::gasp::: helping her plan their wedding are our old friends who knew us back then. They think we are going to hook up and have some wild affair. Me, with saggy skin, a big ass, breasts to my csection scar and five kids getting naked in front of anyone other than my husband. I dont think so.

6/19/09, 10:18 PM  
Anonymous Jen said...

After my husband's college reunion, where I got to see/meet both of his college exes, one of them wrote him a long email (this predates facebook and myspace!). She sort of came at it from a "sorry we didn't really get a chance to talk" angle and then segued into the fact that she was separating from her husband and on and on.

My husband is very bad at noticing flirting or recognizing that sort of thing, but there was a clear invitation to "get to know you again" in this letter, along with regret that she didn't still know him, etc. I was mostly amused that he didn't see that (or didn't want to believe it) until I pointed out the progression of the email.

He wrote back once, basically saying how nice it was to see her and everyone else and describing how happy he was now with his wife and kids and wishing her the same. Seems she got the message.

But, I have to agree, that while most of these are very innocent and fun to get together with people you knew way back when, there are people out there trying to kick up old romances and re-start old things.

6/19/09, 10:23 PM  
Blogger Fairly Odd Mother said...

I've been "friended" by two ex's but have never been the initiator. I find it somewhat uncomfortable at first but I hardly ever use FB, so it's no big deal. I can't imagine my husband telling me *not* to talk to someone. Likewise, he can friend an ex and it's ok with me. Perhaps we just trust that our intentions are innocent.

6/19/09, 10:24 PM  
Anonymous Redneck Mommy said...

I have a lot of ex-boyfriends on facebook. For the most part, it's just nice to reconnect. I haven't had an issue with them at all.

Several of their wives have had issues with me tho.

Cuz I am a raging man stealer on the facebook, I suppose.

Whatever. I dumped those dudes for a reason anyways. Heh.

I have had to unfriend a college acquaintance or two who, upon discovering my husband works out of town, thought that was an invitation to start cyberstalking me and becoming very aggressive and sexual with me.

My favorite was when one such dude (who knew my husband and thus my married name) looked up my phone number to harass me at home only to have my husband answer the phone.

He never called again after that.

When Boo snarls, he snarls mean.

Heh.

6/19/09, 10:26 PM  
Anonymous She Likes Purple said...

Here's my take, for what it's worth. I am friends with my husband's ex-girlfriend. Great friends, actually. Friends who travel together and throw showers for one another and talk very, very regularly. Another of his exes I'm friendly with. Friends on Facebook, friends on Twitter, invited to our wedding and vice versa. So ... I feel I have some experience to speak from. Jealousy is normal. Insecurity is normal. But telling your husband to de-friend anyone (via social media or otherwise) isn't going to make you feel more secure in the relationship, it's going to temporarily give you a false sense of assurance. If your husband is going to cheat on you with an ex or someone else, if he's going to flirt inappropriately with a woman who is not you, then all the monitoring in the world isn't going to stop it, it's going to prolong it. Pre- and post-partum is a slightly different story only in so much as the jealous/insecure feelings are understandable. She's not feeling her best, she's worn down, exhausted, has probably screamed at him more in the last four months than the rest of the relationship combined. I could easily forgive/overlook all that. But as soon as it extends to you, and she's actually told him to de-friend you, it's more than just heat-of-the-moment insecurities.

I think what's sad is we all have our histories, and we shouldn't have to sacrifice them in order to have happy and lasting relationships. We should be allowed to honor them and even maintain the friendships because if they do eventually compromise our marriages/current partnerships then it was going to happen anyway. It's not as if someone is the love of your life only if someone else stays out of the picture. Someone is either committed or they're not. Period.

6/19/09, 10:30 PM  
Anonymous laurie said...

This is so timely given the borderline inappropriate messages I'm getting out of the blue from an ELEMENTARY SCHOOL classmate I haven't seen since Ronald Reagan was president - quite the opposite of the nice message you were trying to send. The past comes at us in widely divergent ways.

I think you're right Liz about the different perceptions and expectations of communicating this way and what it means. I interact on FB primarily with my friends from high school, who also happen to be largely uninvolved with tech stuff otherwise. There is a level of drama attached to "friending" and what that entails that I haven't seen elsewhere.

