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Jun 05 2012

Friends with exes on Facebook?

Recent amendment: When I mean ex, I refer to recent exes or random hookups. Not exes from a long time ago (ie. more than 8 years or so) or high school relationships.

It’s a question that’s been asked many a time. But now I’m conducting a highly-scientific official poll that will determine the answer once and for all: Should you be friends with exes on Facebook after you’re married?

I’ve made my opinions pretty clear before. I actually don’t even believe there is ever any case where you should remain friends with an ex. It’s messy, it’s complicated, and it’s not worth the hassle. If I liked you enough, you wouldn’t be an ex, now would you?

For the ones who think that it’s completely harmless to be friends with exes on Facebook, how do you explain the statistics of Facebook being listed as causes for divorce? Twenty percent of divorces involve Facebook and 80 percent of divorce lawyers have reported a spike in the number of cases that use social media for evidence, according to a 2010 survey by the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers.

Why tempt yourself?

Here’s the thing: I know I’m a jealous freak. I’ve got the feisty Latin blood in me.

But I just don’t see the point of being Facebook friends with someone you once had intimate relations with–in more ways than one. Above all my reasons, my top reason being it’s a sign of respect.

I understand you can be one of those cool wives who’s all “It doesn’t bother me, I trust my husband” yadda yadda yadda. But I don’t think this is a trust issue at all. I think it’s a respect issue. And I don’t see the point of being Facebook friends with someone you once saw naked.

Agree? Disagree? Discuss.

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37 comments

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  1. City Girl Stef Woods

    I think a lot of this depends on communication, geography, age and whether there was any ambiguity with any of the exes. I’ve told The Man that I want to know who he’s in touch with. He’s told me he doesn’t want to know. At the end of the day, though, we both trust each other and know that no lines will be crossed. I’m 39, and he’s 41. Neither of us were ever even engaged, and we’ve both lived in DC for the majority of our lives. We’re bound to run into exes all the time. For us, it’s easier not to make a big deal about casual communication.

    There’s no right or wrong, though. If one party cares, then it matters. Period. xoxo

  2. IntrigueMe

    I’m with you on this, Erika.

    The only ex I have on FB is my first love from when I was 17. We went several years without talking and re-connected on a completely platonic level. We rarely talk and when we do it’s a brief “happy birthday” or “I love what you did to your kitchen” PUBLIC comment on FB. We respect each other, we respect each others significant others, and we keep our distance. If we were sending private emails on FB, it would be a problem.

    I’m thankful that my boyfriend doesn’t really have many ex’s… though there is this one girl on his FB who lives in his old city and crushes on him, that’s written some flirty things in the past (before me) and I think she might have to go if she’s not careful… LOL.

  3. Emily @ evolvingPF

    I am FB friends with nearly everyone I’ve dated (one guy doesn’t use FB), and my husband is FB friends with his two ex-girlfriends. The FB connection reflects our IRL relationships – we have stayed friends or acquaintances with all of the people we’ve dated and invited several to our wedding. This is a non-issue for us.

  4. Cindy CF

    I am FB friends with one ex husband (babydaddy). That’s mostly for sharing pictures and such. I am also still friends with his entire family. We don’t use FB for communication though. Just file sharing.

    I am not friends with ex husband #1. He is still real life friends with my family (together 12 years) but he and I only speak maybe once a year on the phone. These conversations can take place in a room full of people, nothing intimate. Mostly catching up on each other’s families.

    I am friends with a few high school exes. But none of them saw me naked. ;-p We communicate on each other’s walls, comment on status, but no private communication.

    My fiance is not friends with any exes. Any h.s. or college girls he slept with who try to friend him he ignores. He is friends with casual dates from h.s. only.

  5. KendraD

    Haha, it’s clearly a hot topic, regardless of when or where the exes are from. And you’ll always have a multitude of different feelings. Here’s my take, for what it’s worth.

