Facebook and Old Flames: A Dangerous Mix

I found this article by chance. Read on and give me your thoughts:

I wonder how many old flames have been reignited because of Facebook. I wonder how many affairs are going on right now that began with a friend request. Quite a few, I would bet.

I signed up for Facebook less than six months ago. I love it. I live thousands of miles away from where I grew up and went to college, and I’ve gotten back in touch with many old friends. It’s a fantastic tool.

I’ve also become “friends” with more than one ex-boyfriend. With most of them, we say hi, give a quick status update, check out each other’s photos, and that’s that.

But a few have made definite romantic overtures. They’ve sent questionable emails, and flirted, and told me I look great. The problem is that at least two of these guys are married.

I think this is pretty common. I would guess that it’s happened to most people on Facebook – at least, most of those of us who are old enough to have lost track of old lovers.

Would it happen without Facebook? Probably not. Until I signed up for Facebook, this didn’t happen to me. And for all we like to wail about the loss of privacy on the internet, most of us aren’t actually googleable.

I’ve googled lots of old friends and acquaintances and had zero relevant hits turn up. And even when google does turn up with something and you find an old flame, you have no valid reason for contacting an ex-lover out of the blue. To send an out-of-the-blue email to a long-lost lover, you must be either very curious or very brave.

But this all changes with Facebook. Suddenly, we can find old flames in an instant, and there’s a perfectly good reason to contact them – we’re friending all our high school buddies, why not them too? Friending is so casual. It doesn’t violate any etiquette. It’s all too easy.

I haven’t been tempted to engage in online flirtation with these guys, but that’s because I’m not what I call an IVP: an Intrigue-Vulnerable Person. But IVPs are common. My workplace is crawling with them. And a few years ago, I was one.

Here’s what makes for an IVP:
• Boredom with your relationship and/or homelife
• Stress related to your relationship and/or homelife
• Loneliness and/or a feeling of being undesirable or taken for granted by your mate
• Unrequited love for someone from your youth (this one is the most dangerous)

If you’re an IVP, and you get a flirtatious email from an old flame, a little spark goes off in your chest. A tingle. It puts a smile on your face. So you start corresponding, perhaps innocently at first, and now you have a fun little secret. You start reliving old memories.

Online, you’re both at your charming best. You carefully compose your emails and you choose your words to be witty, self-deprecating, and fascinating. You anxiously await a reply in your inbox. Your instant messages are effervescent.

Not only do you put your best self forward online, but your old flame sees you that way too. They remember you when you were young. They still think of you as young. They don’t see you as middle-aged, they see you as a vibrant 19 year old in a grown-up body. It makes you feel young. It makes you feel sparkling and interesting and desirable. It’s intoxicating.

Some of these emotional affairs will never leave the bounds of the internet. But some will turn physical, and some will break up marriages. I posit that this phenomenon will grow by leaps and bounds because of Facebook.

I am not blaming Facebook nor excusing adulterers. We are all responsible for our own behavior. But in my assessment, most people are vulnerable to affairs at one point or another. The reason they don’t happen more often is not because most people have wonderful self-control, but because opportunities are either non-existent or come at too high a cost.

But Facebook significantly decreases those costs. It allows people to fool themselves. It starts so innocently. It provides both the means and the motive for contacting an old flame. Hell, you can chat with your ex-lover on your laptop while your spouse is in the same room!

But an “innocent” exchange can turn into attraction and emotional attachment very, very easily. The allure of the old flame – of the person who knew you when you were young – should not be underestimated. It can be very powerful.

So, while I believe in personal responsibility, I also have sympathy for those who struggle to resist something so powerful. Technology dangles an exponentially-increasing number of temptations in front of our noses: 5,000 years ago, we didn’t have to struggle to avoid that last piece of pizza, or that unnecessary credit card purchase, or surfing on our boss’s dime, or having an online affair – those things simply didn’t exist.
Today, we must all exercise constant vigilance against incessant social and technological influences that do not have our best interests in mind.

So, I’m not quick to judge. But I do worry.

Am I making something out of nothing here? Should we all just trust ourselves and our partners to use proper self-restraint and go on our merry ways?

I’m admittedly a cynic, but I work around middle-aged family guys, and judging from the boredom and dissatisfaction most them express with their lives, I doubt they could be trusted to maintain appropriate boundaries if they were contacted by a flirtatious ex. (Note: the same could be said about women, I just happen to work with mostly guys).

