Welcome to our new advice column where we try to answer all of your burning, confounding questions. Never fear, a grown-ass woman is at the helm! We’ll also get advice from experts (since we may not always have the best answer.) Share your own advice in the comments below.
I had a couple glasses of wine and friended an ex or two on Facebook recently… eek. Now I’m thinking that was a mistake. I don’t know if I really want to connect with them or if the limited social contact in quarantine (and a nice merlot) is getting to me. Should I go back and unfriend/unfollow them?
—All My Exes Live on Facebook
Dear All My Exes,
One day, about 10 years after breaking up with the guy I thought I’d marry, I saw him at a funeral. We shared a nice hug, caught up on the few years it’d been since we last saw each other, and even sat together. After all, we were Facebook friends.
Fast-forward to the end of that year: I saw a photo of a beautiful newborn in my newsfeed. It was my ex’s son. Shot. Through. The. Heart. It stung that the person I thought I’d do that with had done it with someone else. It wasn’t that I was pining for him; I was pining for what I didn’t have. (Also, didn’t he tell me he was single at the funeral?)
Are you ready for that? And the wedding pictures, travel updates, expensive new cars and a brownstone in Brooklyn! Not everyone is. If that’s heartbreak waiting to happen for you, that friending spree may have been ill advised.
Now, full disclosure, I’m occasionally not entirely right about everything, so I consulted an actual professional. Bevin Campbell, Psy.D., a New York City-based psychologist had this to say:
“I don’t think staying connected to an ex on Facebook is either inherently damaging or inherently benign — it can have different meanings for different people at different times.
For some, remaining friends with an ex on Facebook could be a way of managing or even avoiding feelings of grief or loss about the end of the relationship. For others, it could be a way of indulging in ruminations that keep them anchored in the past.
Some people look at their ex’s profile as a way of managing disappointments, hurts and anger in their current relationship — fantasizing about what could have been. But I do think most people who engage in social media have connections with people where the relationship, at this point, is purely about keeping tabs on the other.
There are never simple answers in the world of relationships, thinking through how you are using Facebook, and the meaning of staying connected to your ex, will help clarify the right thing to do for you.”
Basically, you have to ask yourself which camp you’re in: Still holding on to that lovin’ feeling; looking for a distraction from a current entanglement; or taking a quick trip down memory lane. If your feelings won’t get hurt or your fantasy life won’t take over, then why not stay friendly with someone who was once important in your life? Once I got over a little fit of envy, I was fine keeping my ex in the FB friend zone.
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