Dear Wendy
Dear Wendy

“My Husband Friended His Ex on Facebook and I Went Ballistic”

My husband sent his ex-girlfriend from 30 years ago a friend request on Facebook but did not tell me about it. He responded to her FB messages when she asked about his mum even though he told me he didn’t respond. I saw he was a friend with her on FB and I went ballistic. I told him to block her, or he and I were finished. He did block her that day but unblocked her a few days later. I told him to block her again, and he said that he thought he had. His ex has come up in a lot of arguments over the past 30 years as his sisters are all friends with her on FB also. I told him that he had completely disrespected me and had betrayed me. He stated that he didn’t do anything wrong as there were no feelings for her and it was just a friend request even though he knew that I would be mad. I am finding it very hard to forgive as I believe that if I had not caught him, this would have continued. He even lied about there being any message. We have four grown-up boys and we have had our ups and downs like any other marriage, but I feel the trust is now completely gone and I don’t know what to do. I believe that he would not have reached out if he had no feelings for her even though he stated that he doesn’t still love her.

Any guidance from your experience would be welcomed. — Ballistic

Whatever is going on in your marriage and/or with your mental health is what needs your focus here. Your attention is completely misdirected, and your seething anger and jealousy is completely unwarranted. There’s nothing inappropriate or unseemly about two exes connecting on social media thirty years after breaking up – even if one or both are married to other people. People do this all the time, especially if there are mutual connections, as is the case with your husband and his ex. That you’ve gone “ballistic” over this and find it hard to forgive your husband and say the “trust is now completely gone” suggests some much deeper issues here that I urge you to address. Your reaction is not normal or healthy. It’s really alarming. I hope you will take this in the spirit it’s intended: You need the help of a therapist who can work with you over the course of multiple sessions to help you unpack the source of your rage and heal so that you can move forward as the healthiest — and hopefully happiest — version of yourself possible.

From the forums:

I am 25 years old and a first-time mom to a healthy, wonderful six-month-old boy. Ever since I can remember, I have always thought I’d be an amazing mom. I love kids, and after I married my husband, we both wanted a baby. During my pregnancy, I had an idea of what my baby would be like and what we would do together, but it turns out motherhood is not that easy. My baby had colic and would cry so much I didn’tknow what I could do to help him. I felt terrible; I felt like a failure as my little one cried. It was nothing like what I thought it would be. He’s outgrown colic, but he seems like a sad baby. I try to make him laugh: I tickle him and we go for walks, but he just doesn’t seem happy when he is with me. His dad can make him belly laugh — he gets excited when he sees his dad, but I don’t get that with him. I love my boy, but lately he has been crying when he is with me. He cries so much that he gets all sweaty and red, and it makes me feel sad, as though he doesn’t love me. I put him down, he cries, I pick him up, he cries. He is a healthy baby — nothing is wrong. It’s gotten to the point where I don’t know what to do; I just sit next to him and cry with him. Then he kicks me away or takes his hands back when I touch him. I’ve thought maybe he’d be happier with somebody else — somebody more patient, more loving, more fun. I’m not perfect — I get stressed and I’m tired, but I love my baby and I want my baby to love me, to be happy when he is with me. I feel inadequate as a mother, and I feel bad that my boy is stuck with me. — Sad New Mom

 
Being a new mom can be so hard, but it sounds like you’re really doing a wonderful job. I know this because you are thoughtful about your relationship with your baby and you took the time to write in for advice. That already shows how much you care and love your baby and want the best for him. That is a sign of a great parent!

But here’s the thing: Your baby is way, way too young to have the kinds of thoughts and feelings you are attributing to him. You seem to believe he doesn’t love you or doesn’t want to be with you. Did you know that at six months old, your baby doesn’t even know you two are separate people? It’s true! It’s not until between 7-12 months that a baby begins to recognize his or her mother as a separate person. So, any messages you believe are being communicated through his tears are NOT reflective of his relationship to you. He literally does not even know you are a separate person. At this point, his relationship with you is the same as his relationship with himself. And when he sees his daddy, he’s probably excited to have the company of someone besides himself/you (since, in his mind, you two are the same person).

If that doesn’t resonate for you, let me try this: I experienced the same thing with my son when he was a baby and I understand how devastating and stressful it feels. I remember so clearly all the tears – his, mine – and the frustration I felt that I wasn’t being the good mom I always thought I would be. I remember how rejected I felt when my son would turn toward his dad and be happy to see him but act like he wanted nothing to do with me. I wrote about it here, actually, when my son was a toddler and this was STILL going on. In fact, this rejection continued for about three years (and then off and on for some time after that), and it was hard. But eventually things changed, and I’m happy to say that my son, who turns 8 in October, and I have a really great relationship now.

