Friending an Ex? Think Twice, Says a Bend Relationship Counselor

Are we too late in saying that everyone is on Facebook now? We mean everyone. Your kids, your neighbors, your co-workers, and your high school teachers can all “friend” you. Most of these connections are fun and nostalgic… until someone from your romantic past comes along.

Say your ex adds you on Facebook. Or your partner’s ex adds them on Facebook. What happens then? What if they use Facebook to reach out and chat with you or your partner… or even flirt a little?

If you’re thinking that maybe you’d be better off denying that friend request and asking your partner not to friend their exes, either, you’ve got research to back up your feelings.

Kansas State University recently conducted research on 7,000 couples on Facebook and other forms of social media. Researchers concluded that couples who are accepting of talking to people who they find physically attractive (much less someone who they have had a past relationship with) are actually harming their relationship by engaging in boundary crossing – and sometimes, eventually, boundary violation.

Those two terms are defined in the research. Boundary crossing isn’t as serious. Examples are adding an ex on Facebook or making smaller moves that could make a partner uncomfortable. Boundary violations, on the other hand, are really big no-nos. Things like infidelity and other less acceptable actions taken outside of the relationship.

Stop Boundary Violations by Being Honest about Boundary Crossing

From the research, you might think that you should just get over yourself where boundary crossing is concerned. Sure, it’s something that makes you feel uncomfortable, but in the end nothing really bad is happening.

Unfortunately, what often happens is that when someone crosses a boundary, it becomes far easier to violate a boundary. Because the lines get blurred. It’s harder to know what’s acceptable and what isn’t.

Which brings us back to friending an ex on Facebook. According to the Kansas State research, being in communication with a previous partner has the ability to become a slippery slope. The more you talk to the ex, the more fuel you give the old flame. It even has the potential of briefly sparking back up again.

So here’s what you need to do: be honest about how you feel when your partner crosses a boundary. Far too often, people aren’t.

Even if we are upset at a partner for crossing a boundary, here’s how most people respond most of the time:

“It’s no big deal.”

“Get over it.”

“It could be way worse.”

Sounds familiar, right?

Sure, crossing a boundary isn’t as bad as many other actions, but those responses fail to acknowledge and validate your feelings toward the situation. If you are upset at your spouse, those feelings should be considered, even if you appear to cool off a few days later.

Be honest with your ex about their friendships on social media, and listen to their concerns about your friend list as well. If you need more information about how to talk through this conflict and come up with solutions, contact a Bend relationship counselor.