What do you think?


Unknown said…
Bj....temptations...tepuk dada tanya selera...to me, ade hari yg kita akan ditanya pelbagai perkara...I selalu remind myself...
I guess, secara kebetulan, fb membenarkan keterbukaan...to me, add many friends as one wishes...layan lebih2?..eeeiii..takutzzzz!!
Pandai orng tu karang ceritakan..seperti menterjemahkan ramai...Nice day Bj!
p/s: Nak copy and paste to my hubby;s email lah!..ha ha!
Anonymous said…
Up to the personlah..dulu2 pun with chatting2 ni pun ada org beraffair. I like FB coz it connects me to my far away relatives and friends and I would not want to be connected with x bf or make new male friends. Even my 60 yr old brother pun dah pandai ber FB, so I kenala jaga2 sikit my words..he..he

BJ good article!

I think each one of us know what is and what is not appropriate behavior although SOME of us practice severe double standards on what her husband can and cannot do..heheheheh

Memang lah thrill to connect wth old flames but one look at their photo gallery and you'll most likely find that the old flame has baggage...and a paunch!
sabre23t said…
Yes, easy temptations if
... the ex is online and fb connected
... there is actually an earlier ex

Did I mention, I first get to know my other half when I was in Std One?

Now, sharing this online interest (FB, FV, etc) with new friends, when your partner don't have much interest in it, may be dangerous too. ;-)
the principal said…
love this post...

tq...it serves as a reminder to me yg sememangnya iman senipis kulit bawang
Mama Huptihup said…

hehe ini hot topic!! i have one ex on my list and i guess we have passed the stage utk pikir benda2 lepas tu..we are friends now...i dont know how to explain but i feel like we are brother and sister now sbb i kenal dia dr umur i 19 and i am so close to his mom and sister so tah lah..we respect each other's status now and never talk about the pass :D..mak dia punya happy to know that we dah berdamai haha and stressed on that i ni ank angkat dia and dia happy i dgn ank dia are now friends instead of enemy...sian mak dia haha

pssttt...in norway ramai yg kawin sbb kenal kat fb...they search for the same name with them and get to know each other and then got married :D
Anonymous said…

What a coincidence! your entry is what i had in mind when my hubby told me that a friend is getting married to wife no 2...all thanks to facebook! apparently their long gone love was rekindled...
Geram rasanya..

tireless mom said…
Hi MrsN

If looking for trouble, why not? It is okay to rekindle with the old flame and remain as friends and as long as we know the limits. After the years, I am sure the friendship has gone to a certain level, which should be based on appreciation and sincerity. Guess lain orang lain rasa.
UrbAnWiTch said…
two ex-bfs wanted to add me.
terus IGNORE!!

too complicated! hahaha
ummi365 said…
oh no... this is dangerous..sebab tu i tak add male friends..
wanshana said…

Scary, kan? But, I guess there a lot of cases yang jadi macam ni.

For me, if ada male friends who want to add me, I would ask Haizal first if it's okay to do so. Just so that he knows who they are. No old flames for me, as tak pernah berchenta dengan orang lain... Hehehe!

Unfortunately, it doesn't work the other way. I tengok ramai his female friends in his list yang I tak kenal pun (and some tu he himself tak pernah kenal before this!!! So how?!)

MrsNordin said…

It's true, it very much depends on one's intention. Kalau keinginan tu ada, kat mana2 pun boleh ada affair.

FB is so transparent lah! That's why I malas nak update status.
MrsNordin said…

My old flame still look the same like before, no paunch.

But that day, he sent me an SMS. Alamak... bahasa macam budak darjah 6 lah! He called me "Awak!". Spelling pun salah! What a turn off! Terus i delete him from my memory brain.

He shouldn't have written anything. And I'm so glad I married Nordin!
MrsNordin said…

Yes, the fact that FB is "open" for public viewing may push people to think that it's safe. Chatting with an ex in your bed with your spouse around may not seem wrong afterall because it's harmless, so they say. But still, why play with fire, right?

We may be able to resist the temptation, but will our man feel the same way? I wonder...
MrsNordin said…

I'm so glad my exs are not on FB! If they are, I don't think I'd add them. Bahaya! I don't know how you do it, but if worked well for both of you, go ahead.

