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Facebook makes it easier than ever to "reconnect" with old flames. So just how much reminiscing about past good times is OK online? The 4-Way panel shares their thoughts on a particularly flirty Facebook user.
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Dear 4-Way,
My girlfriend is friends with most of her ex-boyfriends, which I think is great and I completely support. But there’s one ex who constantly flirts with her on Facebook … and she flirts back! Wall posts, comments on pictures, tagging random things that remind them of one another—it’s all there for all of her friends and family (and some of mine) to see. Recently, he posted a picture taken when they were dating and on vacation, and the caption was, “Remember that night?” and her comment was, “I’ll never forget it! J” I think it’s disrespectful to our relationship to flirt in such a public way. I told her this, and she just thinks I’m jealous. She’s right, I am jealous, but I also think she’s being inappropriate. Which one of us is out of line here? —JV, Houston, Texas

The Straight Man’s Perspective: Chris Kennedy
Stop in the name of … not being a sucker. There’s no way you think it’s “great” and “completely support” that your girlfriend is “friends” with most of her ex-boyfriends. We think it makes us look bad and jealous if we don’t support it, so we overcompensate by saying things like “it’s great,” “I completely support that,” and “I love it.”

To me, it sounds like she has some baggage she hasn’t taken the time to get rid of. In this case, she’s having inappropriate interaction with at least one, if not more, of her exes.  She could instead be putting that attention and focus on improving her current relationship and doing what’s best to foster it. Contact with exes is not the best way to do that.  Her flirting is a strong sign that she needs attention—apparently, she needs more attention than one man like you can give. What would she think of your starting a little online dalliance with one of your exes? I doubt she’d be as accommodating as you are with her.  Her behavior clearly shows she can’t handle being “friends” with her exes. Tell her to stop this crap immediately and severely limit any future contact with this guy or any of her other exes … or she’ll have another ex to add to her list.

The Gay Man’s Perspective: Darren Maddox
You’re the one out of line! Why do you think you have the right to judge what anyone else posts? You’re not dating the guy. Furthermore, why would you care if your family can see that they’re flirting with each other? That’s unclear to me.

I like Facebook, and like most of the free world, I spend far too much time on it these days. However, I’ve found myself ready to delete my account recently for reasons exactly like the one you’re bringing up here. For example, I recently posted something on my status merely for the sake of saying I was happy about what was in the news that day. Most of my 612 friends liked it, but I got an unexpected backlash from others, including family members. For days, I was pissed at their comments. Then I was just pissed at myself for falling into the trap of caring what anyone else really thinks about what I was happy about. Five years ago, I never would have had this problem, and neither would you. This brings me to my point: if you believe what she posts or the comments that ensue are out of line, take her off your friends list. Problem solved.

The Straight Woman’s Perspective: Rebecca Brown
Ahhhhh, Facebook. FACEBOOK! I’m shaking my fist at the sky right now out of sheer frustration at the trouble, pain, and insecurity caused by what should be a mindless distraction. It’s made us all feel compelled to share every stupid detail of our lives with others, and I’m including myself in there because, believe it or not, I just posted a picture of the salad I had for lunch. It seemed like a good idea at the time, and, in my defense, it was really pretty …

That said, I’ve said many times that my Facebook profile is not a freakin’ democracy. If my FB friend whom I haven’t spoken to in twenty years doesn’t like the link I shared or my status update, then too bad for him. He can ignore it, take me off his friends list, or be deleted. I don’t go out of my way to offend people; I try to post my thoughts/views in as fair a manner as possible. But I would absolutely go out of my way to not offend or hurt the feelings of my mom, my family, one of my close friends, or my coworkers or boss (hi, Kate). In short, the people I interact with most often.

I’m assuming you’re a person your girlfriend interacts with often, so I think she’s the one out of line here. If they were just benign posts, even if they were slightly flirtatious—“Hey, you look cute in this pic!” or maybe “Go Huskies! Reminds me of our Homecoming date in ’04!”—I’d say you need to suck it up and get over it. But alluding to a romantic night or a steamy, sex-in-the-hot-tub encounter is over the line, and I agree that it’s disrespectful to you and your relationship.  Obviously, you need to talk to her about it and tell her what the court of the 4-Way has to say; but more importantly, tell her that it hurts your feelings to see her so blatantly flirting with someone else where you can witness it. If she smiled at another man while you guys were having a drink in a real-world situation, it might annoy you, but you’d probably let it go because we’re only human; just because we’re dating someone doesn’t mean we’re dead and don’t notice other people. But if she told him how hot he looked and then smiled at him, that wouldn’t be kosher.

A simple solution is to not be Facebook friends with her. But I think her blatant over-the-line flirting is indicative of a bigger problem that she’s insensitive to your feelings so maybe it’s time to update your real-world status and block her from Facebook and the rest of your life.

The Lesbian Woman’s Perspective: Jody Fischer
I hear your jealousy loud and clear. And for the record, I’m not a fan of posting intimate details of your life online. Remember, employers are now checking Facebook profiles before they hire people. My rule is if you’re not comfortable sharing your news with your grandparents, then don’t post it online.

It also seems like you and your girl have different ideas of what it means to be dating. If she truly believes that she can relive her past with such vim and vigor, then perhaps she needs more time with her ex-boyfriend. It doesn’t seem as if she’s closed the loop on the relationship.

Bottom line: you’d like it if she was less public about her past, and she doesn’t want to change. Newsflash: relationships involve compromise, and if she’s not willing to come closer to what you need, this isn’t a match. It’s not even a matter of who’s right, who’s jealous, or who’s appropriate; it’s a matter of taking into consideration the comfort levels of your partner.

Sounds like she and her ex are a better match. Find yourself a girl who is over her ex, in public and in private.

 

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