Honest Living: Tricky Facebook Acquaintances
Our Mutual Friend
I am friends with my boyfriend’s ex-wife on Facebook. I know what you’re thinking…it’s true that I strongly dislike this medium and often tout its many evils. But I have found Facebook to be an essential tool for marketing my business, and, along the way, I’ve collected a few friends (I’m one of those pathetic users who has about 100 Facebook friends rather than the customary 1,000). Lo and behold, his former spouse is one of them. This is an odd situation with which, I must admit, I’m not entirely comfortable.
For me, Facebook is like a window into somebody else's house. You can’t actually see the events unfold, but you get a pretty clear picture of that person’s daily activities. She (we’ll call her Tina) is a particularly avid Facebook user because it helps her stay connected with the three children she and my boyfriend had during their marriage. Because of this connection, I am privy to conversations I feel I shouldn't be. But, in the way a train wreck grips our attention, I want to turn my head and simply cannot.
So, I see the comments Tina shares with their children and her friends, as well as her personal pictures and postings. One morning, for example, I learned that she ate a biscuit with melted butter and cheese for breakfast. Not only do I feel strange knowing this information, but I also feel wrong; I’m like an intruder. And, although you might say that every single person on Facebook is nothing more than an intruder on every other person’s life, this situation is different.
She was married to, and bore the children of, my boyfriend.
The Other Woman
Why, then, did I choose to be her Facebook friend in the first place? I’ll try to explain. She and my boyfriend are still close; they contact each other on the holidays and comment on each other’s Facebook pages. This is another odd situation that deserves a blog of its own, so I won’t go into much more detail here. But, as a new part of his life, it was inevitable that I become a (very small) part of Tina’s life as well. The three of us have had drinks and dinner together before, which also was quite uncomfortable, but everybody tries hard for the sake of the children, and the truth is that Tina’s a very likable person.
However, again in speaking the truth, I’m not sure that two people who were married for more than 20 years can be friends after divorce. In my mind, it’s an all or nothing deal. You’re either lovers or nothing after a marriage. And from a personal perspective, I can’t imagine being friends with my ex-husband. I don’t care what he’s doing, and I’m getting too old to stay involved with his nonsense. We’ve parted ways, and that’s that.
Tina and my boyfriend, however, are distinctly different. And she must have thought I'm okay with that because she sent me a friend request on Facebook that I accepted. What choice did I have? To ignore it would have been unnecessarily rude, and to deny it would have been petty and troublesome. So, we’re friends, at least on the Internet, and I know the activities of her life more intimately than I would have wished.
Of course, I would never voice my true feelings to her, but I did relay my feelings to my boyfriend. This was hard to do because I feared I would sound childish, but I did it anyway. “I’m friends with Tina,” I told him, “but it’s weird. I’m not going to do anything that would rock the boat, and deep down I’m fine. But seeing her exchanges with the kids and reading about her life makes me uncomfortable.”
He nodded and agreed. So at least we’re clear on that. Now I just have to learn to avert my eyes whenever I see that Tina’s made a new post.