I'm not surprised if ramai orang meet their soul mates on FB. Well, I met mine on the internet(without face lah masa tu..), so it can be done.
MrsNordin said…

Aiyo... ini kes berat ni! I feel sorry for your friend!


Iya.. you kena ingat lebih sikit sebab iman you is very the nipis!! (hee.. hee... that's your trademark lah, girl... "Imanku senipis kulit bawang...")
MrsNordin said…

It's ok to be friends as long as you don't talk about personal feelings. Once emotions are involved, that spells trouble!
MrsNordin said…

That's the way, ahak.. ahak... I like it... ahak..ahak...!

I think they are just curious about you!
MrsNordin said…

I know what you mean. Women being women, kita ni beriyalah inform our husbands about everything and everyone that we meet in our life. But they all, tak pernah pulak nak mintak permission kita kan? So i think, you should do the same!

My kids have been asking their father to open an FB account. I told them, "I'm sure berderetlah your baba's ex-GF will want to be his friend!"

If he had one, I want to know his password!!
IBU said…
generally people may think that the other half yg socially active zmn muda2 yg ada tendency to flirt with old flames or ex bfs or ex gfs.

but adoiii... i must always be reminded of "still watre runs deep". air tenang jgn disangka takde buaya. diam ubi berisi.

so.... since my hubby falls into the category of sgtlah pendiamnya ya amat, my next mission would be: hack hubby's FB account / carik password. Hahahaha.....

shhh...don't tell him.
Yup..a dangerous concoction, indeed. Especially if there was no closure in the previous relationships. Macam tak puas hati. Hence when there is an opportunity to have that closure, we are most likely to jump on it. However, one false step - terjebak.

Stay away from exes! Unless your marriage is really strong like concrete then add lah however many exes you like to your Friends' list. Boleh gak eksyen sikit to them and show them what they have missed out on! Lol!
MrsNordin said…

Hee.. hee... nak curi password ya?? I'd do the same!! I'll ask him outright!
MrsNordin said…

You seem to have a different opinion about it now. Good!

Yes, exes should just stay exes. Cannot be platonic friends tho' sometimes you wish things would have been different. That you were just friends all along.
nurul said…
Salam... just wanted to say that this article has expressed my feelings exactly... I especially cannot tahan when hubby's female FB friends put up old pictures during uni showing how much fun they had together back then.. sitting so close together-gether, etc, etc... pastu comment2 about those were the days la or something along those lines... perhh.. mcm takde keje lain la.. u have a life, a husband and kids of your own now... come back to reality and attend to what matters most in life.. i personally tak paham mcmana some ppl spend so much time on fb.. sian la sket kat anak2 yg nakkan a bit of your precious time tu.. as a result of what i have observed i have now distanced myself from fb.. check friends' updates skali skala to find out whether they are ok and not ill or anything like that... thanks for posting this article.. wassalam, nurul
nurul said…
oh yah.. just wanted to add yg some (or is it most...?) married guys just cannot keep their kegatalan at bay la... a guy who had hit on me in uni whom i innocently added as a friend suka nak berchatting if he sees me online... sembang2 kosong...that was before i switched to offline mode. he's married with 4 kids. another guy whose affections i'd declined in uni also added me as a friend siap dgn personal msg tanya khabar, a request i ignored being a bit wiser now... :) he's also married with kids..
sabre23t said…
Chatting with an ex in your bed with your spouse around may not seem wrong afterall because it's harmless, so they say. But still, why play with fire, right?

Chatting is not just FB. You now also have Twitter, Myspace, Gchat and many others social network. I don't have any ex really, but new flames are also dangerous.

The border I set myself is, as long as I've no fear of she reading what I write, I'm still in blue zone. ;-)
busymum100 said…

This is my 2nd stop at your blog about FB ni.

To me, it's up to you, tepuk dada tanya selera. Cuma mmg lah FB memudahkan apa yg mmg menunggu masa utk berlaku.

At this age, I pun dah lali dah dgn dugaan2 ni... Yg pompuan at my age selalunya (bukan takde) tak sgt tergugat. Yg mudah tergugat ialah the guys.. Remember we get to withdraw our EPF (akaun 2) at 50. Tetiba je the guys rasa kaki mereka panjang... Kalau depa nk buat, FB or not FB, buat juga.

