"Friend" Requests from Old Flames on Social Media

Ironically, this problem is easier to resolve in the case of a troubled marriage. The more difficulty a couple is experiencing, the more obvious it should be that they cannot and mustnot tolerate outside temptations or intrusions. In situations of this nature, the answer is a definite no. Do you remember that brief but highly significant verse from Song of Solomon? "Catch us the foxes, the little foxes that spoil the vines, for our vines have tender grapes" (Song of Solomon 2:15). Like "little foxes" to tender vines, "friend" requests from old boyfriends or girlfriends can do great damage to a fragile or hurting marriage.

Things get more complicated when the marriage is strong, as in your case. Since you seem to have a good relationship with your spouse, we'd advise you to talk this over with him at length before you decide to do anything. Tell him about the "friend" request you've received. Ask him what he feels and thinks about the matter. It's important to be open and honest and lay everything out on the table. Keeping secrets only undermines trust. If your marriage is as strong and healthy as you say it is, then it's worth protecting. A recent survey of the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers revealed that Facebook has been a major factor in one out of five U. S. divorces. You need to be careful about exposing your relationship to threats of any kind, no matter how remote they may seem.

Since your former boyfriend has initiated this contact, it would probably be a good idea to ask yourself some questions about his motives. Naturally, you have no way of knowing exactly what he's thinking. You may, however, have some strong intuitions one way or the other about his reasons for getting in touch. We'd urge you to stop and weigh your feelings carefully before making a decision. If you suspect that his intentions are not entirely appropriate or honorable, ignore the request and move on.

If you're still confused, apply this basic litmus test: would it be helpful or harmful to your marriage to re-establish a connection with this person? If you're feeling inclined to grant the "friend" request, you may need to pause and evaluate your motives. Are you absolutely certain that you don't feel compelled to revisit the past because of present discontentment? Have you been thinking about the way things "might have been" if this particular relationship had turned out differently? We're not necessarily suggesting that this is the case. We're simply saying that it deserves some thought. In the final analysis, it's a decision that you must make-together with your spouse, of course.

If you choose to go ahead and accept your "old flame's" invitation to re-connect, we'd urge you to do so via a Facebook account that intentionally reflects the healthy nature of your marriage. Among other things, this page should be filled with images designed to remind visitors of your relationship with your spouse. As far as possible, photos should frequently show the two of you together. The whole point is to represent yourselves as a unit. This will discourage your old boyfriend from making any unwarranted assumptions.

On the positive side, it's worth noting that husbands and wives who connect with old friends via Facebook may be rewarded with unprecedented opportunities to enter into the details of one another's personal histories. This can be an enriching experience. But it can also get tricky if it turns into a source of tension, suspicion, or jealousy. Such developments may have a healthy and beneficial effect if they help you get rid of secrets and shed some light on the past. Everything depends on the couple in question and how they choose to handle such revelations. Our recommendation is that you maintain an "open door" policy. Then be prepared to do the necessary hard work if issues from the past arise that seem to require attention.

If you're like most couples, you could probably use some help sorting this out. Our staff would be happy to discuss your questions with you over the phone if you'd care to give them a call. You can contact our Counseling department for a free consultation.

Resources
Making Marriage Work in a Social Media World

Friendship or Flirtation? Danger Signs for Couples

Boundaries in Marriage

Unfriend Yourself

Referrals
Covenant Eyes

Net Nanny

Articles
Marriage And Social Media: Risks, Benefits, and Best Practices

Is Facebook Making Us Lonely?

Does Facebook Cause Divorce?

Stalking Your "Ex" on Facebook

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