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"Friend" Request from Ex

"Friend" Request from Ex

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Dear Rachel,

I have a wonderful marriage with my husband who I met after college. I have always been very open and honest with him and we really have no secrets between us. Yet recently, I started reconnecting with a lot of friends through a social networking site. At first it was great and exciting to see all of their pictures and find out what is happening with their lives. But the other day my ex-boyfriend tried to "friend" me, and my heart stopped. On the one hand, I so badly want to see if he is married, if he has kids, what he looks like, etc. On the other hand, I am nervous to know and not sure I really want to. But the worst part is that I immediately deleted the email from him, as I was worried my husband would see it and get upset. I feel like if I do accept his friend request, I will have to hide it from my husband. A part of me keeps saying that this is ridiculous and no big deal and there is no reason why I shouldn't accept, the other part worries that I don't want to have a secret that I keep from my husband. Am I overreacting?

Worried,
Stamford, CT

Dear Worried,

Technology has provided us with tremendous opportunities to reconnect and find long lost friends who otherwise we may never have been able to be in touch with again. Simultaneously, it has allowed people who we really never need to be in contact with again, to contact us! It sounds like you really do know the answer to your question, but that your curiosity is getting the best of you.

Sure, it is fun to look at pictures of people and see how they have changed. And that might be innocent, as long as it is not with someone who you had feelings for and a relationship with. You wrote yourself that seeing his name made your heart stop. Clearly this is someone who you were emotionally connected to, and yet, is someone who has not been a part of your life for many years.

You are happily married to a man you trust and who trusts you. If you cannot discuss this with him, it is because you know deep down that it is inappropriate. Either you have no feelings whatsoever for your ex, in which case, why should you care what he looks like or what he is doing? Or he is someone that you might have latent feelings for, and by seeing him again, even on the Internet, those feelings could come back to life and to the forefront of your mind.

In Hebrew, the word for a transgression is aveirah. The root of this word is avar which means "the past." Why is the past connected to a transgression? Because we are to live in the present. We are to live in the here and now while we focus on our future. It is one thing to delve into our past to rectify something or learn a lesson from it, but just to focus on our past if it doesn't help our present, but rather makes us go backwards, is not healthy and is potentially dangerous.

I imagine that you would not want your husband thinking about his ex-girlfriend or looking at pictures of her. Allow your past to remain in your past. There is no need to bring this ex into your present. And if you are concerned about hurting his feelings or that he will think it was rude that you didn't respond…it could happen. But it is much better that you annoy someone who is not part of your life than hurt your husband, who loves you, respects you and trusts you. Your husband needs to come first, and if he is going to be upset (and rightly so) then there is no question that you should not pursue anything in this direction. And even if he has no problem with it, be honest with yourself and your own emotions. Yes, we might want to feed our wonder as to how someone is doing now, but just hope that like you, he is happy and healthy with a wonderful wife and family, and leave it at that.

So bottom line, ignore his request to be your friend. He is not your friend, he is your ex-boyfriend. And should remain in your past.

Rachel

"Dear Rachel" is a bi-weekly column that is answered by a rotating group of experts. This question was answered by Sara Esther Crispe.

Sara Esther Crispe, a writer, inspirational speaker and mother of four, is the Co-Director of Interinclusion, a non-profit multi-layered educational initiative celebrating the convergence between contemporary arts and sciences and timeless Jewish wisdom. Prior to that she was the editor of TheJewishWoman.org and wrote the popular weekly blog, Musing for Meaning. To book Sara Esther for a speaking engagement, please click here.
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stacey brooklyn, ny July 28, 2012

;ost ;ove i too had an ex find me and all the feelings came flooding back how he cheated on me i unfriended him he tried to message me i blocked him we both have been happily married to others for 24 years there is no couldliving in coulda woulda shoulda land it depreaceates the present property values Reply

David Aharon Lndzon Toronto, ON Canada February 8, 2012

ex problems or in general May i make it clear to all that my advice applies to both halves ...

