Suburban Turmoil - The ex factor

Sep 24, 2008 at 2:09 am

“What ever happened to Tom Wilson?” I asked my friend Helen the other day. “I never see him anymore.”

“Oooh,” Helen said, her voice delightedly lowering to a conspiratorial tone, “You know he used to be friends with Margaret when they were teenagers, right?” 


“Well, Margaret finally admitted to her husband that she slept with Tom one night in high school, after they’d both had a few too many. They never got together again, but once she told her husband, he said he wanted nothing more to do with Tom again, ever.

“But they’ve all known each other for years,” I said, stunned. “Tom and his wife are at Margaret’s house all the time.” 

“Not anymore,” Helen said, smirking. 

I shook my head. If you ask me, staying friends with a former flame is bad business once you’ve gotten hitched. Someone’s bound to get burned.

That’s why my husband and I agreed when we married to snuff out ties to anyone with whom we once had a romantic involvement. When I got engaged, I included my exes in the obligatory mass e-mail with the news, they responded with their congratulations, and that was the end of that. None of them have written or called since, although I’m thinking that my description of my husband-to-be as “three coats of paint away from a thug” (his words) may have had something to do with it.

Hubs swears none of his exes have been in touch, either, besides an old high school girlfriend who sent a picture of herself standing amid her four teenage kids. When he showed me the photo, I noted that the upper rim of her Hanes Her Way undies was poking out of the waistline of her jeans, and wondered aloud whether it was some kind of hook-up signal.

“You’re crazy!” Hubs blustered.

“I know women,” I replied grimly. “And this one is all but begging you to knock boots!” 

Suffice it to say Hubs didn’t write back.

Those who think they’re enlightened like to tell me that the decision to seal our Ex Files means Hubs and I don’t trust each other. I say it means we’re smart. If you don’t believe me, consider the case of my friend Maria, whose husband insists on keeping in touch with an ex-girlfriend he dated more than two decades ago. Maria has asked him repeatedly to give that bimbo the heave-ho, but he’s refused, saying they dated so long ago that she now qualifies as an old friend.

“I don’t feel like he would leave me for her or anything, I just want him to STOP talking to her,” she vented recently. “I want him to STOP texting her, and I want him to STOP calling her!”

And I’m betting situations like Maria’s will only become more common, particularly now that Facebook has come along.

Facebook (for that one dude who lives deep in the woods and receives his LEOs in an air drop once a month) is a social networking site. At first, it was the exclusive domain of teens and twentysomethings. Now, though, everyone is on Facebook. And I do mean everyone. 

Since opening my account two years ago, Facebook has reacquainted me with practically my entire high school class. My college professors. My church youth group. My fourth-grade friends. And yes, my exes.

For the first time in my marriage, the ex agreement got a little awkward. I didn’t want to be rude by not responding to their friend requests. Still, I had made a deal, and I decided to live up to it. Ex-boyfriends were out, even on Facebook.

This is where most of my girlfriends say I’ve gone overboard. Nearly everyone I know is Facebook friends with an ex or two, including Melissa, whose husband has no idea she and her old college boyfriend have used the site to (quite innocently) reconnect.

It does seem harmless enough, at least until I think of how I’d feel if I saw an ex-girlfriend on my husband’s Facebook page. Let’s just say there’d be hell to pay, much like there was when my friend Sadie found out her husband was Facebook friends with his exes. It took her months to calm down.

I still maintain that becoming Facebook friends with an ex cracks open a door that’s better left locked.

“Not that I’m worried about you cheating on me,” I assured Hubs when we discussed all this the other day. “I mean, people who cheat are going to cheat, no matter what kinds of restrictions are put on them. If you really want to get busy with some hussy, I can’t exactly stop you.”

I can, however, make it as difficult as possible.