Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Debate Tuesday - Connecting with an Ex on Facebook

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So Facebook clocked half a billion users this past month. I know almost everyone reading this, if not all, has an account on Facebook. Today's debate Tuesday is about connecting with exes on Facebook.

I joined Facebook several years ago as a Masters student but only recently started actively using it after publishing A Heart to Mend. Before then, I was hidden and I frequently culled my friend’s list for those who I felt were not necessary to be there. I wanted my friends list to remain less than 100, and it remained so. Now that I’m back to using the media, my friends list is over a thousand and growing. I’ve added some of those culled people again, among them so-called toasters, chykers and boyfriends. Having heard some tales from friends, and read some articles, I’m left wondering if I’m making a mistake.

Let me back up a bit. When one gets into a new relationship, the expectation is that both people cut any close ties with their exes. Though some of us choose to remain friends with them, it is physically easier to distance ourselves from exes. What happens is that you start hanging out in new spots with the new love, or you establish a new set of friends. The BB messages, phone calls and emails also reduce drastically with the old flame as time passes and both of you pick up new interests and drift apart.

On the web, it may be a different and difficult ball game altogether especially on Facebook. You have their status update automatically popping up on your newsfeed and the same thing happens when they add new photos. Some of us may even feel like the former girlfriend or boyfriend is taunting us. This is most likely the case when these updates have to do with the ex having found a new person. Imagine seeing that red heart which Facebook uses to denote changes to relationship status. I guess it would irk some people to see their ex hook up with someone else just days or weeks after their break-up while they’re nursing a bruised heart.

So what to do? Some people say they will never add their boyfriends as Facebook friends in the first place, and will remain as single until they’re married. I understand not broadcasting that you’re in a relationship which may end up as transient, but not adding the person as a friend doesn’t really sound realistic. Others say they will remove those friends once they become exes. Sounds more doable, at the same time, you may come across as churlish and bitter and who wants to be the one who is worse off by a break up?

Let’s even talk about people who are in exclusive and defined relationships or now married. A lot of us prefer to be ostriches about past sexual or relationship history. For those who do know, do you insist your partner removes all the exes from their friend list? Or do you encourage your partner to add their exes? I’m one who believes in not burning bridges and have found myself doing the latter. I add old flames and ask Atala to feel free to do the same.

Of course, one part of my mind expects that the reconnections will stay superficial. But what if it doesn’t? What if old embers burst back into flame during the course of a cursory Facebook chat? What if you open the door to the kind of ex that will leave hurtful messages that can be misconstrued by those reading. You know the kind of suggestive insinuations that can even set off the person you’re now with?

What do you think and what would you do?


****Excerpted from an article published in the September issue of AFRIKAN GODDESS Read the full version at the link.


  1. Ah! Thank God for privacy settings on facebook. I'd restrict chats and facebook status messages. But all together, I would prefer not to have a bad ending with an ex.

  2. Ah! good questions Myne. My boyfriend is on my friend's list but my status is 'single'. I would live it like that until i get married. There is nothing wrong with adding your ex if he is a decent person. We just have to trust our partners and ourselves to be faithful. Do we have any choice?
    This post got me thinking. I love it!

  3. well, i left facebook ages ago so i'm afraid am of no help right now...but when i was on fb, i had no qualms, NOT adding or deleting anyone i wanted, so my dear, there are no rules, do whatever the fuck you want, the profile is yours, innit?

  4. It depends on how the relationship ended for an ex to continue being a friend on facebook.

  5. My immediate Ex is not on my FB and that's simply because the break-up was bitter and of cos he's friends with my current. He did try to add my current and I told him not to accept the request. To me this is only wise.

    I have 2 of my Exs on FB and they've recently got married. I saw the pictures and oohed and aahed but that's where it ends. They were Exs for a reason and whatever we had finished when they became an Ex so they can stay on my FB as long as they want. My partner's Ex is on his FB list and to be honest it doesn't bother me.

    However I've had a case where an Ex left a suggestive message once on my picture saying 'I know when you have that look'. A look other people had incidentally commented about saying it was sexy. Anyone reading that would have guessed he meant when we were making love. I was so incensed that I removed my entire pictures from FB. I didn't remove him though cos we still had an okay relationship. I just never gave him an opportunity to make such stupid comments again.