Once you are married you must not let ANYONE interfere with your marriage... Adam was created alone and together with Chava made the marriage work ...

i challenge the men out there to go out with your wife and try staring at another woman ... i guarantee you will have a problem within an hour with your wife. Hashem built this into the marriage... You signed a marriage contract and one of your requirements is to honor your wife. this means to make her 1st place in your life. So that she does not have to look elsewhere for her satisfaction.It is important to understand this point.
If this is too strong , it is because it is the only way to get the message out. Reply

Karen Joyce Chaya Fradle Kleinman Bell Riverside, CA, USA February 8, 2012

David, I agreed with you until the end statement. If G-d created Adam and Chava to make their spous the one and only one, why, in Judaism, was it legal for a man to have many wives? On the other hand, I am SO happy that you, a man, feels like monogamy is holy! Thank you. Reply

David Aharon Lndzon Toronto, ON Canada February 8, 2012

re friend request my question to the lady is based on rabbi Shalom Arush's approach....
assuming this marriage is a solid marriage , why are you looking on the Internet for extra curricular activities in the first place? If you have oodles of time on your hands why don't you go out to Woman's class or volunteer group.
Even if you didn't meet your ex here, you could easily be caught up with another man because of what you are doing now. G-d created adam and chava as a single entitity so that all of humanity make their spouse one and only one in the whole world. Reply

Karen Joyce Chaya Fradle Kleinman Bell Riverside, CA, USA June 14, 2011

Another way to communicate is to... Pass the communication on to your husband and let the men talk together. After my divorce, I did look up an old ex, and found that he had just as many personality problems and hangups as my ex, and that if I HAD married him, my life would have been a disaster. So, the curiosity was satisfied. Another ex, I met, and the same thing. He was a total jerk. After meeting them, I didn't want to be friends again. While I was married, I turned one of them away from my doorstep when he brought me a gift from Israel. I told him I wanted to abstain from the appearance of evil, and he couldn't even come into the house. Afterwards, I found out my husband was actually cheating on me! What irony. But, I did what I felt was the right thing, and did not friend my ex boyfriends while I was married. Yes, it can work out, but also, you can entertain nasty thoughts if you "open the door" to that interaction. Reply

Anonymous burbank, ca/usa December 1, 2010

ex An ex is some one who knows you very well. sometimes they can be your best friends, if both of you have no more romatic feelings of each other. Reply

Beth Miriam A Chicago Suburb August 14, 2010

Another Thought I have several ex-boyfriends as friends on my social networking site (I married later in life). My husband is well aware of this and could care less. My past has had a hand in creating my present and these men are a part of that. I have no feelings for them any more, if I had I would not be married to my husband, I would be married to one of them. My husband's response is "yeah, but I got ya". He is confident enough in himself and our marriage to know that a casual "wow your kids are cute" or a "glad to know that you did follow that dream" post on a public site is nothing more then a casual conversation. I am not interested in ignoring my past.

If you are uncomfortable "friending" an old boyfriend then by all means follow your instincts but if you feel a kindness and friendship to them talk with your husband and go ahead and say "Hi". Reply

Anonymous chicago, IL April 12, 2010

Ex I am reading this from the other side. I actually contacted my ex and found him online. We had communicated a few years ago and then cut it off when he emailed me constantly with Jewish questions. Sometimes when I'm frustrated with my husband my mind wanders to the ex and fantasizes that it would have been oh so perfect. Fortunately my husband is very understanding and open ( his ex contacted him also) and when I told him he says but I'm the one who married you. Thus saying I loved you enough to marry you and the other one didn't. Then I'm ultimately reminded of the reasons why I married him. I even allowed myself to think of life with the ex now and how ridiculous it would be as I became a baal teshuva and he didn't. In fact part of my email was about Judaism and he didn't write back after that. He finally got married and we emailed photos of our kids and while he was my first love he is not the present one.
G-d had you choose your husband for a reason and he is what is best. Reply

Anonymous Greenville April 7, 2010

Yep Just now My ex from 3-4 years ago contacted me this year. His email stated that he hope I had a great chirstmas and that all is well. I've been happily married for two years now. I did not reply to the email. It took me so long to move on from him and find happiness. A couple of days ago he friend requested me on a myspace account I thought I had deleted months ago. I re deleted my myspace and check to make sure it was gone from their search system. I have no curiosity about where he is and what he's doing but I silently hope all is going well for him. I also hope he can forgive the rudeness but my family must come first. Reply

