Facebook Friends
March 17, 2009 9:27 AM   Subscribe

I have a Facebook issue and need advice...this may be coming up more and more, but this is a new issue for me. I have a new girlfriend, but the the old one and I are now "friends" and they each kinda know the other exists, but don't know each other personally. I am about to go on a leftover diving trip with the ex as "friends", but have decided to keep everybody in the dark. So here is the issue...both of them have friended me on Facebook and the question is how/when/should I accept either/both? Thanks in advance Metafilter.
posted by mbigouben to Human Relations (37 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
I think your bigger problem is why you're trying to keep anyone in the dark; if you're just friends, what's the big deal?

Friend them both now, and be done with it.
posted by runningwithscissors at 9:30 AM on March 17, 2009 [16 favorites]

Wait a second. Is this a question about Facebook friending procedures, or is this a question about how to avoid telling your new girlfriend that you're going on a trip with your ex? Maybe this is beside the point of your question, but I feel obligated to note that, generally, deciding to "keep everybody in the dark" about this sort of thing has the potential not to end well. YMMV.
posted by teamparka at 9:31 AM on March 17, 2009

Honesty is your best option. Don't keep it in the dark. Make sure everyone knows what's going on now because this stinks of something that's going to come back and seriously bite you in the ass afterward.
posted by jerseygirl at 9:32 AM on March 17, 2009

Not telling the current girlfriend about your upcoming trip with your ex can only come back to bite you in the ass. Nothing happy will come about from this.

As far as Facebook, that's actually the lesser issue, but anyway friend them both. Now.
posted by anansi at 9:32 AM on March 17, 2009 [2 favorites]

What does this line mean? I am about to go on a leftover diving trip with the ex as "friends", but have decided to keep everybody in the dark. Who's everybody? Everybody including the new girlfriend?
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 9:33 AM on March 17, 2009 [1 favorite]

I understand your position--sunk cost in the trip, still friends with the ex etc.--but I think this will end in disaster UNLESS you are honest about it with the new GF. This is not a Facebook issue, this is a trust issue in a new relationship. Keeping everyone in the dark is only a short-term solution, and a poor one at that; odds are, new GF will find out eventually and drop you like weight belt.
posted by Admiral Haddock at 9:34 AM on March 17, 2009 [1 favorite]

'As "friends"' sounds like you're going to sleep with her. Unless you're just using quotation marks incorrectly.

I don't even understand why being friends with them both on Facebook would be a problem, even if you were going to keep this a secret, which is dumb in the first place. If I were your new girlfriend, though, I would think it was weird if you didn't approve my friend request.
posted by Airhen at 9:37 AM on March 17, 2009 [1 favorite]

As long as you're honest with both of them about everything it shouldn't be an issue - add them both at the same time and as long as both know about each other, about the trip, and that there's nothing fishy going on with you and the ex . If either one of them is jealous enough to make this an issue of it then they're probably not worth all the drama. Unless of course, you're not being 100% honest with them, in which case they have every right to not trust you and be jealous. So stop keeping people in the dark about the trip.

*shrug* I add everyone because I have nothing to hide from people. If new-boy has an issue with me still being friends with an ex, then he's going to have to get over it. I won't tip-toe around his feelings. If an ex is jealous about new-boy, then he can choose not to look at my profile if it bugs him.

If you wait longer to friend either of them it'll also look suspicious.
posted by KateHasQuestions at 9:38 AM on March 17, 2009

This isn't a facebook issue, this is a lying issue.
posted by Benjy at 9:39 AM on March 17, 2009 [23 favorites]

There is no rule that you have to put everything on Facebook. You can simply stop using it for the next six months.

Also, you should not lie to your new girlfriend. And a lie of omission is still a lie.
posted by GuyZero at 9:40 AM on March 17, 2009

Honesty, openness, glasnost. My current squeeze is on good terms with her most recent ex, as I am with mine. I would not be ticked off to have the girl and her ex do stuff together and am open with her about when I see my own ex. I would be unhappy to find the girl was concealing something like this; and I like to think I would never do such a thing, myself.
posted by ricochet biscuit at 9:41 AM on March 17, 2009

This isn't a facebook issue, this is a lying issue.
posted by Optimus Chyme at 9:59 AM on March 17, 2009

(Only answering the Facebook thing, but everyone above is right - you are going down a bad road)

I think its terrible to be facebook friends with new relationships. Just tell her you don't want to jinx anything for a while.
posted by RajahKing at 10:00 AM on March 17, 2009 [2 favorites]

I am not crazy about my boyfriend's ex. I once insinuated that I would chop her up and bury her in the desert if she continued trying to get with him behind my back (in my totally inexcusable defense, I am a very nice girl who has the ability to become a very surly drunk, and I still feel pretty shitty about this).