    So I guess it's each to their own. Do not permit what you can't handle.

  6. As an old married woman, I think axing the exes is the best. It leaves no uncomfortable grey areas. I recently allowed an ex to be a FB friend but I was sadly disappinted, or maybe happily surprised. After more than 20 years he had not changed AT ALL. Imagine if I would have stayed with him- how boring!

  7. I go with Lily Johnson. For me there is no problem as long the Ex( es) on either side are still 'resonable and responsible ' human beings....Needless to say its wisdom to avoid some problematic people...and not even dare go near them with a 100" pole.

  8. Once we're no longer in a relationship, you're no longer my friend on facebook. It just makes things much easier for everyone.

  9. Well I've never been on FB so I can't really say much,but anyone that has self-discipline should be able to handle most of these things that has to do with relationships and the likes.
    Self-control is of paramount importance

  10. Hmm! This is very deep!

    I joined FB as a married woman so, my friends list consists of my siblings, colleagues and old school mates. However, if I have to add an ex now, that ex must exhibit a great sense of maturity. The moment I sniff or sense any negative act, I would NOT hesitate in deleting all about him from my FB account.

  11. I believe the privacy settings on facebook would solve most of those questions MW...if not,there's always the delete friend button :D

  12. Interesting question. It depends on your character and how much of an effect the ex-relationship has in your life. FB friendships are cool depending on amount of contact you have with people. Its a test to a relationship having ex'boyfrieds/ex-girlfriends on there. I prefer to keep information on there very vivid. The less you put up, the less input you you are asking for from people.

  13. I agree with Lil Miss Thang. It depends on whether there are resolved feelings between the both of you. If one person is over it and the other isnt over it I think communication via facebook and social media is not a wise decision. Where both parties are over it in every single construction of that idea, then its fine.
    As to whether your facebook status and profile should reflect your relationship status, it is definitely a case of moderation. Some put too much and some put none at all, i'd put a little but then again it is a personal thing.

  14. @Myne

    how are you doing? Well, for me I can't allow my ex-boyfriend on my facebook page, this guys cause drama in the long run but you can restict them easily to everything using facebook privacy setting, but it all depends on the relationship. I hope your labor day was great. Great to hear from you. Stay blessed.

  15. From personal experience,connecting with an EX is bad business.My hubby has crazy and desperate Ex's abeg...i don't know how we managed a long courtship period cos he had so many ex's and short-short relationships in the past

    I think people break up because they weren't been treated right(i have never had an ex so forgive my generalisation) so if u weren't treating me right,i am sorry but we can no longer be friends!!

    About 4years ago or so,my hubby's(then bf) ex called him to her house to come and pick her aso ebi and when he got there,she was naked and she jumped on him,she said they had to "do it" one last time,this was a week to her wedding and my hubby escaped cos he just felt his own marriage will be cursed if he does stuff like that...who knows if he'd have decided differently if she wasn't getting married.there's also the ex that suddenly returned from limbo and was sending me txts about leaving "her man" alone,he had even dated like 2people after she dumped him so i didn't understand the drama,it started after they jammed on the streets of london and guess what?this babe came back to nigeria to stalk us,till tomorrow i still don't know where she got my details from

    Lastly,i won't even encourage my hubby cos he has a terrible case of opening up easily.we once had an argument and i saw txts he exchanged on his phone with a female friend on what i did and bla bla bla,i can't imagine how i would have felt if it was an ex he did that with even if the ex was married,i just felt consoled cos it was his best friend's wife but even then.........i had to speak to him and i cant tell you now i trust he doesn't report me to someone and then delete the evidence,i just hope and pray for the best.

    PS:hope this comment makes up for all the other posts i read and don't comment:):)

    Thanks a lot myne for always stopping by and commenting/encouraging me(i liked d don't cut ur nose to spite ur face comment),i really appreciate.happy labor weekend abi wetin una dey call am?

  16. Thanks for the comments, this is debate Tuesday so feel free to air your points and experiences.

    @YNC, thanks dearie, I'm fine. I took your advice and saw the movie on Buni Buni. It was good too.

    @Qmoney, babe glad to read your comment. This makes up plus jara sef. I hope you're fine? Take care OK?

