Dear Wendy
Dear Wendy

“Should I Accept My Ex’s Friend Request on Facebook?”

I’m 25 years old, and have been happily married for seven years. Yes, we were high school sweethearts, and survived four years of long distance to get where we are today. Over the weekend, I got a message from an ex on Facebook, followed by a friend request. Now this isn’t just any ex-boyfriend, he was my first boyfriend, first time having sex, and when we were very young, we got pregnant, and we placed our son for adoption. We stayed together for a short while afterward, but then he broke up with me and I was devastated. That was 12 years ago. It took me a very long time to get over this guy. But eventually I did, and about two years later, I met my now husband who is the complete opposite of this guy, and is everything I need.

It’s now been about six years since we’ve talked. He dropped off the face of the planet, which threw me for a loop. When we broke up, we agreed that we would stay in contact in case our son decided to find one of us and we would be able to help him connect with the other. So, here I am today, with this message from him: “Hey, how have you been? I guess its been awhile huh. So how has life been treating you?”

I’m not sure if I should respond, and what the hell I would even say to him if I did. I asked my husband what his thoughts were, and he said he doesn’t care if I respond to him or not. I don’t know if I want to respond, because, well, that was a very different and difficult part of my life that I don’t want pulled back into. Am I making a bigger deal out of this than I should be? — Facebook Flashback


If you don’t want to respond, don’t. You have every reason to be hesitant and every right to ignore him. There’s no “should” here. If this is a big deal to you — and I, for one, can certainly understand why it would be — only do what you feel comfortable with. If that means hitting the big ol’ “ignore” button on his friend request, go for it, because if you don’t, you’re basically inviting this guy from your past to be a presence in your present. You’re inviting him to peek into your life, look at photos of you, and make judgments and comments about what your life looks like now. Who needs that? It doesn’t sound like you do, so ignore the guy. There is no reason whatsoever you “should” feel you need to respond, end of story.

If you’re at all concerned about the biological son you gave up for adoption years ago finding you and/or your ex, rest assured that if he has a way to find your name and the location of his birth, in this day and age of Facebook and Google searching, it probably won’t be hard to track either of you down, whether you’re in touch with your ex or not. I’m sure that carrying your son to term at 13 years old — if I’m doing my math right here — and then giving him up for adoption was a huge, huge sacrifice. You are under no obligation to make another sacrifice for that little boy by maintaining any contact with his biological father if doing so causes you pain. Trust that you’ve made enough sacrifices for his well-being. This is the time to continue focusing on your well-being.

*If you have a relationship/dating question I can help answer, send me your letters at wendy@dearwendy.com.

57 comments… add one
  • avatar

    kerrycontrary April 21, 2011, 9:13 am

    Holy Guacamole this LW went through A LOT at a young age. Pregnant at 13…Married at 18? You deserve to do what makes you happy now!

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    convexexed April 21, 2011, 9:42 am

    They agreed to stay in contact after the breakup, and then the ex drops off the grid for 6 years? Sounds like he broke the agreement, and the LW is under no obligation to ‘friend’ him back just to maintain the contact he already broke. Clearly, the ex knows how to contact the LW—if some information about the son came up, he could notify her of that in a Facebook message; you don’t need to be friends with someone to send them a message. If he sent a friend request, it’s because he wants to satisfy his curiousity—the ‘what if’ question, the ‘where is she now’ question. I can understand how the LW might feel it’s harmless to let him see her page, and maybe it is. But sometimes, it’s okay for people to have those ‘what if/whatever happened to’ questions and not necessarily get answers. People might want to be able to disappear, then reappear for a minute, then disappear, and always keep you just within their grasp. But people don’t always get what they want, and the ex might just have lost his chance to stay in touch with the LW. She has carried a lot in her young life already, and the past is the past. It’s not her responsibility to satisfy his curiosity at the risk of re-opening an old hurt or re-visiting a difficult time in her life.