Marineusa Berlin, Germany March 3, 2010

Friend request from Ex! Amazing how we are put to situations like this, my husband and I too have an network thing, and my ex husband come in w/ friend req. I showed my husband and wanted to hear from him how he felt, and also because I too wanted to share my feelings about it, for to me was if we did not manage to share our lifes together in a way that worked out and G-d has blessed me w/an wonderful husband today, why would I allow this storm to come in into the blessing I share w/my husband to someone that has nothing to do w/ it? No! He was my past, and for me that has no place in my life today, no remaking it as just friends! If you still feel bad about it I suggest you open your self up to your husband and tell him. Reply

Anonymous Seattle, WA October 23, 2009

I went through this exact same thing! I actually talked to the ex-boyfriend through facebook and it was a BIG mistake! All the old feelings were brought back and my husband was hurt when I talked to him about it. I cut off contact with the ex-boyfriend and told him that we can't talk and can't be friends. He was cool with it. I also told him that I would pray for him to find a wife. Reply

Anonymous December 4, 2008

In the same boat I am amazed that I found this post "by chance" when I'm going through the EXACT same thing. It is very unsettling to remember past intense feelings you once had for someone else when you are happily married. I'm speaking from experience. Unfortunately, in the last week, my mind has continued to wander to my "ex" boyfriend because of his email contact with me. Rachel's comments reached my mind and soul exactly at the right time to give me perspective on my situation and feelings. But it is very hard to fight curiosity and to keep those old feelings at bay. What I find helps is to look at my husband and concentrate on him. When he speaks to me, I turn to him and fully concentrate on him. I study him and remember all the reasons he is right for me and "ex" is not. Not starting any correspondence is ideal and if correspondence did start, ending it promply will give you a feeling of empowerment over your curiosity and feelings and will make you feel like you've done the right thing. Reply

Dana Greenville, SC December 3, 2008

Good Advice I agree with Rachel and think that "Worried" was right to delete the message. As wives (and husbands!) who are sometimes faced with these types of situations, we must always ask ourselves, "Would this be hurtful to the person I love?" If the answer to that question is "yes," then we need to choose the right path and hit delete! Reply

Josh (Yoshi) Dember Waban, MA November 30, 2008

Rachel's advice is sound, but misses an essential important factor for Mrs. Worried to consider: That essential factor is advice on how Mrs. Worried is able to continue her unbroken level of trust with her husband.

Rachel comments to Mrs. Worried: "if you are concerned about hurting [your husband's] feelings or that he will think it was rude that you didn't respond…it could happen. " However, the best way to avoid this scenario is to tell your husband something like, "I was contacted by my ex, and I deleted his e-mail because I don't want him interfering with our lives, because I love you." Putting that much out on the table for her husband will stop him from being hurt - because by sharing with him the actions you've taken, you've kept your trust intact.

Furthermore, what if this social network story wasn't about an e-mail on a social network, but having to deal with an ex as a co-worker (you can't simply "press delete" in that situation).
Reply

Anne via lubavitch.fi November 27, 2008

beyond the topic, but nevertheless: I must wonder, what is going on in the ex-boyfriend's mind. What was his motive to ask for friendship and send a mail? If he knows, that his ex, mrs "worried", is married, he should think twice. And what about himself: if he is married as well, i doubt his wife approves of him approaching an ex-girlfriend. Reply

Yvonne Chao Mombasa, Kenya November 19, 2008

Very true.. Hi Rachael, i very much agree with you regarding the situation of this worried lady. Despite her curiosity to know how her "ex" has faired on in his life since they last communicated or saw each other, i think she should just let the past be what it is, the past....She seems to be in a happy marriage as it is and please, i pray that she wont try to jeopardise it by delving again into her past. Let her accept the fact that her "ex" was only meant to be a passing cloud in her life and only G-d knows why she found and settled with the man that she is with now. Tempting as it is, i pray that she may find the courage to fight that feeling. Her "ex" should also respect the fact that she moved on (for whatever reasons that forced her to do so) and is now a happily settled woman! Reply

Anonymous November 18, 2008

Very wise advice This story is given with very wise advice and i hope that the worried women will listen to the truthful wise advice given. Reply

ISABEL MERCADO Weslaco, TX November 18, 2008

As I reading this letter, I was hoping Rachel's answer would be the same answer I would give if someone asked me this question. Rachel's answer was the same. Let the past stay in the past. People change over the years and this type of communication might begin something that later on you wish you had not. He may not be the same person he was several years ago and communicating with him could be detrimental to your marraige. You did right by deleting that email and please go back to your computer and delete it from the recycle bin (if it is there). Be happy that you have such a wonderful husband. Reply

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