  17. Generally i dont do friendship with exes, its just tidier that way. if bubbly were on fb i would add him but thankfully he isnt interested.

    i believe the only kind of friendship that can work with exes (which has to be extremely minimal) is when both of u have moved on in every definition of the word, even if u dont currently have a partner.

    this topic has opened something else up for me jare......

  18. this is an interesting topic Myne. I am married but I don't show my status on facebook. I don't mind what my wife does as long as she remains faithful. My ex left me to marry someone when things weren't going on well and I added her later when I joined facebook, even though she was married. I didn't care cos we never really chatted. In effect it depends on the individual's ability and capability. If you can't stand the fire...

  19. Oooooooh....I like this one! I think that keeping exes as Facebook friends might not be such a bad idea if the ex isn't spiteful and you're not hurt in anyway about the past relationship. But if there is even a little bit of pain, delete the person, because every little thing they do will aggravate you, is what I think. At the same time, if you feel like you're the one who's better off relationship-wise or in life in general, one might be tempted to add them or keep them so you can rub in your good fortunes, in which case the other person would probably delete you. And who could blame them? Lol.

  20. @Omotee, it sure is easier when the other partner is not on FB.

    @Nana, I didn't even know you were married. I agree that it's best no tto get into chats or reminiscing about old times with exes. That is the beginning of trouble.

  21. @Naija American girl, that got me laughing. Yeah we never really get over these things do we?

  22. Separate private accounts from general accounts (such as author fan pages) :)

  23. I don't think it's such a big deal if you and the ex broke up years ago and have moved on with your lives. It's about maturity and feelings.

    If you have nothing to hide and nothing to lose then why not. Chances are he/she would have moved on and all that is left is a comfortable friendship. At least that's how it has worked with me.

    I am friends with an ex (who BTW invited me to his wedding and he came to mine) and guys that 'toasted' me in school. Those days are over and we've all grown up so for me it's okay.

  24. loving the post and all the comments lol...
    Personally i don't think is a big deal adding the ex list, it's simply childish not to, especially when they send the friendship request. There's no way i want to be the bitter person.

  25. lol very interesting debate and follow up comments.

    Facebook, facebook,...I can go on and on abt the negatives, d drama. *sigh* lol

    But ya like folks said, u can utilize d privacy settings but truth is, u stl get 2 see their updates so not really much of a difference

  26. But then again deleting 'em or not accepting their request can mean ur not over 'em and are still bitter.

    As long as he's not some psycho ex boyfriend, then we can be facebk friends...*cringes*
    I dunno man! Sometimes i jst get weird-ed out by d whole thing and I begin 2 feel 2 exposed & then I jst block my whole page. LOL

  27. For me i guess it depends on the ex in question, his/her maturity level and the circumstances surrounding the break up. Presently i have one ex on my list and another sent and invite recently, but i just knew it was a no-no.

  28. I am currently pretty good friends with all my exes, weird I know. They're all in serious relationships now, but I no longer get that annoyance I used to get when we initially broke up.

    Thank God for options on facebook - I've deactivated that relationship status thing. It's also a good thing that fb gives you the option to select which 'reports' you want to get on your news feed. So, if you can't handle the life changes that your 'ex' is flaunting in your face, just remove the person from your news feed.

  29. This had me thinking. This is what works for me, i kip the ex on my friendlist if twaz a friendly break up but in a case where he was a mistake i regret, i'll rather not have him around as a reminder. My take.

  30. Some exes are friends while I don't bother to add the rest. I don't even check up on them. Ex=history to me.

    I wouldn't ask that my partner removes his exes from his friend's list too. Remaining 'single' on FB is the best thing until you are married.

  31. I don't have a passion for facebook and I guess thats why I'm not frequent on it...also because of the nasty stories I've heard that have come from people being affected negatively on FB.

    But when it comes to business, facebook is quiet a useful site for gathering customers or creating a fanbase. It does have its good uses but there's also a bad side to it.

