All My Exes Live on Facebook

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Dear Sara,

My boyfriend is friends with his exes on Facebook and I just don’t think this is appropriate. I mean, sometimes he’s quite familiar with them too. I hate being able to read it when he has special little inside-jokes with them. I don’t want to see that. It is wrong for me to ask him to de-friend them? 

In a word, absolutely. If it bothers you, you should delete your own Facebook account. You shouldn’t have access to the temptation to feel bad about something awesome; that your boyfriend is evolved enough to have rich, meaningful friendships in his life with both sexes. That your boyfriend is still friends with his exes is the best testament you can ask for regarding how cool (comfortable with himself) he must be. I would know because I am friends with 97% of my exes. That other 3% are those who just can’t stand being friends with me, and I actively judge them for it. Relationships aren’t ownership, and when you date somebody, you share something between two people that is unique because of who you were at the time, individually and with each other, and what you learned from each other. Just because you’re now dating, or engaged to, or even married to one-half of that now-extinguished pair, it belongs to him, not you, and trusting him to handle that aspect of himself responsibly is a million times more rewarding than asking him to cut it off and hand it to you as some sort of proof that he loves you more.

If you don’t figure this out now, you’ll eventually stifle him, so if you want to hang onto him, consider this: Jealousy is one of those things that for some reason we aren’t taught to grow out of by the time we’re twelve. But it should be. It’s the emotional appendix, totally superfluous. When you catch yourself feeling it, you should regard it in the same manner as if you just caught yourself tempted to shoplift. And also note: Facebook is the lowest common denominator when it comes to friendships; Facebook exists for the people we still care about, but who cannot be a part of our lives actively for one reason or another. I would hope that in addition to being Facebook friends with the ones who live close, your boyfriend still meets with them from time to time for coffee. You are the one he chooses to be with for the given time. That is awesome; that is more than enough.

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  1. HOW is it possible that no one has commented on this? What a fabulous response to one of the most frequent problems that surfaces in relationships today! Jealousy is such a wast of time, and ignoring past relationships (in my opinion) increases the chances of repeating mistakes. Being friends with an ex can really help people who honestly desire to work out the kinks in who we are, and who we are to others. My past relationships serve as an index of sorts to the stages of emotional evolution that I have experienced…each one was a new experiment in my attempt to become a person that would be a compliment to another (roommate, lover, friend, parent, or whatever). Helping me cultivate a more successful working knowledge of how to communicate effectively, how to compromise without losing the ability to find satisfaction in an outcome, learning what I can and can’t tolerate, and discovering my own character flaws, and gaining constructive feedback on how to make them less of a thorn to others, these are all things that I feel are results of maintaining friendships with exes. They can be extremely useful in helping us see ourselves through the eyes of whoever we are currently involved with, which makes the ex an ally to the new love.
    Great article!

  2. Sara, I can’t “like” this enough! I have tried to explain why I am friends with my exes on the fb to a my new (now ex) boyfriend. He just didn’t get that he wasn’t the only man I had ever cared about. Great job on this!

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