My most serious ex and I are not Facebook friends, even though we have a bunch of mutual connections. Awkward, but it ended badly and I have no interest in seeing what's up with him and the new squeeze. Plus he was on there way before I was and pointedly did not acknowledge my arrival regardless of our mutual friends. I wish it were different but at least for now, no thanks. Other exes are not on there at all, at least not where I can see them - and given that I found out one of them was cheating on me via e-mail and chat messages left on my computer screen, I'm super sensitive to cyber connections. ;)It changed the way I feel about online relationships forever after, although like you, I always hope that trust is strong enough to carry you through. So often that's not the case though - sad.

At least the first love of my life and his wife and I are good friends, which is great, but that's an in-person thing.

As you can see this is an evolving issue for many - new playing field, new (and very random) rules.

6/19/09, 10:46 PM  
Blogger Life As I Know It said...

I think it depends on the ex. If it was a very serious relationship where you loved each other very much, I would think it is better to leave it alone. I can understand why the wife would be threatened if she knows her husband was truly in love with you, because if you really love someone, do you ever really fall out of love? If Facebook or these other networks weren't around, would you call him up on the phone after 20 years to check-in? I'm sure you're as happy and stable in your marriage as you say--but what if your ex and his wife aren't? Pretty deep stuff, eh? :)

6/20/09, 12:49 AM  
Blogger Karen MEG said...

Mom 101 fb comment

Okay, I had a brilliant comment that didn't take grrrr!!!!

Long story short, I can see the point of his wife if HE still has unresolved feelings for you. This sorta happened with me, in reverse.

My HS ex found me on FB through mutual friends and e:mailed me (without friending); we exchanged pleasantries, caught up after over 20 yrs. (We had a typical teen/20s rollercoaster relationship which I finally ended - but it wasn't mutual. I wanted out; he proposed.)

But then his e:mails got a bit overly complimentary (my husband thought they were nice, but I didn't think my ex's wife would appreciate them)... and then he sent me a late message on Christmas EVE, when I thought he should be with his wife and not e:mailing an ex. And then he wanted to friend me.

I thought it sorta creepy, so I ignored him. Don't wanna go through that whole weirdness with him again, once was enough!

I have no problems with exes as friends (my hubs and his first serious girlfriend still get together for lunch every so often and I like her and her family a lot). But FB can complicate life a bit sometimes, in my case anyway!

6/20/09, 1:18 AM  
Blogger Joy! said...

Oh my, FB doesn't want to let the past be past, does it? It's so tangled dealing with ex-s, even more so than pre-internet when one could avoid each other more easily.

One semi-ex contacts me *only* when both he and his wife are feeling secure. So he won't respond to a hi-how-are-you-these-days email, but *years* later, he'll send you a very cheery Christmas letter all about their wonderful life. He sent me a FB invite (also apologizing for not writing back years ago-ha, yeah), and I am *still* debating whether it's a good idea. Part of me doesn't want to get dragged into the cycle again, and part of me thinks, eh, it's just my extended community.

I've friended a couple of ex-s on FB, but only those who I still tolerate after both sides have moved far beyond the past. I have an invisible line that we don't cross - no talking about the emotional past, no flirtation. I have a few other ex-s that I'd never *talk* to, much less befriend on FB. And a few ex-friends as well. ;)

On the other side of it, a college friend who had a crush on me contacted me a few years back... we even got together with spouses once, me thinking we could keep it light and non-threatening. This guy is really tone deaf, though; his wife clearly does not like it, and he contacts me anyway. So I've deliberately let our correspondence slide.

It's made me realize that although my husband tolerates some contacts, he's not crazy about it either. He would never tell me to *not* keep in touch with someone, but I think it hurts him sometimes. So I am leery of accidentally doing damage. If nothing else, I share any ambivalence about contacts with ex-s with my husband because I don't like anything hidden between us. I think it would be more damaging to hide a contact. I am all for being upfront about ones feelings with ones spouse and protecting the primary relationship, even someone else's. I try to remember that when someone avoids me to protect their spouse. It is incredibly annoying when they make a huge deal about it, though!

