Debate Tuesday - Connecting with an Ex on Facebook

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?


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