This change didn’t happen overnight and it didn’t happen without a lot of self-reflection and, frankly, some outside help. I sought parenting advice from professional child psychologists and all of us got some therapy. While I was so grateful and relieved that my son was physically healthy, my husband and I made sure he was mentally healthy as well. For peace of mind, we had evaluations done to determine whether anything might be affecting our son’s development, and we learned some things that helped us help him and that helped us put into perspective behavior that wasn’t always typical of his age or reflective of his peer group.

Babies and children develop differently. I would advise you to try to find or form a social group for your son with similarly-aged babies so you can observe how he’s developing in comparison. If he seems particularly different from other babies, take mental notes about how and when he’s different and bring that to your pediatrician’s attention. There’s a very good chance that your relationship will organically develop into a connection you feel happier with as your baby grows and begins to realize that you and he are separate people and as he learns how to better communicate his needs to you. But if this doesn’t happen, or if it takes longer than seems normal to you, please take heart that it’s not a reflection of YOU or what kind of mother you are, that there’s so much help available to you and your family should you need it (even to determine whether there’s a neurological explanation for your son’s behavior, which remember is still in the range of normal right now!), and that nearly everything in the development of a child – and, subsequently in our journey as parents – is temporary (the good and the bad). This, too, will pass. And if it doesn’t in a way or at a pace that brings you some comfort, you can get help. And the help will help. I promise.

(Also, please talk to your doctor about PPD. I talked to mine early on, when I was experiencing what you’re describing. I did not have PPD, but it was very helpful to know my doctor was aware of my feelings and keeping an eye on me. You’re not in this alone!)

***************

Follow along on Facebook, and Instagram.

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

47 comments… add one
  • Skyblossom

    Skyblossom August 2, 2019, 8:55 am

    LW1 I’m guessing you didn’t trust him before this happened. You’ve been watching for proof that he isn’t trustworthy and then saw these messages and then went ballistic. Why didn’t you trust him? Has he had affairs or are you always afraid that you can’t trust a partner? You must have serious doubts about your relationship if this made you go ballistic. Why do you think it means he wants to cheat or get back together with her? That’s where you will find your underlying problem.

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    Betty August 2, 2019, 9:01 am

    LW1: It’s normal to be social media friends with exes and in most cases it shows maturity: no lasting grudges or anger. The fact that you are upset is indicative of a much bigger problem.
    LW2: Please, please, please talk to your doctor about post partum depression. This feeling that your child would be better with a different mom is so characteristic, and that CAN affect your relationship with a child. Taking anti-depressants to help with the hormonal changes was the best thing I could have done for my daughter. Also, find a free mom’s group (local grocery stores frequently have meetings or postings). It will help to see other moms who are as tired as you!

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    FYI August 2, 2019, 9:06 am

    When someone says, “So-and-so disrespected me,” I always see it as off. Secure, grounded people just don’t talk that way.

    Secure people have innate self-respect, so others’ behavior isn’t so earth-shattering. (In fact, the line almost always is said with extreme language — “completely disrespected.”) It just strikes me as so fragile. Like, other people don’t OWE you shit. Why are you looking to them for respect?

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    • Kate B.

      Kate B. August 2, 2019, 10:30 am

      I so love this. Thank you.

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        ktfran August 2, 2019, 10:40 am

        Me too. I always roll my eyes a bit when people talk about being disrespected.

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    csp August 2, 2019, 9:22 am

    LW2: This is very common. Normally because mom is around all day, the novelty of dad brings joy to the baby. You will deal with this a lot. My son is 3 and last night, he woke up and wouldn’t go back in his bed. I walked toward him with my stern mom face and he ran to his dad and said “Daddy puts me to bed!” he sobbed and pushed me away. then he called me “Mean Mommy”.

    Get some friends that can go through this with you and who can be vulnerable and honest. I was in one group that people were super braggy and their children were geniuses. But I got a good group of friends where everyone could be vulnerable and talk to each other. It is so important to be social so that you aren’t too isolated with your baby.

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    anonymousse August 2, 2019, 9:39 am

    LW1: Wow, is something else going on? Because it’s really, really hard to see how accepting a friend request from an ex from a lifetime ago is such a betrayal. I’m actually hoping there’s something that explains this reaction, like a long history of cheating or something because if that’s not the case, you need to get some serious help. You have a family, four grown children. Don’t blow up your entire life for something stupid on social media. I have friends of friends whom I’ve never even met friend me and we’re friends on Facebook. Facebook is nothing. Get a grip.