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    Bethany April 21, 2011, 9:52 am

    If I was in your position I would ignore the message and ignore the friend request. If your child does contact you in the future, I don’t think you’d have a super hard time locating the father if your child wanted to meet him– I mean, he found you on FB, so it can’t be that hard. But opening your life up to this guy on the assumption/hope that one day your child might reach out to you is a risk I don’t think you should take. Your life seems to be going great at this point and why open up an old wound when it’s not necessary??

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      TheOtherMe April 21, 2011, 10:12 am

      I agree, there is nothing really to gain here for the LW. This would probably just open up old wounds.

      Seems like she has already gone through enough & I am happy because it really does sound like she has found the right man for her.

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    SGMcG April 21, 2011, 10:09 am

    It’s called a friend request for a reason. You have no obligation to automatically accept it if you have received it. Heck, you have no obligation to even respond to it – there is an ignore button for that purpose. Your ex may have been the father of the child you gave up to adoption, but he was never a man. Your husband sounds like an outsanding man. If your son does wish to reach out to you in the future, turn to your husband and your family for support – you don’t need your ex anymore.

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  • avatar

    Kate April 21, 2011, 10:14 am

    Ignore it. That’s a blast from the past I wouldn’t want.

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    ArtsyGirl April 21, 2011, 10:23 am

    Now I am going to cut the ex some slack. It might be that he is attempting to make atonement for mistakes in his past. If he was as young as the LW, then they were both children when they had their relationship. Ultimately it is up to her if she wants to respond to his request like others have said.

    I personally would not friend him, but I would send him a message stating that I had moved past that part of my life and am in a healthy space which could be strained if I was forced to relive what happened during the relationship. That way he knows where you are coming from and can gracefully bow out.

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    • avatar

      cat-i-z April 21, 2011, 10:44 am

      The last paragraph is spot on.. Arstygirl! I totally agree!

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    LolaBeans April 21, 2011, 10:29 am

    Gosh, this post made me cry.

    LW, do what you feel most comfortable with. Doesn’t have to be what’s “right”. You deserve some peace in your life.
    If in the future you want to contact this person, i’m sure it won’t be very hard to find them.
    All the best.

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  • avatar

    AnitaBath April 21, 2011, 10:36 am

    I agree with Wendy, but I’d also urge the LW to keep in mind that what happened happened over a decade ago, when the LW and the ex were barely even teenagers. The guy has problem done A LOT of changing and is hardly even the same person anymore.

    But, like everyone else is saying, do what makes you feel comfortable. Don’t do it out of any sense of obligation or feel like you need to.

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  • avatar

    demoiselle April 21, 2011, 10:43 am

    What would be the advantage of friending him and resuming contact? You’ll be prepared to pass on contact information if someday, maybe your child looks you up? If that is the only strong reason you have for friending him (and you sound pretty ambivalent about it), it doesn’t seem to be worth the risk of unsettling your life. Exes on facebook and in real life seem to have a habit of intruding on current, happy lives…

    If you wish to remain cordial but don’t want him to have regular contact with you or to be keeping tabs on your life via your live feed, there is no reason not to send him a brief message updating him as you see fit, and explain that your past relationship is confusing enough that you don’t want to friend him at this point.

    You could request contact information (mailing address, email, phone number, and perhaps his parents’ info) so that you can have it available in case your child comes looking. Then, if you wish to keep tabs, you can send him a holiday card once per year. That leaves most of the control in your hands.

    However, there is really no reason to maintain contact with him at all if you don’t like. He may be trying to alleviate his guilt for disappearing by suddenly asserting himself–but really, that was his mistake, and it’s not your responsibility to make him feel better by being “friends” now.

    Incidentally, I friended my ex a few years ago. I was trying to resolve my mixed-up feelings, some four years after our breakup. At first it felt better, because it looked like his life was going well. But then I realized that it was really just as f*ed up as before, and that he was just as big a jerk as he used to be. The burden of his life became too much for me, and I had to block him. I’m sorry I ever friended him. He didn’t deserve that much of my mental space.

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    • avatar

      ArtsyGirl April 21, 2011, 11:11 am

      It should also be pointed out that unless he has an insanely common name like Bob Smith then it is much easier for children to track down their birth fathers rather than their birth mother who might have changed their name due to marriage.