    Marriage is between two people and only those two people. If being friends with an ex on facebook causes any kind of rift whatsoever or adds another person to your relationship with your spouse, then it is causing a problem. It’s not necessarily a trust or maturity issue on the part of either spouse, sometimes it’s that third person that can be the problem.

    For my husband and I, his ex was the problem. Not me not trusting him. Not him not being mature enough to handle it. But her not being mature enough to be just friends with him. They broke up out of a 1.5 year relationship, both of their first serious relationship, about a week before he and I met. I know she asked him to get back together with her a month later and he told her he was head over heels for me and it wasn’t happening.

    But they stayed friends on facebook. She would message him and ask his advice on guys, law schools, and tests. He responded to direct messages only and never volunteered anything about our lives together. But, no matter how long it took him to respond to her, she always sent a message back within an hour. Which is freaky when you realize that we lived in Germany, and were 9 hours ahead of her time wise. She also couldn’t stay within the boundaries he set. She sent me a message one time telling me how important he was to her and that he’d always be an important part of her life. Our first Christmas she sent us an odd compilation Christmas gift that included a Christmas ornament that was an inside joke to their dating history (seriously, never loved my husband more than when he threw that thing away without even asking about putting it on our tree). After we met her for dinner in her hometown, she completely dropped of the face of the planet, at least in our lives. And they’re no longer friends on facebook.

    The lesson I’ve learned from this is that it really isn’t about how much you trust your spouse or how much they trust you. And it isn’t about maturity level of the two of you either. But if you invite a third party that has intimate knowledge about you into your current relationship, you’d better hope that they’re mature enough to respect the boundaries you set up. And the other side is, look at why you broke up. There’s a reason this person is your ex, and do you really need that in your life anymore?

    This got really long, can you tell I feel pretty strongly about the subject matter?

  6. Shannon

    I’m friends with my ex-husband and most of my other exes on facebook. I’m not a jealous person and we do keep up with one another. Doesn’t bother me at all but I know everyone is different. Same goes for Hardscape, he is friends with some of his exes. His most LTR married a friend of his and we went to the wedding together! She is sweet. Everyone is totally different on that thoug.h.

  7. Teacher Girl

    If enough time has passed and there is nothing between the two of you, then why not? Maybe I am missing something, but I don’t see the issue here. Just because I am “friends” with someone on FB doesn’t mean I am talking/communicating with them. Sometimes they are just “there” if you know what I mean.

  8. Krys

    I think that it’s fine to be friends with exes – whether that means “Facebook friends” or actual friends. Of course, that does depend on the situation. I’ve had a few serious relationships as an adult and I’m friends with two of them; we don’t talk all the time but we’ll chat every so often and my boyfriend has even met them. They’re my friends and there are absolutely NO feelings there, so I don’t even necessarily think of them as “exes” anymore.

    If there was a lot of bad blood or any feelings between us, it would be different. My boyfriend doesn’t have a lot of serious exes but he’s friends with girls he’s hooked up with and I have no issue with that, either. If I was concerned that he might still have feelings for someone and be unfaithful to me, I think the issue would go beyond Facebook and be something I’d need to discuss with him.

  9. justrealhappy

    Mmm. I think that it depends. CB is friends with most of his exes, and honestly, while it’s made me uncomfortable at times, I think it really does speak to his character. He is a loving, friendly, forgiving person. He may be FB friends with them, but I know he wouldn’t be hanging out with them behind my back or anything. He’s typically pretty forward about when he speaks with them and such. And while I don’t think he’d appreciate me going thru his email or whatever, I know he doesn’t have anything to hide because he lets me use his laptop and phone without reservation. I have access to most of his stuff. I may feel better about it because he is ten years older than I am, but honestly, I don’t lose sleep over his exes anymore. He’s just too mature and focused on me that I don’t need to worry.

    1. justrealhappy

      My comment is just a reflection of my relationship with CB…I hope I don’t sound as if I’m judging the maturity level of anyone else!