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    Donna August 2, 2019, 9:56 am

    The fact that LW#1 says there have been issues over the span of 20 years involving the subject of this ex, indicates that there are unresolved issues regarding this person, at least as far as LW#1 is concerned. Misguided or not, it’s more reasonable to understand ‘why’ LW#1 has gone ballistic, if she was already sensitive to the subject of the ex. There are more details to this story which I think would make this overblown situation more understandable.

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      anonymousse August 2, 2019, 12:09 pm

      Don’t you think she would have included those?

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        RedBlue August 2, 2019, 1:05 pm

        Unless this is her own history of insecurity.

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        Donna August 2, 2019, 3:20 pm

        Definitely not necessarily. There have been quite a few LW’s who have come back with additional information which totally changed the picture of their original situation.

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      Ange August 3, 2019, 12:37 am

      I can only see it as being because the sisters are friends with her as well. LW1 seems to take a Voldemort style ‘she who shall not be named’ approach to the whole thing, no wonder she’s always losing her nana.

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    Kali August 2, 2019, 10:21 am

    LW1: while I don’t agree that it’s necessarily ‘normal’ to be FB friend with your exes (I’d sooner poke my eye out that ‘friend’ my ex-husband) but the real problem here is your lack of trust and your spouse’s lack of honesty. He also doesn’t seem to care much about your feelings. You say and I sense there are other issues in your marriage. You two need to deal with these problems pronto! It’s been my experience that a mate who lies to you is unplugged from the relationship. You may be unconsciously fighting to keep him but going ballistic about FB probably won’t work. And if you don’t trust him and he doesn’t give a rats ass about your feelings, who wants him?

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    • Guy Friday

      Guy Friday August 2, 2019, 11:15 am

      I don’t know that I agree that “he doesn’t give a rats ass about [her] feelings.” If my wife went “ballistic” (and that’s her words, not anyone else’s) at a FRIEND REQUEST, I might avoid the irrational outburst by not mentioning that either and trying to downplay it when she confronted me. The dramatic overreaction kind of negates his actions a fair amount, don’t you think?

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      • CurlyQue

        CurlyQue August 2, 2019, 1:06 pm

        No that’s gas lighting. “I didn’t tell you so and so happened because i KNEW you’d go crazy.”

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        ktfran August 2, 2019, 1:33 pm

        I don’t think so. If I was dealing with a volatile personality (and going ballistic is volatile), I’d try to minimize or mitigate that reaction.

        She said she’s upset/they had arguments that his sisters are friend’s, or FB friend’s, with his ex. Why should that cause problems? She also demanded that her husband unfriend her. I would never demand my husband to do anything. I’d ask and we’d talk about it and come to an agreement.

        Honestly, if I were the husband, I’d be afraid of my wife and her over the top reactions. Maybe she should follow through with her threat… and she did threaten him… and leave.

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      • CurlyQue

        CurlyQue August 2, 2019, 2:43 pm

        They’ve had problems throughout their 30 year marriage over this ex why would he then friend her on fb? Especially if he assumed (correctly) it would upset his wife?

        I don’t think an ex from 30 years ago should be causing this amount of conflict. I think Wendy’s correct that there are much bigger things at play. I just want to point out that this couple had a history of issues regarding this person and husband went out and friended her anyways. why?

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        ron August 2, 2019, 6:47 pm

        Why do people go to class reunions and family reunions to re-meet and converse with people they haven’t seen in decades? It’s a way of looking back on a phase of your life you left behind decades ago. It doesn’t at all mean you want to get sexy with people who passed through your life decades ago, but their is a curiosity about how their lives turned out and where they diverges when the two of you were friends/classmates/romantically involved. Frankly, it is also a chance to see if your memories of the pass are congruent with those who shared the same past. Ancient memories can trick us. It’s hard to recognize fully and honestly who we are today, let alone the person we once were, how our past shaped us, and how we got from point A to point B.

        LW’s jealousy is silly. Neither her husband nor his ex is remotely the same person they were 30 years ago and… those different persons of 30 years ago broke up for a reason and he married her and has stayed with her for 30 years. She might as well be jealous of the little girl he played with PlayDoh with in Kindergarten. It’s beyond silly.

        Why should he totally walk away from his past because LW is insanely jealous? A harmless follow on FB? LW sounds extremely controlling. One need not accept being unduly and unreasonably controlled. It’s not a mature or adult relationship to have to do so. Yes, if it is something he can happily do and she asks nicely. Going ballistic over this. That’s crap and she provides no reason to regard it as other insanely jealous crap.