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  • avatar

    callmehobo April 21, 2011, 10:52 am

    Oh my goodness, LW,

    I’m so sorry that you had such a tumultuous childhood, but it sounds like you are healthy and happy relationship, which is awesome!

    LW, you are not obligated to invite him back into your life. It’s not selfish to make sure that you continue to be happy by avoiding painful reminders of your past. Your main obligation is to yourself! If you can’t handle having him back in your life, it’s perfectly understandable.

    However, if you DO decide to accept this request, I would advise you to think about your motivations for doing so. Are you genuinely interested in being involved in his life, or are you doing it for the son that you gave up for adoption? If you really want to open a line of communication with this guy for your own reasons, then go for it and proceed with caution. If you want to do this for your son (because honestly, there is no guarantee that he will find you and your ex through facebook) then I would say you shouldn’t do it.

    For some perspective on the whole finding biological family members- My mother was orphaned at a very young age and lost all communication with all her paternal relatives. She didn’t even really know anything about her father. She was 44 years old before she found her father’s brother.
    Are you willing to risk your emotional health for an event that may be 30 years from now?

    You sound like a very strong woman, and I hope that you have many blessings in your life. Please take care of yourself, because you deserve it!

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  • avatar

    Elle April 21, 2011, 10:01 am

    From my experience – when I have doubts about doing something, I’m better off not doing it. I did half-hearted things only to regret them earlier, and I have this “principle” now – if I’m not 100% comfortable, I’m not doing it.

    You’re obviously not comfortable being friends with the ex, so don’t do it. convexexed explained very clearly that you and the ex can find each other if need may be, and also why you shouldn’t feel weird about it – you don’t owe him anything.

    At most, if you are a very nice person (which you don’t have to be), you can send him a message telling him you’re not going to be his friend on FB (you can blame it on your husband, I’m sure he wouldn’t mind), and the only reason he should contact you in the future is if your son contacts him first.

    Best of luck

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  • avatar

    LolaBeans April 21, 2011, 11:02 am

    On another note, did the frisky go under today?

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      cat-i-z April 21, 2011, 11:10 am

      Was wondering that myself….

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      Kate April 21, 2011, 11:12 am

      It’s definitely down at 10:15 CST…

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      TheGirl April 21, 2011, 11:12 am

      I thought it was just me!

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      LolaBeans April 21, 2011, 11:12 am

      is it ‘down’ as it has been the last two weeks.. or like done?

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        ReginaRey April 21, 2011, 11:14 am

        By “down” do you mean a complete lack of interesting articles, and a complete overabundance of celebrity nonsense?

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        TheGirl April 21, 2011, 11:16 am

        …and an over abundance of slide shows that take forever to click through?

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        Kate April 21, 2011, 11:28 am

        Seconded. Never go there anymore after Wendy set this site up!

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        Theenemyofmyenemyisagrilledcheesesandwich April 21, 2011, 1:00 pm

        Yes! This!

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        MissDre April 21, 2011, 11:44 am

        For real, The Frisky has been really crappy for a while now… I just hope they send me the French Connection dress I won 2 months ago and still haven’t received…

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        LolaBeans April 21, 2011, 11:59 am

        oh woww… thats crazy!!

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        jena April 21, 2011, 11:52 am

        And offensively written lady-news articles in which the writer says she has no clue why such a thing would be important to write on or didn’t even bother reading the article so has no understanding of it?

        I’m pretty tired of that site.

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        ReginaRey April 21, 2011, 12:12 pm

        Agreed. I’m also pretty tired of that particular “writer.” Girl is a hot mess, with no notions of what constitutes a healthy relationship…but she sure acts like she knows just about everything.

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        Sarah April 21, 2011, 12:23 pm

        I dunno, if its the writer I think you’re talking about, I kinda like her stuff. She’s like Carrie Bradshaw. You’d be a fool to take her romantic advice seriously but her story is interesting.