  10. Melissa

    I really think it is possible for being friends with an ex to be harmless. It just depends on the relationship, and if there are any romantic feelings left on either side. That said, if I was married and my husband had a real problem with the fact that I’m friends with an ex on Facebook, I can’t imagine I wouldn’t cut the ex loose out of respect for my husband.

  11. Andy

    My husband had a good girl friend he had feelings for for 5 years…she told him she didnt feel the same way and they stopped speaking. six months later he and I get in a relationship and she begins posting on his wall daily and tagging him in old phots (in addition to calling him and crying about her mean boyfriend). It nearly broke us up but heI finally realized shei was bad news. That beimg said I am facebook friends will all of my exboyfriends on facebook and in real life but my husband thinks one of them is like the best guy ever and hs a man crush on him bed invited him to our wedding. (Good man…bad boyfriend)

    I think its more about toxic people v. Boyfriend girlfriend label

    Ps congrats on the promotion!

  12. SWR

    This is not that “hot” of a topic for us. We got together fairly young (though post-college), and each had one serious relationship before ours. We each have met the other’s ex and have hung out socially with that person, because we each still maintain relationships with social circles that our respective exes are part of.

  13. Jessica @ Budget For Health

    Ephesians 5:33 says each one of you also must love his wife as he loves himself, and the wife must respect her husband. If there is love and respect in a marriage, it will be evidenced by the way the couple lives their lives. The decisions made to keep or de-friend people would simply be an outflow of those actions.

  14. RubySongbird

    This is a tough question. I’ve kept in touch with a few people that I dated, but none where it was particularly serious. So there’s really no danger of anything happening with that and they are people that I had been friends with before we tried dating. The other, more serious, exes I don’t keep in touch with at all. One got married and stopped calling (we used to keep up by phone every so often) and the other refuses to speak to me so… makes my choice easier! I try not to be jealous though, if people I am dating keep in touch with exes. That’s up to them, but most of the time the friendships don’t quite work out.

  15. Rachel

    Totally, 100% agree!! Love love your site btw :) great stuff

  16. Anne @ Unique Gifter

    2 of my exes came to our wedding. One is super good friends with both of us, has come to visit from across the country, etc. :-) The other is engaged to a high school friend. We’re invited to that wedding, too.

    My spouse, on the other hand, has fantastically bad break ups and they never want to see or speak to each other again (the two main people from university).

    So, me, I don’t care, as long as there’s not going to be some hoopla about it. There’s a chance that I’m still FB friends with one of my spouse’s exes… but I may have been unfriended, haha. That ex is married now as well.

  17. B. (Below Her Means)

    I have one of my three exes as a friend on Facebook. We still have a lot of respect and love for each other, just not the romantic kind. If M. knows, he hasn’t mentioned it. The ex and I don’t communicate often, if it all, on there. A few girls M. dated in college are his friends on Facebook too. It’s a matter of trust.

    1. newlywedsonabudget

      See I don’t think high school people really matter that much or even college exes. However, I don’t agree that it’s a matter of trust. I am sure a lot of the people who have been cheated on also trusted their spouses to the nth degree as well.
      I just don’t think you should put yourself in questionable situations.

  18. J.Mill

    I’m with you in that I am not comfortable leaving an open line of communication (via FB) for exes after marriage. I do think people can be distant friends (not close friends, more like acquaintances) with exes. I think that each couple may be different than the next, but within your marriage you need to decide boundaries and those boundaries need to be applied to both people.

    My husband and I have access to each other’s FB accounts. Not that we ever break into each other’s account, but we have the ability to, so that should appease any unease. I am not friends with my exes for my own sanity. I just have closed their chapters on my life.

    I’ve asked that my Mr. defriend any questionable friends from his past and he did. He’s friends with exes that I don’t see a threats and that I know personally. We disclose any private messages we get from the opposite sex that might have questionable content.