One friend said (though jokingly) this yr he and gang can introduce themselves to young ladies with additional tag "I am fifty, you know...." *wink*

BTW, how come Sabre sesat here?
Azfa said…
Mrs Nordin,
I rasa things will go wrong kalau nawaitu masa 'add friend' ada sikit goncang, then the niat will go wrong la kan. Tapi kalau hati tu macm batu, add la siapa pun, things ok je.
MrsNordin said…

I know what you mean about comments on old school/college photos. Kalau i pun, sure I akan ada rasa sikit jealous. And that's also the reason why I HOPE my husband will not open an FB account! Hee.. hee...

As for me, I use the FB mainly to check on friends' status and their whereabouts, tho' I hardly update mine. It's a nice way to keep in touch, especially to those who matter.

And we can make more friends, just like blogging. But honestly, I prefer blogging to FB tho' I find it very hard to write these days.

On your second comment, I think guys like to try their luck coz they "think" they can handle the situation. But like I always said, don't play with fire...

Women, in general, would remain loyal to their spouses and will not try to flirt on cyberspace (like your exes tu). Imagine if the wife found out the husband is trying to get reconnected with his "old flame", sure sedih.

But you did the right thing. Good!
MrsNordin said…

I like your last sentence.. "As long as I've no fear of she reading what I wrote, I'm still in blue zone.." :)

Everyone should adopt this principle. Better be safe than sorry! Cheers!
MrsNordin said…

Betul ke what you said ni? That the tag line is now, "Hi! I'm Mr. X. And I'm 50." (with lots of money???)

Is that supposed to make us thrill?

I don't know. I suppose money can change a lot of people. At 50, kalau banyak duit, bolehlah tackle girls. Some girls may be blinded by your fat pockets and don't mind being your No. 2 or 3 or 4.

Kalau 50 tapi bawa teksi, kirim salam lah jawabnya... baik jaga anak bini kat rumah!

p/s Btw, who is Sabre? Do you know him/her?
MrsNordin said…

Betul! Betul! It all depends on our intentions. Kalau ada niat nak buat tak baik, susah lah nanti. If you're not looking for it, it won't happen. As easy as that.

Take care !!
sabre23t said…
I like your last sentence.. "As long as I've no fear of she reading what I wrote, I'm still in blue zone.."
Sometimes that's not enough, MrsNordin. I thought I was in the clear just chatting with other GPS kakis on a local forum. The guys started to use hot-chicks as their avatars. I retaliated with Waheeda's for mine. Then she noticed my browser screen is filled with all hot-chicks avatars. I had to sit her down, so that she actually read what we were chatting about, and calm her worries.

BTW, how come Sabre sesat here?
Busymom100, I've been lurking on MrsNordin blog for sometime. I enjoy reading her stories, as yours too.

Btw, who is Sabre? Do you know him/her?
Who me? Just a civil engineer in IT management, who now knows he shares a birth date with busymom100, courtesy of FB.

busymum100 said…

Apart from the birthdate (different year, though), Sabre and I also share the same name too (male & female versions). He is DH's old buddy, "who will be 50 later this year, you know.... *wink*" hahaha!!
MrsNordin said…

Oh dear... what a small world! Enjoy your CNY holiday!
sabre23t said…
Hi MrsNordin,
I did enjoy the CNY just staying in Klang Valley. No jams to fight through. Just FB and FV to pass the time. No old flames requested to be friends on FB. Just a few school friends of daughter, requested to be FB friends, rejected cause not her close friends. ;-)
leenaleeca said…
Hi. Was bloghopping and came to yours. Good one. Ye la... have to be careful with the FB. My hubby not in FB but I really would like him to join, at least jadi my cybercop..;) On second thought, dia tak join pun ok gak... if not berebut PC..:))
sabre23t said…
Mmm, I just read about a perfectly relevant gadget for this post, Stealth iBot Monitor.

Ref ...
* http://www.allfacebook.com/2010/02/facebook-infidelity-sales/
* http://www.brickhousesecurity.com/pc-computer-spy.html
tearose said…
It happens and orang yang kena je yang tau...yang perasan...Sayangnya ramai yang tak mau mengaku...so, kalau terkena, jangan salahkan orang lain, betul tak?

Good posting Ida..

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