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        HmC April 21, 2011, 12:32 pm

        Not to be mean, but reading their relationship articles are more like watching a train wreck than actually getting sound advice that I respect. I find myself cringing often.

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        ReginaRey April 21, 2011, 12:35 pm

        Precisely. Wendy was about the only one I ever respected and trusted…clearly, since I’m here 🙂

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      • Firegirl32

        Firegirl32 April 21, 2011, 5:40 pm

        And JDV…I always enjoyed the Mind of Man columns…but even his is sparse lately.

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        EB April 21, 2011, 7:56 pm

        She reminds of myself…
        at like age 14 …
        When I was CONVINCED I was practically an adult and thought that I was about a million times more mature/insightful than i actually was…

        *shudder*

        I found an old diary from that era a few years back; I could only get through about a page and a half before I became overcome with an an overwhelming urge to punch my former self in the face

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        hana April 21, 2011, 8:28 pm

        When did that happen? I just want to read the article where the author said that.

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        ape escape April 22, 2011, 10:08 am

        I would just like to point out that there is a blurb on the Frisky from this morning on how to hide the “unsightly wrinkles on your knees”, or “ninkles.”

        Shut. The. Front. Door.

        is this a joke?

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      • Dear Wendy

        Wendy April 22, 2011, 10:16 am

        Well, it’s better than another slideshow on celebs who have worn braces as adults.

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      • avatar

        ape escape April 22, 2011, 2:55 pm

        or animals with weird hair…?

        Ha. Ugh. I think I’m done.

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    • avatar

      ReginaRey April 21, 2011, 11:13 am

      Thanks for bringing this up…I was confused! So it’s not just me that suddenly can’t get on that site?

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        Sarah April 21, 2011, 11:33 am

        Me too. Their site seems to be down a lot. I’m pretty sure their servers are made of papier-mâché.

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      Anastasiachs April 21, 2011, 12:09 pm

      It’s Noon EST and I’m still getting a database error.

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    sarolabelle April 21, 2011, 11:25 am

    Just ignore him.

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  • Jess

    Jess of CityGirlsWorld.com April 21, 2011, 11:25 am

    Wendy is right, of course. I would add two things.

    1. You can add him as a friend and then set your privacy setting such that he sees nothing more than your bio info. This takes some work and may be pointless but it is an option if you want to have a link to him without allowing him to see much about YOUR life. Keep in mind you would still be able to see his updates (you can “hide” them but that won’t stop you from being able to look at his page if temptation got the better of you)

    2. Ok I have forgotten my second thing…. Sat here for 3 full minutes trying to remember. I need more coffee.

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  • avatar

    HmC April 21, 2011, 12:10 pm

    “Fuck Facebook” ~Wendy

    If you have to seriously question whether to add someone as a friend on Facebook, I say always default to not adding. Especially with a history as involved and dramatic as the one here. There’s no real upside to adding him, and plenty of downside. If you add him, you could find yourself e-stalking him or him you, which isn’t healthy. You don’t need to be looking at each other’s pictures and making stupid online comments to each other. Especially after he disappeared and lost the right to have you as a friend.

    And I mean, what’s the upside of adding him? That he can find you? He clearly already can. Since your kid probably won’t be looking for either of you for a while, if ever, I’d maybe just be sure that your ex has a working email for you down the line. And you’re free to revoke that, should he act inappropriately at all (ie. asking for you back, harassing you etc.).

    Rejecting his facebook request and setting personal boundaries with your ex should not, ideally, be about holding a grudge or hatred. You’ve simply moved on from the pain you suffered with him, and your life should reflect that. People should earn your trust and deserve to be in your life, and, as of now, this man doesn’t. And that’s ok. You seem to have a good support system otherwise. You don’t need to open yourself up to more pain from him. Maybe way in the future you can be friends, but that time probably isn’t now.

    LW, congratulations on building a positive life for yourself after such an ordeal. Personally, it kind of blows my mind that you had a kid that young and then turned around and got married so young on top of that… not judging you for that, it’s just very different than what I’ve typically seen in my life. So it’s hard for me to relate to having gone through all that, and still being only 25!

