Facebook and Old Boyfriends and Girlfriends…

Anonymous has left a new comment on your post “The Roads Not Taken”:
What is your opinion of friending old contestants on facebook?
Athol: This is both simple and complicated.
On one hand it’s a very clear shortcut to losing your spouse to an affair. Old flames can reignite into an inferno of dopamine and desire amazingly quickly. Facebook is cited in 20% of all divorces as a contributing factor, so you’d be totally stupid to tolerate it happening. People only hunt up old friends they still have sexual interest in. Simply contacting them is a major indicator of interest. 
On the other hand, both Jennifer and I have old contestants as Facebook friends. Jennifer is naively trusting, so she basically does nothing. I pay attention and run a low level cockblock, which isn’t hard in that I quite like the guy and we chat probably as much as Jennifer does with him. There is significant distance with both involved as well and that’s a major factor in me being comfortable with it.
That being said, our computers face out into the room, we both have access to each others passwords, and half the time we’re on Facebook we’re sitting side by side and surfing over each others shoulders anyway. We kinda gossip with each other to be honest. You tell one of us something, you tell both of us something. (But that’s as far as it goes.)
We also have each other on GPS on our phones. Which if Jennifer wanted to cheat on me would be framed as “creepy and controlling”, and as “intimate and involved” if she’s into me. I just like to be watched….
So Jennifer and I have a very open access relationship. She’s able to get in my stuff and I’m able to get into hers. So if something was going on with either one of us, there would be a high likelihood of discovery. Now if Jennifer suddenly started closing off that access on me and acting evasive as to why, I would become suspicious of why that was happening, and start rolling out the Secret Squirrel approach.
It’s important to restate that I am a geek, and in this day and age, angry paranoid geeks can pretty much find out anything about you with the right computer and surveillance equipment. Computer access and public records are a beautiful thing. So if something was up, I would find out about it. If that sounds controlling and creepy, that’s because it’s controlling and creepy, but I’m just playing a Tit for Tat strategy. If she’s nice to me and open about what’s going on, I’m nice to her and open about what’s going on. If she wants to play Spy vs Spy, I’ll play Spy vs Spy.
As it is, we both play nice.
The other thing to think about is whether or not Facebook is a cause, or a symptom. If she’s into you, some random ex looking her up on Facebook isn’t going to matter. If she isn’t into you, it could be a random ex looking her up, it could be a co-worker, it could be her best friends husband, it could be a guy at the gym or a guy in a bar. If 20% of divorces mention Facebook as a factor, 80% of them do not.
So my approach is to allow Jennifer total freedom while granting her total access to me, and vice a versa. Then if someone sees something inappropriate starting to happen, they are meant to bust down hard on the other. So innocent until proven guilty, but don’t think for a minute we wouldn’t go Law and Order on each other. (And wow is writing a blog about monogamy a chastity belt!)
On a more positive note, just act like her lover and much of this resolves itself anyway. We text a lot and take up headspace in each other. It’s really not an endless torrent of sexy stuff either, half the time it’s just something funny we just saw or heard about. We’re involved and intimate.


  1. 1bd9e79e-e2a1-11e0-9dda-000bcdca4d7a says:

    "And wow is writing a blog about monogamy a chastity belt!"

    This reminds me of a story I heard from a college friend. She went to high school with the daughter of John Gray (author of "Men are from Mars, Women are from Venus"). Apparently Mom and Dad lived in separate houses on opposite sides of the city; they're basically still married only so as not to screw with his reputation as an expert on relationships.

  2. Truth is there is no defense these days with the internet, one could have everything you know of locked down, but there is nothing to stop a spouse from having a email address you don't know about, another cell phone etc.

    Let's face it , there is a very powerful attraction to " The One that got away", their positive attributes are exaggerated over time, while yours are under scrutiny everyday. Having a rough patch in a marriage and the sudden appearance of 'Studly Perfect' from 1997 is sometimes all it takes, a month later you get the Speech…

  3. @Mike: I had that rough patch earlier this year. Except, my wife was 'the one that got away' and somehow this old friend/lover got wind that we were having a rough spot and he moved in for the kill long-distance style…via email and chats and a handful of phone calls. And "Studly Perfect" from 1997 turned out to be an overweight sports-nut. My wife hates sports. I initially became the angry paranoid geek that Athol describes after stumbling upon an email from him that semi-spilled his guts about how he feels about her.

    She played nice, let him get out his pathetic pining for her and his support for her making decisions that would make her happy – regardless of whether those decisions involved him or not. They corresponded about what 'could have been' but she made it clear that she's living "for better or for worse" and that she can't imagine her life without me in it. The rough patch wasn't static…it was a patch that we were driving over together and she wasn't about to stop and let me out over a few potholes in the road of life. She responded to his sob story with the F-word (friendship) and wished that he'd find somebody to love and who will love him, because she can't imagine her life without me in it.