    1. newlywedsonabudget

      Couldn’t have said it ANY better! This is exactly how I feel!

  19. Kathleen @ Frugal Portland

    bah who cares about facebook. it’s not real.

  20. LatteLove

    My husband doesn’t even have a Facebook account and while I do completely trust him, I don’t know that I’d trust some of the girls he’s dated. I only have one ex, and I’m friends with him on Facebook, but have completely limited my profile and his news doesn’t show up on my feed. We used to communicate a little bit, and I became really good friends with his SIL (still am), so I don’t think it’s that big a deal (and neither does my husband)

  21. ImpulseSave

    I think it does depend. I think it’s a good sign of respect to take down stuff on Facebook from past relationships – especially really mushy stuff. You don’t have to wipe them out of your life, but out of respect for how your current partner feels, I think you should keep that Facebook PDA to a minimum. As for being friends with them, I don’t think it’s a huge issue. I mean, as long as they don’t interact too much on Facebook or whatever. I agree that it’s not so much a trust issue as a respect issue, but again, you don’t have to wipe them all away. I think it’s an important – though awkward – conversation to have.

  22. Megan

    This is a very hot topic between my fiance and I. I am still close friends with only one ex (we’re friends on Facebook, but he’s not very active on there). We were very close friends before we decided to take the relationship leap–it didn’t work out for us. There were a couple of years we didn’t connect, but now we chat every once in a while. He’s in California, I’m in Kentucky. We talk about his kids, work, life, etc. He helps give me an idea of what my fiance is feeling towards me because my ex knows me very well and makes me think about how my fiance might be feeling about something.
    However, my fiance is not happy about our friendship. It’s not something that I rub in his face, but I don’t have many close friends like I have with my ex, and he knows how I value my few friends. So, it’s a tight line. My fiance isn’t friends with any of his exes, so I don’t know how I would honestly feel until I’m in that situation. I’d like to say I’d hope to be as cool as I’d want him to be, but one never knows.

    1. newlywedsonabudget

      ooo that’s a toughie. I don’t think your fiance should ever come second to any of your friends, but I also don’t think your fiance should make you choose. However, I would be VERY uncomfortable if my husband started confiding in an ex about our relationship (which it kinda sounds like you’re doing? but i could be wrong). And I don’t think anyone should really know you better than your fiance, and you’re kinda saying that this ex of yours knows you extremely well. I feel like that’s the sort of thing you need to be having with your fiance–not your ex. So I can see why it’s making your fiance uncomfortable.
      I would try and talk about it more with your fiance and try to get a mutual understanding.

  23. Michelle

    Hmm I think it really depends. I’ve been with him for 6 years now, so I don’t think any past relationships were meaningful since I was so young. However, I am not friends with any exes, so I don’t know first hand.

  24. shaba

    I remain friends with my exes purely for stalking purposes.
    We do not chat.
    Plus, the only exes I really have are from high school and by now we’re COMPLETELY differently people then we were ten years ago.

    1. newlywedsonabudget

      I totally used to have an ex’s password and I stalked for a looong time after we broke up. If I ever ran into him again, I would be polite and cordial, but I really don’t care what he’s doing with his life. I am much happier now than I ever was in a relationship with him.

  25. Jill

    I’m fb friends with one of my exes, but we dated about 5 years ago. Not friends with the more recent exes. I think it’s harmless and we don’t message each other or anything, but just might “like” or comment on each other’s posts once in a rare while. I wouldn’t be very keen on my boyfriend actually using fb to communicate with an ex, but just being fb friends wouldn’t really worry me.

    1. newlywedsonabudget

      I agree Jill! I have amended my post to be more specific about which exes I am referring to. Long term high school girlfriend? Completely okay. Recent exes, girlfriend you lived with for two years, or random hookups? No.