    Also, well done giving up a child that you knew you weren’t ready for. You’ve selflessly given that child a real opportunity for success in life, by giving him parents that wanted him and were ready to be parents.

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    • avatar

      EB April 21, 2011, 8:01 pm

      agreed. anytime that you give an ex-boyfriend so much thought that you take the time to write in to an advice column, they are taking up too much headspace.

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    Theenemyofmyenemyisagrilledcheesesandwich April 21, 2011, 12:58 pm

    Agreed!

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    bostonpupgal April 21, 2011, 1:46 pm

    It seems like you’re looking for our blessing to not friend him, because you really don’t want to but would feel guilty not doing so in case your child ever wanted to contact you. I say, if it makes you uncomfortable or would drag up bed memories, don’t do it.

    As for worrying about your child being able to find you some day, can you contact the adoption agency you used and update them on your info? I’m not really sure how all that works, and depending on how ‘closed’ the adoption was they may not be able to give that info out, but maybe give them a call, let them know they have your consent to release any info about yourself if your child would ever seek it, and give them updated phone and email contacts. At most, you could send a facebook message back to your ex saying “hey, I really don’t think we can be fb friends given how longs it’s been and that I’m married now with another life, but fyi I sent my updated contact info to the adoption agency in case our son ever wants to get in touch with us, and I suggest you do the same”

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  • rubyroo

    RJKUSER April 21, 2011, 2:04 pm

    Delete and buh-bye!

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    AKchic April 21, 2011, 4:38 pm

    There is no right or wrong in this situation. Just what feels right to you. You do not owe this guy anything. I want you to know that right now. Your obligations to him ended when you two separated years ago. Hell, it ended when you two gave your child up for adoption.

    If you aren’t sure that it is a good idea to communicate with him then being friends with him ISN’T a good idea. Why? Because when he comments on your posts, pictures, etc, you will question and second guess all of your decisions. That isn’t something that you, your husband or any possible children you have together (you didn’t mention if you and your husband have any) need.

    I think for now that maybe communicating via email to catch up might be okay for now. Just to catch up. It might give you insight into WHY he is opening the line of communication at this juncture. He disappeared for 6 years. There may be an explanation. Depression, drugs, etc. Something made him leave/disappear. Something has made him reappear. You owe him nothing. However, compassion costs nothing if you are cautious.

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  • avatar

    SpyGlassez April 21, 2011, 4:53 pm

    Just be aware that as long as his friend request sits there, he can see your wall. It’s kind of a glitch in FB but I can read the posts of people to whom I have sent friend requests to before they even accept them. There’s only one way to make sure you actually get rid of a friend request, and FB doesn’t make it evident. This is how you do it: You click on the “Not Now” button. Then go to the “Requests page.” Click on “See hidden requests.” From there you can confirm or delete the request. That is the only way to make sure he cannot see your wall and so forth. The other option, as someone suggested, is to add him but then put him on a restricted viewing so he cannot access your information.

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      SpaceySteph April 22, 2011, 10:28 am

      Ooh facebook is evil. How ridiculous that you must jump through these hoops to keep someone who you DON’T want to be friends with from knowing your secrets.

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        TheOtherMe April 22, 2011, 10:39 am

        But… but, don’t people know that Facebook and secrets just don’t go together ?

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    Kate April 22, 2011, 10:33 am

    Even with the highest security settings?

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      SpyGlassez April 22, 2011, 2:15 pm

      My understanding is that even with high security settings that’s the case, but I could be incorrect.

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    belongsomewhere April 23, 2011, 5:13 pm

    LW, I am a 21-year-old adoptee and I recently reconnected with my birth mother. She was in a bad situation with my birth father, and they fell out of touch (which was the best thing for her to do). Now she and I and my biological sister (who she raised) are sort of interested in getting in touch with him (or testing the waters) and we’re having some trouble finding him. If he wasn’t bad for you (like my birth father was for my birth mother), and you aren’t worried about it hurting your mental health, it may be worth it to be in minimal contact with him throughout the years.

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