Can We Still Be (Facebook) Friends?

This weekend I was browsing Twitter on a Saturday night.  Please, don’t lecture me on how shameful that probably is, believe me when I say “I get it”.  Someone I follow (Cali Bradshaw!) tweeted the simple question “What do I do when my ex won’t stop commenting on my foursquare check-ins!?”  Without missing a beat I said “Unfriend!” “Touche”, she replied “But it’s hard because I want to remain friends.  Maybe unrealistic?”


“No. Friendship is realistic, but digital friendship is NOT.”


I stand by what I said.  Being Facebook Friends with an ex, or really, being digitally connected to your ex at all is inherently harder than being real-life-friends with him or her.  In a way, Facebook, Twitter, Foursquare, etc. takes the reality of your new singleness, whether you’re the dumper or the dumpee, and forces you to deal with it one “like”, 140 characters, or one check-in at a time. Real-life-friendship allows for an invisible line to remain between you and your ex; information can be controlled.  The amount of time you’re forced to interact is limited.  And if you were the dumpee, well, you’re free to heal in peace.  Pleasantries can be exchanged, but dirty details?  Those can be left to the imagination.


Friday nights that were once spent wondering what an ex was doing are actually a lot harder have hard evidence of who he or she is with and what, exactly, they’re doing.  A check-in one foursquare can confirm their exactly location.  And if that isn’t enough, check Facebook the next day for photographic evidence of the good time that ensued.

What you’d never dare ask in real life “Who were you with?” “What were you doing?” “Are you seeing someone?” is answered right before your very eyes–without even having to ask.  How simply droll.  Digital friendships make relationships harder to forget, harder to overcome, harder to let go.

It’s not all about having to endure someone’s updates in your timeline.  It’s also about having someone read your updates, your whereabouts, your new life.  There is something healthy about not having an ex read your disconnected thoughts in 140 characters.  Something healthy about not knowing your whereabouts on Foursquare, your new friendship connections on Facebook.  I think, in some way, social networking sites have taken what are tiny details of our minds and lives, and put them center-stage.  What may have been an afterthought years ago are now on display for our connections to read…and having an ex-boyfriend or girlfriend privy to these mundane but prominent thoughts?  It’s just not serving anyone.

If I saw The Boyfriend tomorrow on the street, I would absolutely talk to him.  And I have no doubt he’d talk to me.  We’d play casual catch up.  But there is no way in hell you could convince either of us to friend the other on Facebook.  In fact, we accidentally ended up as Twitter friends once, and it was about 8 hours of disaster.  We simultaneously unadded one another an sent an email that explained our rationale.  Strangely enough, it was fairly similar.  It was too intimate for him to allow me to read his thoughts; I felt too uncomfortable reading his thoughts as well.  Despite my insistence that I am a product of technology…that I prefer texting, Facebooking and the ilk, I will say that when it comes to exes and relationships..I am most definitely a fan of face-to-face interactions only.

Do your digital relationships seem easier?  Do you have your exes on any sort of filter on your various social network sites?


8 thoughts on “Can We Still Be (Facebook) Friends?

  1. I unfriended one of my exes, but I’m still Facebook friends with two of them. I follow one of them on Twitter, too. Neither of them are very active on Facebook, but every once in a while I’ll browse through my first ex’s, his wife’s, or his sister-in-law’s profiles to see how they’re doing. It’s probably not a good idea—when I do it, I know I should probably unfriend his wife, if not all of them—but I don’t.

    When my last ex and I broke up, it was really difficult to see him posting on Twitter and FB, especially given the circumstances of the break-up. I probably should have hidden him on FB (maybe I did and just forgot!) or unfollowed him on Twitter; maybe I could have avoided my Spring 2010 Catastrophe then…

    (Also, Chrome doesn’t recognize the words “unfriend” OR “unfollow.” Interesting.)

    1. It’s difficult. I think every situation is different, but I can’t think of a scenario where I break up with someone and still want to see their face in my timeline. If they’re infrequent posters, maybe. But I am such the glutton for punishment that I am more likely to actually seek their page out. Kudos to you for self control!

      Maybe Chrome is just really, really positive and would rather you say “Not right now” instead of rejecting your “friends” 😉

      xoxo The Blonde.

  2. I really only have one ex, and we’re still friends on Facebook. To be honest, we’re in the midst of an ongoing “Poke War” that began before we were dating! But we don’t really check up on each other. There’s the (very rare) wall post of “How are you doing?” but other than that, there’s no real communication.

    1. A poke war with an ex?! That’s stunning to me. I find “poking” to be pretty flirtatious. Do you have several poke wars going on?

      xoxo The Blonde 🙂

      1. Not too many, but there are a couple. With my ex and me, though, it’s definitely not flirtatious. It may have started out that way, but now it’s more of a pride issue – who will back down and refuse to poke back? Certainly not me.

  3. It is such a dangerous situation. I was friends with an ex and his family, he then went on to knock up some poor 18year old and once all the baby photos and business came up I just couldn’t take anymore, I cannot imagine a worse parent and don’t want to see the process, I unfriended and hope that the girl makes up for his inadequacy.
    Another ex who did unfriend me doesn’t have full privacy which is just as bad, every so often I check out what he’s up to, I’m just glad he doesn’t use Facebook as much as I do. I know it’s not good for me and generally makes me feel worse, but hey I am a very curious person and like to know how people are doing.

    1. I unblocked my ex a couple of times, just to have a look. And though it’s nothing that should upset me, just looking upset me. So I try to avoid it now. No matter how much it was necessary to let go and how much better off I am, it is hard to see that his life functions (quite well actually) without me. I, too, am a very curious person.

      It’s hard enough seeing him in person the few times we run into one another around town (and out of town actually!), so I think an online presence would just be over-the-top for me. I can’t imagine ever doing it.
      (being his friend)
      The Blonde

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