  26. Meghan

    For me it’s a trust issue. As in, if my SO trusts me enough to not freak out over me having an ex on facebook, I should trust him. I have all of my exes on facebook. In fact, I’m still good friends with all of my exes and have no plans to stop talking to them, ever. Many of them I was friends with in high school (not too long ago for me) and I refuse to end a five year friendship just because we dated for a few months. When I enter a relationship I make this clear- if the guy doesn’t like it and tries to impose an ultimatum between my friends or my boyfriend, it’s my friends every time. I have a busy life and I have no room for jealousy- if he doesn’t trust me, he shouldn’t be with me. It’s the same thing with the guy. Talk to whoever you want, I will trust you, and if you break that, tough luck for you.

    Now as far as hanging out with exes, while I’m in a relationship my SO always knows when I’m seeing them, what we’re doing, who we’re with, etc. I never meet them alone, I bring a friend, and if my SO wants to come along, no problem, no questions asked. To me that is respect. Only one boyfriend has had a problem with it.

    Facebook and other social media is such a huge part of life these days that those statistics seem almost irrelevant to me. It’s the modern day equivalent of finding love letters in a sock drawer. No one blamed the post office in the 40s, did they? A cheater is going to cheat no matter what, facebook is not the issue. You don’t even have to be friends to send a message to someone! Wouldn’t that make it easier to hide the relationship? It’s just a means to an end.

    Ironically, I once found out an ex cheated… on his facebook. But I still feel the same way. He would’ve cheated anyway, regardless of whether he had her as a friend or not. I’m not censoring my friendships for a man and I wouldn’t expect him to do it either. To me complete, unconditional trust until they screw up is the ultimate sign of respect.

    1. newlywedsonabudget

      I think our ages here come into account. Because exes from high school are a completely different ballgame.
      I definitely don’t have a problem with my husband being friends on Facebook with his long-term high school girlfriend (I have amended the post to state this). However, to say now at such a young age that you wouldn’t stop talking to your exes EVER is simply stating that you would never put your future husband before high school friendships with exes. I don’t think you should ever have to choose, but I know that there are very few people whom I keep in contact with from high school. And exes are definitely not some of them.

      1. Meghan

        I do agree that age makes a difference here. I’m only three years out of high school though, so my exes from then are still relatively recent and fresh in my memory.

        I guess for me, I was friends with my exes before I dated them- so in my mind they have always been my friends first, and I couldn’t just drop my friends because someone didn’t like the idea. I might very well lose contact, in which case I might not care down the road, but that would be my decision and wouldn’t be subject to a boyfriend’s opinions unless he had a reasonable point beyond “but you had sex with him 3 years ago”.But I do agree that there should absolutely be boundaries. When I’m with someone I don’t even hang out alone with friends that it’s known I had a crush on before out of respect. I’m just pretty laid-back in relationships and I’d want whoever I marry to be the same way. There’s a reason I’m not with the exes. We just didn’t click properly.

        I do respect your point though, and your opinion might well make a lot of sense to me by the time I’m married.

  27. my honest answer

    This is one of those situations where one size doesn’t fit all. In fact, I’m kind of wary of people who either 1) are friends with EVERY ex they ever had or 2) are adamant that no-one can ever remain friends!

    Somewhere in between the two positions is usually the best ground, in my opinion.

  28. Hannah

    What a hot topic! I do not agree with your opinion at all (but I do respect it!). I think ex is a very vague term and it depends on a lot of things like the intensity of the relationship and social circles. So I’m definitely friends with ex’s and I’m happy to see them get engaged and married themselves. For me, even though a physical or romantic layer went away you can still be friends, but that’s just me :)

    1. newlywedsonabudget

      Ok good point! It’s not always black and white. I have amended my post to make sure I state that it’s recent exes and random hookups that I have an issue with, not exes from a long time ago that are obviously just friendship-based now.

  1. A blog about newlyweds managing finances in relationships. | Newlyweds on a Budget

    [...] irony never really left me. I know I have a pretty firm and traditional stance on being friends with exes, that most people my age wouldn’t agree with. And while we [...]

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