    My inconsolable (geek) rage allowed me to read every single word exchanged by them via email. Which, in turn, allowed me to head off any of his pathetic advances with some beefed up attention to my wife. Even when she did show an inkling of flirtation with this guy, he'd say something stupid to her anyway, but for a few months it was a lot of sleepless nights for me and a lot of time at the gym boosting my Sex Rank. (And a lot of time writing to Athol, which I can't say thank-you for enough)

    In the end, I got lucky. It was a matter of me stumbling upon an email and keeping my mouth shut (and my eyes open…a la "trust but verify") for a long time and opening my mouth at the right time after I let my wife authentically deal with him in her way – and not with me dictating to her how to do it…

    For the record, they aren't friends on Facebook, either. She checked out his profile one time, perused a couple of his fat pictures and called it a day. Now, when she tells me I have nothing to worry about, I have her words to him to back it up – even if she doesn't know it.

  4. highlander says:

    I unfortunately found an FB email to my wife's best girlfriend that she was planning on leaving me the same weekend she went to visit her and "Talk about it". I called her on it when she came back and she said she was finished with our marriage and moved out later that week.

    It was too late for me to do much about it, I handled the discussion about it very Alpha, no pleading, begging etc., said if she was not happy about herself there was no much I could do about it, and I was not going anywhere. I went full 180 on getting back into the best physical/mental/spiritual shape ever after she left. So far nothing to report, though she is phoning more often to talk to the kids.

  5. Ian Ironwood says:

    I'm in an interesting position because Mrs. Ironwood has a couple of former boyfriends who live in town, and she's still friends with them (one is married, the other hopelessly Beta). As a matter of fact, one is the godfather of one of my kids. I'm not concerned because both of her exes make me look like a Geek God in comparison. My Rank is significantly higher than either of them, and one is married.

    But they keep me honest. They remind me that everyone has options (however pitiful) and if I'm going to enjoy the family life I've carved out for myself with my wife, I have to earn it every day. And I don't hesitate to go all possessive, in a friendly sort of way, when they interact with my wife. She enjoys the display of social dominance and feels comforted by my willingness to kick someone's ass until their nose bleeds on her behalf if the occasion calls for it.

    And as far as facebook . . . that's the least of my worries. It's a horrible time sink and we both avoid it like the plague unless social obligation demands it.

  6. Facebook.


    Especially if you learn what Athol has to teach.

    Just say no.

  7. The Woman Formerly Known As Beautiful says:

    Just make sure your wife isn't Sexually Bored. Be kind and respectful in life, be a real bastard in the bedroom. Boss her around. She's most likely the one who arranges your family's social schedule – like an air traffic controller — she's sick of making decisions so take over in the sack. Let her know who's boss. Then rub her feet like a supplicant after.

  8. Anonymous says:

    yeah ya gotta be attentive. unfortunately i was not keeping my eye on the ball. after some rather exhaustive investigation…found out that Mr Studley Perfect from '79..(high school) reached out to her early last spring. they hadn't talked since a class reunion 15 or so years ago. He's been divorced 8 years and i guess was still getting wood over her. He initiates…i'm not paying attention..bingo 10 years of (mostly) domestic partner bliss gone as of three weeks ago.

    Can't ever be let em too far off the leash. Lesson learned

  9. The MacNut says:


    glad to hear you're not totally dismissive of your wife's exes and let them be incentive to keep you on your toes. You'd be surprised how often married people have affairs with people who are several steps down from the spouse in many ways; the affair partner may be uglier, have less money, be an ex-con (even be more beta). It happens so often there's even a term for it; "affairing down", and it always makes people in the cheating spouse's social circle scratch their heads thinking "What does she see in that LOSER? Why she (or he) risking their marriage for that?"

    As for Facebook, it is definitely a potential danger and an easy way for savvy exes to get in contact. Fortunately my wife wants no part of it precisely because she recognizes the danger (she's not very computer literate anyway). Of course I do my part to keep her eyes and heart on me.

  10. Looking Glass says:

    2 points on Facebook:

    1) Communications, even work ones, should be "open" inside a marriage. Only exception is for truly Classified Material.

    2) Router-level logging. Almost all DSL & Cable modems can do it. If #1 is set, so you can see Email/Facebook at any time, then the only other types of communication would be by hidden accounts. You can't do much about accounts at work, but you can be mindful of the websites being visited and especially "late night" hits.

    It's completely passive and just gives you an idea of traffic patterns. If there's a sudden amount of traffic change on Facebook, or logs from 2 am, it's a good idea to get really suspicious really quickly. Then you just play things silent.

  11. It´s not called "Fuckbook" for nothing.

    Or "Spybook" by the crowd-in-the-know.

    Hands of the damn thing.

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