6/20/09, 2:41 AM  
Anonymous MDTaz said...

I suppose another option of the Mrs. of your Ex would have been to make lots of cozy "aren't we happy, my pumpkin" comments on his FB page, so you'd see them in your updates. If she's got to put a stake in the ground.

I've friended some exes on FB and other media, and so has my beau and we're both very cool about it. I suppose that's what trust is about. Still, I'd be lying if I didn't admit that there's a wee little part of me that cringes ever so slightly at the sight of one their names. I get over it in a second. But it still happens.

6/20/09, 4:57 AM  
Blogger Mom101 said...

@Life as I Know It: Do we ever really fall out of love? HELL yeah. I'm not sure how old you are, but a lot can happen in 20 years. Life is not generally like The Notebook.

@She Likes Purple: I think I love you.

6/20/09, 5:07 AM  
Blogger Wendy said...

Yeah, I totally see you as a predatory homewrecker. (not!) ;)

6/20/09, 9:26 AM  
Blogger Jomama said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

6/20/09, 2:47 PM  
Blogger Jomama said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

6/20/09, 2:54 PM  
Blogger SUEB0B said...

Heck, you're enough to scare any wife of 18 years! Smart, talented, beautiful, funny as hell! I'd tell him to unfriend you, too.

6/20/09, 5:49 PM  
Blogger the mama bird diaries said...

No way! No way! Man, that's crazy. I'm very nostalgic too. I like to stay in touch with ex-boyfriends too. Because these are guys I once loved and I like to know they're ok and I'm ok and we're happy leading our separate lives.

6/20/09, 11:20 PM  
Blogger Life As I Know It said...

How old am I? Ouch! I guess that means I should burn all five (give or take) of my copies of The Notebook :), which is apparently my age demographic's bible? All I was getting at is that not all women are as secure in themselves, their partner or their relationship as women as obviously grounded as yourself. His loss.

6/21/09, 12:14 AM  
Blogger Jomama said...

Not every affair that breaks up a marriage starts out because untrustworthy people are out there looking to cheat on their spouses and stalking FB for cybersex.

Yes, some affairs are between terrible people who don't take their vows seriously.

But some start with friendships, whether online or in real life, that were perfectly innocent.

And no, I am not saying FB or other social media by themselves cause infidelity. Spouses can cheat at work or in a real life social setting too, I know that.

Here is what is different about online social media: It fosters emotional intimacy, but at a supposedly safe distance. Mom101 probably would never have searched out this old flame, and called him every night at his home to share details of your daily life. Too weird, right?

But how easy was it to find each other online? And stay connected. And maybe not now, probably not ever, but that link is there. When his marriage has problems (and what marriage doesn't), there is an old (girl)friend whom he has a history with, who understands him, who makes no demands on him, so easy to talk to, right on his FB page.

And he can reach out to that person right from home. Or from work. Mrs. doesn't know who he is talking to or for how long, or about what. It is a hidden relationship, despite the semi-public nature of the medium.

If he "worked long hours at the office", or had to go out every night to hang with the guys, there is a chance his wife would notice there was a problem. But online? Hey, I'm only on FB, what's the issue? Why should you care that I have friended an old girlfriend, honey? Look at the reactions in these comments, ridiculing the wife and the ex for taking the precaution of removing this possible temptation.

To me, this is kind of like gun control. I believe that the fewer guns out there in my world, the lower the odds that someone I care about will be hurt with one.

Others will argue that you only need to keep guns away from irresponsible people or people with bad intentions. The rest of us are all trustworthy and responsible, and we should not have to lose our right to bear arms just because a few bad people will abuse them.

For the ex and his wife, for whatever reason they may have, his connection to old girlfriends on FB is a potential gun.

This is not about Mom101 at all. It is about them keeping their marriage safe. I applaud her for feeling SECURE enough about her husband to make the request, and know he would not ridicule her for it. And I applaud him for honoring her request.

The ex and his wife are just keeping their world safe, and we should all respect that. What is the loss of a casual FB relationship, which would have run its course anyway, compared to preserving a marriage?