They're Facebook Friends, and I couldn't care less. It would be some junior high ass shit if I did. You get to look at his profile and write on his wall? I GET TO SNUGGLE AND KISS AND FUCK HIM AS MUCH AS I WANT.

Does this mean your new girly is not going to mind, however? Who knows. Maybe she's the kind who'll block her profile so she can pretend she doesn't exist. Maybe she's the type to obsessively spy on her and keep tabs and get all insecure. Who knows.

Keeping "everyone in the dark" about the nature of your relationships, however, is mad inexcusable. Your ex is going on a trip with you, and doesn't know that you're dating someone else? Someone's going to end up chopped up and buried in the desert my friend, and it might be you.

I can understand wanting to keep new girl in the dark (it might hurt her for no reason if nothing's really going to happen), but if she finds out eventually....

I would come clean, mon frère, and make sure new girl knows you're with her because she's the only girl who matters to you in the whole world. There might be other girls, in the world and in your past, sure, but she's the hottest, most wonderful thing in your life, and the rest of the female population might as well be your sister.
posted by Juliet Banana at 10:04 AM on March 17, 2009 [3 favorites]

For the record - YES you should be honest with your new girlfriend. But don't expect her to be ok with your plans. Hours alone in a car with your ex girlfriend? And you don't even feel close enough to the new one to be her Facebook friend? Sounds shady to me, and I'm not even your girlfriend.

My boyfriend's ex is his friend on facebook and it annoys the s*it out of me when she posts on his wall. But it fills me with glee when he doesn't respond to her posts. ;) She knows you have a past. Just accept them both. But for God's sake don't like to the new GF.
posted by keribear at 10:13 AM on March 17, 2009

Here's the biggest potential Facebook problem with not telling the new girlfriend about the trip:

Old Girlfriend Hey, I had a great time diving with you last weekend!
29 minutes ago · Comment · Like

posted by educatedslacker at 10:24 AM on March 17, 2009 [13 favorites]

WTF. I was the new girlfriend in a situation very similar to this. Had the guy I was seeing simply told me about old GF, it really wouldn't have been that much of an issue: a few minutes of awkward conversation, but then trust would have reigned. But instead he opted to keep the 'meet-up with the old GF' deets to himself and, well, it didn't end well. Trust doesn't magically re-sprout after behavior like that. And trust me, at some point new GF will find out you've LIED. Omitting info of this nature is LYING.

You're being very selfish and inconsiderate here. If old GF is indeed just a friend, sack up and tell new GF the story so as to preemptively defuse the situation. If old GF has the potential to reignite, again, I suggest you sack up and tell new GF that, too, so she's not thinkin' things are all fine and breezy betwixt you two, 'cause they sure ain't if something's still unfinished with old GF. Should you choose to do neither, you're lying. And that's a really, really, really fucking bad way to conduct a relationship, both with former and present girlfriends.

And the fact you're worried about this in the context of facebook just reeks of immaturity and deceit. What are you hiding and why? It's almost impressive how much work you're doing to prevent either from knowing about each other; that speaks volumes.

Additionally, you're basically asking Meta how to deceive people who care about you. Think about that for a minute, please. Just the fact you're asking this question would pretty much be the end for me, were I involved. Would you like to be treated in that fashion?
posted by December at 10:36 AM on March 17, 2009

Tell your girlfriend you're going diving with a friend, then accept both friendships. You never would have had to ask this question if you had been honest with your brand new girlfriend from the start. Not a good way to start a relationship.
posted by alligatorman at 10:36 AM on March 17, 2009

1) You really, really should not be keeping your current girlfriend in the dark about this trip.
If it's just as friends, there should be no reason to keep it secret. She wouldn't be completely out of line to feel weird about you going on a trip with your ex, especially if it's a recent ex, but if you don't tell her and she finds out later, she's going to be a hell of a lot more concerned. Secrets are a terrible way to start a new relationship.

2) It will seem totally weird if you don't add your girlfriend back on Facebook. Even if you broke up, it's not like it matters if you're still Facebook friends afterward. Most people are friends on there with someone they met once, or a classmate they haven't seen since 8th grade. I know if I was dating a guy (especially if it was serious enough for him to refer to me as his girlfriend) and he refused to add me back on Facebook, I would assume he had something to hide, because why else wouldn't they add me?

3) From what you're saying, it sounds like the ex doesn't know about the current girlfriend, either. That's not cool, either. The ex needs to know you are seeing someone else now.
posted by fructose at 10:38 AM on March 17, 2009

Would you add your Facebook link to your MeFi profile? I'd love to follow along with the shitstorm that will inevitably come along if you aren't honest with your girl about this.