    I stopped getting into relationships via the internet some years back after a nasty experience and ever since I make sure never to add ex- es to my list. It could be bad for me

  32. Well, as far as facebook is concerned I have seen some nasty s**t, but where it concerns meeting up an ex I'd say it can be a big bother. I have always prided myself for being the good boy, I can't even think of an ex girlfriend I can't call up now and say hi without any ill feeling (let’s just say I somehow manage to remain good friends with my ex-girlfriends), but there is always the odd babe that you regretted losing and struggled to hold on to. I reconnected with one a few months back on facebook and did the old feelings resurface? they sure did and I was reminded in more than one way why I wanted to hold on to her years ago. You know how it’s like, all those stories of 'how I wish' played out and there were times I wanted to give up all and hook up again. I remain through to my present girl sha, but it wasn't easy.
    Now, to not get caught up with her again, I make sure I logout immediately I notice her online, and try very hard not to visit her profile page or read her updates. Lucky for me she is not always online like me, so it not too hard. It's like three months now since I called her last. But I must confess I still think about her, I still wonder what would have happened if I was not strong enough to resist the temptation, especially since I am engaged to someone else.

  33. I have exes and enough toasters on fb and some are HAPPILY married(not that I was flirting or moving from one to another o).One is getting married in about two months...and we still see on fb. I dunno how God has helped me deal with not being jealous or "mushy mushy",bitter and uptight.With some,we are good friends and others,i try the much I can not to keep contacts so as not to stir old feelings and presently,am happy without them since i have my man now ;).
    On the other hand,i block off the troublesome ones who try to rekindle old feelings....

  34. Interesting topic...makes me think too

  35. Thanks everyone, this has been interesting reading the different takes on the issue. For all the first time commenters, welcome and hope to see you again.

  36. I've said something about this on facebook. It's about boundaries and trust, I think. Some connections go way back and it would be a shame to cut ties completely cos you are in a new relationship. Life is unpredictable, some relationships don't last forever. A good friendship/connection is what it is and it can last a lifetime, no matter what else is going on in one's life.

  37. i cant speak from experience but sometimes I've seen comments on friend's pictures by their exes where they allude to some previous sexual history btw them. It makes me not only wonder at the maturity of the said man but I also wonder why anyone would allow that kind of thing.
    Recently, an ex commented on a friend's rxn status that had just changed to engaged. He was like "wow lucky guy, I always reminisce about our time together, i miss holding & kissing u but I'm sure u will be happy with him. He had better treat u right. Congrats!"..... Huh, that comment is so contradictory that it makes me wanna bang my head on the wall.
    She deleted the comment but I told her to write the guy and give him a lecture on gentlemanly manners & that he never try that again or else.
    So yeah some exes r immature, some r just plain mean, some r not but really do still have feelings for u and will try to rekindle it especially when they r weak & in need of some bolstering. God forbid u r also in the same state.
    But when a rxn has moved to a comfortable zone, where the memory of ur romance is in a far far away recess of ur brain, then most def add them. If my bf or husband wanted to add an ex, I would ask him to use his judgment. If u are mature urself, its not hard to know who to add and who to not. Besides if u fear that an ex can turn to you for emotional comfort at some point in the future, think abt the fact that a new rxn can also reach that level.

  38. It does make it hard to move on especially when you still feel things can still work out and then you turn out to be a pest on that persons wall. Me I delete my ex from my friends list until I'm certain that I can see her updates and not want to write any mushy stuff.

  39. Unofitkillme, that makes a lot of sense. I would certainly delete the guy who made that comment if it were me.

    Psywana, awww...I see your heart must be very romantic...lol..

  40. i am just reading this now. interesting debate.

    personally i think u deal with each ex differently. i have some (not all) old flames on fb but they are all on my limited profile so they dont get see much about me- updates, photos etc.

    one advice- don't add exes who stalks you or want u dead (lol) or that u still have feelings for

  41. lol...one of my ex is my friend on fb in as much as he was the first love of my life and practically stopmed on my heart until he killed it....lol. but i have forgiven him and we are friends on fb. not that i will be chatting with him any time soon. And yes i used to look at his pic and wonder what he sees in his current gf whom i am way more prettier than....yeah i knw am crazy. But i dont do that any more.

    But my recent ex is the one that i cant even bear to think of not to talk of adding him on my facebook. I even removed him as my friend b4 we broke up bcos he hacked into my fb account and read all my messages and became paraniod.

  42. Kiky, that is stalker behavior, borderline cuckoo..hmmm, I wouldn't add such a person too.

    Thanks for your comment.

  43. ...well i personally don't want a situation where i will see my exes and wont be able to say hi......i simply prefer to keep them as friends...the world is so small and who knows who might be able to help you when you are actually down and out.

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