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        anonymousse August 2, 2019, 8:49 pm

        It is really common for people to tiptoe around emotionally abusive people.

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      • Guy Friday

        Guy Friday August 4, 2019, 1:02 am

        Curly, I’m late to respond, but let’s make sure we’re using the term correctly. “To gaslight” is to manipulate another person by psychological means into questioning their own memory/perception/sanity. It comes from the 1938 play “Gaslight” by Patrick Hamilton (as well as the two movies that were adapted from it) in which a husband convinces his wife that she’s imagining the gas lights being dimmed while he diverts power to search the apartment above them for the jewels of the woman he murdered.

        So, if he were gaslighting her, he’d be telling her she’s imagining him friending her. He’s not denying it; he’s just not discussing it with her because she’s going off the deep end over it. Still potentially a problem? Sure, but not remotely close to the same thing.

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        fyodor August 4, 2019, 3:06 pm

        GF gaslighting everyone about the meaning of gaslighting.

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        Fyodor August 4, 2019, 3:12 pm

        All joking aside, I think that “gaslighting” is sometimes used colloquially to refer to deligitimzing a person’s reasonable emotional response or justified suspicions as “crazy.” The problem is that her responses *are* crazy and her suspicions are unjustified. The gaslights are at full brightness.

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    • Kate B.

      Kate B. August 2, 2019, 1:29 pm

      I agree with GF. I don’t think it’s gaslighting. Gaslighting is more when you minimize someone’s reaction to deflect and manipulate. In this case, I think the husband was trying to avoid this exact reaction. Frankly, I would have done the same. I agree there are deeper problems here that bed to be looked at.

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      • Kate B.

        Kate B. August 2, 2019, 1:31 pm

        *need* to be looked at

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    Allornone August 2, 2019, 10:30 am

    LW1- Wow. I really hope there are deeper issues here. 30 years ago? Why has a relationship he had 30 years ago been a continuing source of conflict? You’ve been married for decades, have adult children; you’ve built a LIFE together. How does that not erase lingering jealousy? I mean, I’m pretty insecure myself, and i admit to being jealous of my guy’s ex for about a year into the relationship. But as our relationship progressed, I became more confident in it and got the eff over that jealousy. Is he friends with her on social media? I have no idea. Do you why? I couldn’t care less. It doesn’t affect our relationship one bit. Do you know what I do know? I’m Facebook friends with my ex. My current guy despises that man (for justified reasons beyond jealously), but does he care? Nope. Because he knows I love him and am completely devoted. Take a breath, step back and go seek therapy. There has to be something else going on.

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  • avatar

    ron August 2, 2019, 12:26 pm

    LW#1 — insane jealousy is not a good look.

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    SpaceySteph August 2, 2019, 1:27 pm

    LW2, I’m sorry you’re going through this. Being a new mom is really tough and a lot of it is still hormones and sleep deprivation playing tricks on your mind. Is there someone you can talk to– a counselor or therapist? Can you carve some time out for yourself, maybe one night a week you go to yoga or take a book to a coffee shop (or, hell, park your car around the corner and take a nap!) and dad takes care of the kid? That space will probably help you a lot with perspective.

    Also, I have been in the opposite position where I am my daughter’s favorite and she screamed her head off as a baby whenever I tried to pass her to dad and honestly, that shit is exhausting and terrible too. I needed some space! Really it doesn’t matter whether your kid loves you or hates you, parenting is hard. So give yourself grace and as much break time and sleep as you can muster. It will get better.

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      anonymousse August 2, 2019, 8:51 pm

      So true about the baby freaking out about being passed off.

      I have been there. No matter the circumstances, even in the best of- parenthood is hard.

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  • avatar

    Tiara August 2, 2019, 4:32 pm

    LW1 I’m going to give you different advice from everyone here because I do agree with you that its not normal or okay that he sent a FR to an ex, especially since it sounds like this is an ex you guys have been fighting about for a long time. To me it sounds like he is possibly feeling out his options, seeing if he has a shot with her. I wouldn’t trust my boyfriend if he were to do something like that so I don’t blame you for not trusting your husband. It sounds like youve had trust issues for awhile when it comes to him, so why stay? Without trust there is no relationship imo. I think you either need to go into couples counselling together (if your adament on saving the relationship) so you can address these issues or just MOA, life is too short to waste on someone you have to constantly worry is going to betray you.

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    • avatar

      ron August 3, 2019, 11:08 am

      Tiara —
      I think there is an obvious reason why they’ve fought about this ex for years. LW mentions it in her post: she not only wants her husband to have zero contact with her, which he apparently has complied with prior to sending the friend request, she also insists that his family have nothing to do with this ex. No possible way LW can hope to control that – – she became a close friend to the family while she was with LW’s gf and there really is no good reason for husbands sisters to drop the ex as a friend. This particular concern just shouts how insanely jealous and insecure LW is.