Tell her the truth. I recommend this even though it removes the fifteen seconds of entertainment value that I would get out of your lying.
posted by sephira at 10:39 AM on March 17, 2009 [6 favorites]

Setting aside the question of whether you should be open, and just looking at the technical question of whether you can friend them and still keep them in the dark, the answer is "probably," if you change some of the default privacy settings. (Settings - Privacy Settings). Set "Photos Tagged of You" "Videos Tagged of You" "Friends" and "Wall Posts" so they are all visible only to you. Then go to Settings - Applications, switch the pull-down menu to "Show: Authorized" and go to edit settings for each application in turn, and make sure that either "prompt me before publishing any stories" or "never publish any stories" is selected for each one. Then you can friend both and still keep them "in the dark."

If you posts pictures of the diving trip yourself on Facebook, you can set the gallery privacy so that only a selected subset of your friends (e.g., those who were actually on the trip) can see the photos.

This isn't 100% guaranteed to be successful. If new gf is, independently of you, friends with one of your old friends, and said old friends posts pictures of you and old gf on Facebook, new gf may see them via the mutual friend. Or if the friend has his pictures visible to everyone (regardless of friend status), which is not the FB default but some people change their settings to allow that, the new gf could see them. Also, Facebook's TOS, which you agreed to when you joined FB, even if you didn't read them closely, allow them to display anything on FB to anyone in the world, regardless of privacy settings. They're highly unlikely to intentionally do so, as that would be very bad publicity for them, but whether they do so accidentally depends on the competency of their programmers. However, all of these risks exist even if you don't friend either of them. (Hence the many "just be honest" responses above.)

I guess what I'm trying to say is, if you want to friend both and still keep new gf "in the dark," appropriate privacy settings increase the chance of your success at this. They don't guarantee sucess at this. Whether the risk is acceptable is up to you to decide.
posted by DevilsAdvocate at 10:53 AM on March 17, 2009

First, have an in person chat with your new girlfriend, calmly (but not defensively) explain that you and your ex had planned a diving trip before you broke up. Since the break up was amicable and the trip already paid for, you are going together as friends. This is a simple issue that any reasonable person would understand.

Then accept both friend requests.

If the new girlfriend freaks out - dump her, she's clearly the crazy jealous type that will start with resenting your relationship with your ex and move on to any other women that you are friends with and have you back here posting a 'how do I deal with my crazy bitch girlfriend' question ;)

The ex needs to know you are seeing someone else now.

Why? Who he dates now (or anything he does for that matter) is none of her business anymore. If they are now just good friend, she should be treated as such and find out about the new girlfriend at the same time as any other friend might.
posted by missmagenta at 10:58 AM on March 17, 2009

Not being straight up now will cost you.
posted by Ironmouth at 11:06 AM on March 17, 2009

So here is the issue...both of them have friended me on Facebook and the question is how/when/should I accept either/both?

That is in no way the issue. If you're old enough to have a girlfriend, you're old enough to understand how lying is bad for a relationship. You can't even omit this one - you'll be asked sometime where you went on [day], your ex might bring it up when your girlfriend is within hearing/seeing vicinity, or you just might slip up with some facts. And there will be a shitstorm on your hands - because normally, people can't so easily brush off the fact that their partner was with an ex, and they weren't informed. We're human, our minds race and jump and panic even in the most rational of situations.

So do the smart thing, and either: come clean about the trip, or don't go if you feel like it will jeopardize your new relationship, and it's important to you.

(Frankly, commitments to a new relationship are far more important to me than leftover promises made to an ex.)
posted by Bakuun at 11:28 AM on March 17, 2009

This is why they say "honesty is the best policy."
posted by jejune at 11:28 AM on March 17, 2009

I think the issue here is that he and the ex-gf are "friends" and they hang out as "friends." This is known as Friends-with-quotation-marks, which usually indicates that they have "sex". If this is not the case then I stand corrected, but I thought that might be what was hinted at here.

Anyway, the answer is do not expect to keep anything secret from your facebook friends...if you go somewhere with one of them, another can find out pretty easily. Don't go down that road: defriend everyone, delete your account, and your myspace page too while you're at it, and then nuke the whole region from orbit. Oh, or just be honest. Your choice.
posted by Potomac Avenue at 11:37 AM on March 17, 2009

I have a new girlfriend...

both of them have friended me on Facebook and the question is how/when/should I accept either/both?

A relationship isn't real unless it is signified as such on facebook. If you truly do have a new girlfriend, then you will need to friend her and label her as such on facebook.