(And no, I am not saying Mom101 would have wrecked the marriage)

6/21/09, 1:46 AM  
Blogger Amy said...

On some level I respect him for telling you what was going on before he un-friended you and on another I think he's lame for blaming his wife (which I do not believe for a minute) for his not wanting to be connected to you. Clearly he hasn't moved into a place where he is comfortable communicating with his you. Sad for him.

For years I wanted nothing to do with my past. High school, college? They were thorns in the sides of my memories. But my husband? He donates money to every school he has ever attended. He drags me to reunions. He considers everyone he has ever slept with to be a friend. Really all pretty admirable stuff. So two years ago he dragged me to my 20th high school reunion. It was the first communication I'd had with most of the people there since graduation. And you know what? It was nice. I didn't feel all the insecurity or embarrassment that I had been avoiding for 20 years. Why didn't I confront this sooner I wondered? It was liberating. To realize that I had moved on and so had (just about) everyone there.

Enter FB. It feels like the red thread that connects my past to my present -- the yard stick by which I measure my growth. And you know what? There's been quite a lot of growth and thank heavens for that. Old boyfriends? Bring 'em on.

6/21/09, 9:55 AM  
Blogger Mitzi Green said...

so weird...i recently wrote a very similar post on my own blog (maybe even the same day as yours). gotta love nostalgia.

6/21/09, 1:16 PM  
Anonymous She Likes Purple said...

Jomama: See, I feel this is taking the responsibility off of one another and putting the blame on social media or the Internet or "the loaded gun." Sure, these days it's "easy" to check in on old loves but the relationship ended for a reason. If it didn't work back when there was daily, physical contact then let's not give Facebook the credit for it working today. I think the bottom line is, if you're happy in your partnership TODAY, it doesn't matter if a train of super models comes through your living room each night; you and your partner know that what may seem fleetingly appeaing isn't worth breaking up a marriage, a family, a life. And if there were holes in the foundation ANYWAY it doesn't matter if there is Facebook or MySpace or a high school reunion, the partner is going to find a way to betray (whether with his secretary or with the girl down the street or with his ex-girlfriend from a million years ago). I have fond memories/feelings from my high school boyfriend, and, SURE, I'd love to see how he is, how he's doing, how all the pieces fell into place for him, but would my husband have something to worry about if he were to come back into my life? God, I hope not. Because if SO, that means all that I have been building with my husband for the last six years wasn't very sturdy to begin with. It was capable of being knocked over with one person walking back into the picture. And I don't think that says anything about how I feel about my ex but how I feel about my husband.

Also, I gotta say, if my husband spent hours upon hours on Facebook, it would be the same red flag as if he were spending days upon days working late. When you check out of home and check into anything else (work, friends, hobbies, what have you), a red flag goes up. If you are choosing ANYTHING over your family, there's a reason.

6/21/09, 9:18 PM  
Anonymous Michelle-WhiteTrashMom said...

Clearly she was jealous of your hotness. That would be my story anyway.

6/21/09, 10:02 PM  
Blogger gretchen said...

So far, I am Facebook "friends" with SIX old boyfriends. When I found each one of them I had a little heart fluttering, checked out their pictures, had a whole "what if?..." thought process. Then the same thing happened with each of them. Within a week of "message" conversations, it suddenly flooded back to me why I had BROKEN UP WITH THEM IN THE FIRST PLACE! It was both disappointing and gratifying to realize that I had better judgment in my youth than I thought I'd had!

6/22/09, 12:00 PM  
Blogger Jessica said...

I'm sooo late on this, but just had to tell you that ypu might have given me the courage to blog about something I have been turning over in my mind for a while now.

Your posts always entertain, generally create an amazing dialogue, and inspire most of us.

I heart you.

6/23/09, 10:55 PM  
Anonymous Bea said...

Thank you. I am also 'facebook friends' with most of my exes. And happily married. How does that work? My first love and I talk often, but my 'future husband' of college days recently de-friended me. Ouch.

6/24/09, 5:41 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"Maybe the hair knows what the heart does not?" That could be the funniest sentence I have read in a long time. What a hoot.

I gotta side with the wife on this one though. Whats the point of renewing the friendship? Although he could have just let it go instead of blaming it on the wife.

