I have a wonderful marriage with my husband who I met after college. I have always been very open and honest with him and we really have no secrets between us. Yet recently, I started reconnecting with a lot of friends through a social networking site. At first it was great and exciting to see all of their pictures and find out what is happening with their lives. But the other day my ex-boyfriend tried to “friend” me, and my heart stopped. On the one hand, I so badly want to see if he is married, if he has kids, what he looks like, etc. On the other hand, I am nervous to know and not sure I really want to. But the worst part is that I immediately deleted the email from him, as I was worried my husband would see it and get upset. I feel like if I do accept his friend request, I will have to hide it from my husband. A part of me keeps saying that this is ridiculous and no big deal and there is no reason why I shouldn’t accept, the other part worries that I don’t want to have a secret that I keep from my husband. Am I overreacting?
Technology has provided us with tremendous opportunities to reconnect and find long lost friends who otherwise we may never have been able to be in touch with again. Simultaneously, it has allowed people who we really never need to be in contact with again, to contact us! It sounds like you really do know the answer to your question, but that your curiosity is getting the best of you.
Sure, it is fun to look at pictures of people and see how they have changed. And that might be innocent, as long as it is not with someone who you had feelings for and a relationship with. You wrote yourself that seeing his name made your heart stop. Clearly this is someone who you were emotionally connected to, and yet, is someone who has not been a part of your life for many years.
You are happily married to a man you trust and who trusts you. If you cannot discuss this with him, it is because you know deep down that it is inappropriate. Either you have no feelings whatsoever for your ex, in which case, why should you care what he looks like or what he is doing? Or he is someone that you might have latent feelings for, and by seeing him again, even on the Internet, those feelings could come back to life and to the forefront of your mind.
In Hebrew, the word for a transgression is aveirah. The root of this word is avar which means “the past.” Why is the past connected to a transgression? Because we are to live in the present. We are to live in the here and now while we focus on our future. It is one thing to delve into our past to rectify something or learn a lesson from it, but just to focus on our past if it doesn’t help our present, but rather makes us go backwards, is not healthy and is potentially dangerous.
I imagine that you would not want your husband thinking about his ex-girlfriend or looking at pictures of her. Allow your past to remain in your past. There is no need to bring this ex into your present. And if you are concerned about hurting his feelings or that he will think it was rude that you didn’t respond…it could happen. But it is much better that you annoy someone who is not part of your life than hurt your husband, who loves you, respects you and trusts you. Your husband needs to come first, and if he is going to be upset (and rightly so) then there is no question that you should not pursue anything in this direction. And even if he has no problem with it, be honest with yourself and your own emotions. Yes, we might want to feed our wonder as to how someone is doing now, but just hope that like you, he is happy and healthy with a wonderful wife and family, and leave it at that.
So bottom line, ignore his request to be your friend. He is not your friend, he is your ex-boyfriend. And should remain in your past.
“Dear Rachel” is a bi-weekly column that is answered by a rotating group of experts. This question was answered by Sara Esther Crispe.Sara Esther Crispe, a writer, inspirational speaker and mother of four, is the Co-Director of Interinclusion, a non-profit multi-layered educational initiative celebrating the convergence between contemporary arts and sciences and timeless Jewish wisdom. Prior to that she was the editor of TheJewishWoman.org and wrote the popular weekly blog, Musing for Meaning. To book Sara Esther for a speaking engagement, please click here.More from Dear Rachel | RSS