As The Social Network showed us, Facebook breeds drama. This is particularly true with relationships. We regularly get questions along the lines of "My guy is Facebook friends with his ex. Does that mean he'll cheat on me?" Not necessarily, fake person I just created. But that doesn't mean it can't lead to drama, break-ups, and sadness. Every day, a new study comes out blaming Facebook for the growing divorce rate. (Frankly, most of those people were probably headed for divorce anyway, but if putting "Facebook" and "divorce" in your headline gets you clicks, I ain't gonna judge.)
So as you're pruning your friends list in the new year, consider these reasons for defriended your ex. And come back next week when we'll look at the five reasons why you SHOULD be friends with your ex (or exes) on Facebook.
It's a constant window into their life
Sure, things might have ended amicably. Maybe you run into each other at a concert and have a nice conversation. But do you really want a constant rundown of their life? You already know their thoughts on True Blood and that new burrito place on Smith St. Do you need to see what parties they're attending, who they're friending, and which Starbucks they've checked into on Foursquare? (And can we stop with announcing the amount of people you're with on Foursquare? If you're in a public place, it's safe to say you're not alone.) The more Facebook features get added, the more overshare-y we all get. It's bad enough seeing the day-to-day minutia of that one coworker whose friend request you approved out of guilt. Do you really need to know every detail about the person who you ostensibly decided not to spend the rest of your life with?
Facebook should offer a feature exclusively for exes which only tells you the basics-- Are they still alive, married, divorced, or currently standing outside of your house? Actually, that's not a terrible idea for an App...
Unless you're actually still friends, it's an empty gesture
Yes, many break-ups are amicable. You might remain friends, coworkers, casual acquaintances, etc. with an ex. So what's wrong with staying casually in touch over the Internet? After all, Facebook is basically a giant repository for your casual acquaintances. ("What's Jill from college doing now? Oh, she's married. Cool. What's for lunch?") But ask yourself this: Would you be comfortable being in the same room as your ex? If the answer is no, why are you virtual friends with this person?
Oh, sure, many of your Facebook friends would probably fail the "Do I want to share an elevator with them?" test. But there's a difference between, say, an old coworker whom you want to stay in touch with and someone who can draw a map of every mole on your body. In the end, is your relationship really nothing more than a headshot in your "friends" list? You still have the memories, good and bad. Why not be content with that?
If you still have feelings, it'll drive you crazy
"Who is this Melissa girl he just friended? OMG she looks like a slut. How could he like her-- Oh, wait. She's his cousin. Who's this Jen girl he friended???"
The person you're currently dating could get jealous
On the one hand, being friends with an ex shows that you're a mature person who can forgive and forget. Or it means you're still keeping some exes in your back pocket. This isn't to say you should defriend an ex just because it makes your current guy (or gal) uncomfortable. But be careful about paying too much attention to an ex on Facebook.
Ultimately, it comes down to the level of contact you're having with your ex. If you're IMing and constantly writing messages behind your guy's back, clearly that's a problem. But even the small things can cause tension in your new relationship. You might think there's nothing wrong with "liking" all of your former flame's hilarious status updates. But think of Facebook as a virtual cocktail party: Would your current boyfriend get jealous if you were laughing at your ex's jokes louder than his? Just make sure you're spreading the "likes" around.
It prevents you from fully moving on
Look, we've all Facebook stalked someone at one point or another, be it a high school crush, or the ex who tore out our heart, stomped on it, and then shot the pieces out of a cannon. (Sometimes, it's a brief glance to confirm to ourselves that it's really over.) But having a constant reminder of that person can be difficult. It's one thing to keep a photo of an ex in a shoebox as a reminder of the good times you both shared. But Facebook is like a shoebox that constantly keeps filling with photos, snarky status updates, FarmVille requests, birthday party invites, SuperPokes, and on and on. How can anyone hope to move on from a Super Poke??