      There is no reason to justify LW’s rage based upon imagined past offenses by her husband. If these offenses actually existed, she would have recounted them at length. This is just the typical expectation that new bf’s or spouse’s entire family must totally spurn all of his exes. Very controlling and a sign of extreme insecurity. Unlike some LWs who have complained about exes being invited to husband’s family’s events, this LW doesn’t even need to contend with that.

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        Tiara August 5, 2019, 4:41 pm

        I don’t know. I guess I just find it hard to believe that her only problem with his ex before this was that his sisters stayed friends with her. If LW1 is really at that level than yes I do think shes in the wrong there. However I do still find it suspiscious that he went out of his way to add this girl pn FB knowing how his wife feels about her.

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        anonymousse August 5, 2019, 7:21 pm

        She’s an ex of thirty years or more. Come on.

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        ron August 5, 2019, 8:35 pm

        Tiara — do you really see this LW as one who wouldn’t have mentioned if her husband cheated during 30 years of marriage? I’m sure she would have. She does specifically mention her concern with his sisters remaining friends with this ex, so I think it reasonable to assume that this was the source of the fights over the years. She seems incredibly controlling.

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    Sarah August 2, 2019, 11:08 pm

    Say what you will about it being normal and stemming for curiosity whatever, how many affairs began by someone sending a simple friend request to an ex to see how they were doing? Sketchy and the fact he is hiding it.

    LW would benefit from therapy but I see the friend request as opening pandora’s Box.

    The diff with a class reunion is it’s a one time thing with a large group of people. Creeping and messaging on social media is more intimate.

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      Ange August 3, 2019, 12:39 am

      She asked about his mum, get the creeping pitchforks together 🙄

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      Fyodor August 3, 2019, 8:51 am

      Every affair started with talking to another person. He’d better never talk to anyone else.

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        Sarh August 6, 2019, 5:58 am

        You’re missing the point. It’s not ANYONE. its an ex that is a source of contention in his relationship.

        I agree with the previous poster who said it sounds like he is feeling things out.

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        anonymousse August 6, 2019, 8:10 am

        No, I’m betting any ex would be a source of contention for this woman. It’s been over thirty years. It’s laughable.

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      anonymousse August 3, 2019, 9:21 am

      LOL

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    Love Shifu August 3, 2019, 6:00 am

    Children lie and try to hide something if they know their parents will get angry. May be your husband was expecting this kind of reaction from you which is why he must have hid the fact from you. Though I’m not trying to take your husband’s side, trust comes when both of you will be able to understand each other better. If your husband is telling you that he has no feelings for her, give him a chance. Having no feelings and being friendly are entirely different. Talk to him about him and get to know his perspective, but with patience and not anger. I hope everything gets resolved between the both of you soon.

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  • avatar

    EARL STELL August 3, 2019, 12:12 pm

    Ballistic is correct. Social media is corrupting our society and any advice that comes from a person that believes otherwise is bogus. You’all ought to think good and hard about how offensive it is to have x-whatevers play that game with your spouse. Furthermore, only a fool thinks that friending an ex on FB is an innocent act of freedom in a new world. It’s nothing more than an intentional act of selfishness and sows the seeds of marital destruction. Don’t blame Ballistic for her husband’s stupidity.

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      anonymousse August 4, 2019, 6:50 pm

      Wow. I am friends with exes on FB. My husband has some, too. It isn’t sowing the seeds of marital destruction when you’re happily married and love each other.

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        Fyodor August 4, 2019, 7:15 pm

        I am Facebook friends with at least six women that I have previously had sex with. It’s never led me towards unfaithfulness.

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        anonymousse August 4, 2019, 7:32 pm

        How dare you!

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        ktfran August 4, 2019, 7:38 pm

        I don’t even know who my husband interacts with on social media and vice versa. Like, why is that even a thing to check up on your partners social media?

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        Keyblade August 4, 2019, 9:45 pm

        @Fyodor, you were running a harem, I CALLED it years ago!

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  • bittergaymark

    Bittergaymark August 5, 2019, 7:05 am

    That some on here are desperately making up wild backstories to defend the clearly deranged actions of LW1 is truly depressing. There is is no excuse for being a batshit crazy controlling psycho. None. End of story. Though I do suspect her husband does often regret marrying her. How can he not.
    .
    LW2. Wendy and many others here have good advice. Listen to them. Hear them.

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