6/24/09, 9:46 AM  
Blogger Mom101 said...

I find it fascinating in this discussion to see how differently people can perceive the same situation based on their own circumstances. Some people understand the joy of saying hi, catching up then moving on. Some people see that as a (DAHN DAHN DAHHHHHHN) stepping stone to something more sinister.

I have two jobs, three animals, a guy I love, a blog to write, and two kids to myself six nights a week, and a rigorous reality TV watching schedule. Trust me, I'm not emailing ex-boyfriends every day.

6/24/09, 10:03 AM  
Blogger NYCity Mama said...

I love that wifey felt threatened. Aside from the fact that he was obviously a sucky boyfriend, he must've said something in those 18 years of marriage, to hint to the fact that you are, as we all know, amazing. Any insecure person, unsure of the strength of their own marriage (and of herself) would be threatened, regardless of your lack of need or desire to venture into loserville. lol! Funny. No loss, but now you are reminded saggy boobs or not, some chicks shake at the sight of you. Whatevs. girl, that's what I would be thinking as I walk around with a big ol' "I'm the shit" smile on my face.

6/25/09, 3:56 PM  
Blogger NYCity Mama said...

Also wanted to add, ex-girlfriends "friend" my hubby on FB all the time. I don't blame them. He's a nice guy. Who wouldn't want to be his friend? Sometimes it is what it is and nothing more.

6/25/09, 3:59 PM  
Anonymous beth said...

Umm well, my ex looked me up after 20 yrs on FB...and, well, though we are both married, we had an affair. So sorry, ladies. I am not proud. Just putting a little perspective on this.

6/26/09, 12:12 AM  
Anonymous Kristen said...

I made my husband friend his lesbian ex-wife and his straight ex-girlfriend on Facebook so I could snoop into their lives. Turns out the ex-wife was getting ready to publish a tell-all book featuring my husband and their marriage and the ex-girlfriend was getting married that next Saturday.

I do believe I got the information I wanted.

6/26/09, 9:51 PM  
Blogger La Petite Belle said...

i would take it as a compliment. you are so hot that you are a threat. ;)

7/1/09, 9:57 AM  
Anonymous Frema said...

Hmmm. I see She Likes Purple's point about the state of a relationship not being very strong if a Facebook connection can threaten it. I also think your ex made a bigger show of unfriending you than was probably necessary. (At least you got a thought-provoking blog post out of it!) But I tend to subscribe to Jomama's gun control analogy. Generally speaking, there is nothing wrong with someone creating a safe space for their marriage, because I do agree that social networking sites allow for reconnecting with people on an intimate level from a safe distance. People are inherently flawed, and there is a high divorce rate in this country for a reason. "The road to hell is paved with good intentions" and all that.

My two serious ex-boyfriends are on Facebook, and I have purposely not friended them. It's not because I'm not madly in love with my husband or that I think Facebook is capable of breaking up my marriage. However, those relationships were very intense, and it took me a while before I could get out of them and move on with my life. As curious as I am to know how those guys are doing, I don't think I can open that can of worms without getting sucked into the past at least a little bit.

Just like e-mail, IM, and any other networking tool, Facebook is another medium through which people can make poor choices. I think it's possible to acknowledge that without assigning blame to social media as a whole.

Finally, random FYI: I'll be attending BlogHer Business and the general conference in Chicago later this month. Would love to say hi!

7/1/09, 4:13 PM  
Blogger Jillian Livingston said...

I followed you over here from Twitter and I was very impressed with your 77 comments, a goal that I am aspiring to achieve.

Anyway, I thoroughly enjoyed your post about ex boyfriends. I also got in touch on FB with an ex who I dated when I was living the Aspen single life.

I was madly in love with he and his leather jacket when I met him http://www.isdisnormal.com/2009/04/02/remembering-all-of-my-ex-boyfriends/. The difference is that I was the one who had to email him and tell him that I could not continue our renewed friendship because I was feeling that I was not being true to my beloved husband. It was sooo difficult for me to stop our correspondence and I had withdrawal but in the end...I think it was a good thing.

Thanks for sharing, Jillian

8/27/09, 1:49 PM  

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