So, since your question isn't well written and it sounds like you want to do some hanky panky with your ex girlfriend (there is no such thing as a leftover trip and keeping everyone in the dark means you want your cake and eat it too), what you should do is friend both, not change your relationship status, and have fun with your ex girlfriend. Then, when the shit finally hits the fan, you can claim that you weren't "exclusive" and act like your facebook status is your defense. Be prepared that your ex and your "new girlfriend" will probably castrate you but hey, diving trips are suppose to be a little dangerous, right?
posted by Stynxno at 12:24 PM on March 17, 2009 [2 favorites]

I think the issue here is that he and the ex-gf are "friends" and they hang out as "friends." This is known as Friends-with-quotation-marks, which usually indicates that they have "sex".

In which case, OP, mefi is going to spank you silly.
posted by Bakuun at 12:44 PM on March 17, 2009

Jeez, bunch of would be therapists here. It's a Facebook question, okay, cuz OP said so.

I think - I'm not sure, but almost sure - that you can keep the gf and the ex in different friend groups, and block either of them to see communications with the other. Put the ex in a group named "Exes". Put the new missus in a group called "Nows". Fiddle with permissions and preferences until the group "exes" can not see anything the group "nows" writes on your wall.

As to how you should fiddle with the permissions and prefs, I don't know. As to how you should organise your other friends (either in the Nows or Exes category), that's up to you. Common sense would dictate that - at least for the time being - you go with the Now. You can always reshuffle them later on (or easier: shuffle the ex to the Now and shuffle the now to the Ex!).

Good luck on the diving trip. And especially afterwards - you'll probably need it.
posted by NekulturnY at 2:03 PM on March 17, 2009

NekulturnY, even that's not flawless, unless the OP and his ex do not have any mutual friends. Those friends might see something your ex has written on your wall, and respond, prompting questions from your current girlfriend. Or they might not see something she tells them she wrote when they're talking outside of facebook. And then how do you explain that convoluted little scenario. Seriously, managing people groups like this when you're keeping secrets is incredibly stupid for the sheer effort it takes and the peace of mind you don't get.

Is it worth having all this blow up because you want a little something-something outside your girlfriend? Really?

You can't control what other people do or don't find out when these are people who hang out with you, or talk to you or each other, on a regular basis. You can't do it. You can't even be absolutely sure your ex won't lash out and tell your girlfriend everything herself, even if you both swear absolute secrecy to each other and no one knows you're going anywhere for a day and you don't run into anyone you know.
posted by Bakuun at 3:09 PM on March 17, 2009

Even with perfect Facebook separation, there was drama before there was Facebook. Please don't make this out to be a technical problem.
posted by GuyZero at 3:16 PM on March 17, 2009

There is very rarely a consensus on AskMe. Almost never. If MeFites can't agree on what flavor pancakes they like, but CAN agree that you need to tell your girlfriend what's going on, you'd best get on that.

This smacks of trying to have your cake and eat it too. You can't be "friends" with your ex without telling your girlfriend. The only reason FB even enters into this equation is that it means you'll be caught sooner, rather than in the olden days where it took months and a strange set of coincidences involving phone calls and not being at that place where you said you would be for the girlfriend to get wise.

Friend them both. Tell them both what's going on. Accept whatever reactions come your way as the cost of doing business. Be honest. Don't encourage any MORE drama.
posted by grapefruitmoon at 3:23 PM on March 17, 2009 [1 favorite]

Issue at hand, as the OP states, is that he doesn't necessarily want everyone in the world to have access to all the information available through Facebook. I have several different friend lists - family, friends, co-workers, etc. Some groups are more limited than others. Friends and family can see just about everything, co-workers only get my basic information.

As an aside, everyone above is correct - you really need to be honest with you GF and your ex. This is going to come back and bite you in the ass big time. Even if you have the best of intentions and don't plan on doing anything wrong with your ex, your current GF is going to find out and the secrecy is going to imply guilt of something malicious. Trust me, she WILL find out. Women have a way of finding out. They always do. It's a sixth sense.
posted by ASM at 4:04 PM on March 17, 2009

I was here. Please post your follow up after the trip.

Just remember you can't have "sex" without an "ex."

Nah, I'm kidding. Of course you need to come clean with everyone. I don't know what this "Facebook" thing is, but it seems to create all kinds of trouble for people.
posted by Slarty Bartfast at 8:24 PM on March 17, 2009

Well, I agree that OP is in for a world of pain if/when Now discovers he's on a diving trip with Ex, but if he asks a Facebook question, I do think he deserves a facebook answer. We're not on AskMe to lead other's people's lives, are we? Or, wait, don't answer that!
posted by NekulturnY at 12:48 AM on March 18, 2009

Read up on how privacy settings work on facebook, partition up your friends into groups you want to give certain access to, and then add friends to appropriate groups.

Mind you, this seems like a stupid idea.

The real solution is to stop using stupid ass Facebook. That, or stop with the lying.
posted by chunking express at 7:37 AM on March 18, 2009

Just tell them both the truth about the trip, and accept both their friend requests. Not even because it's the right thing to do, but because it's just plain easier.
posted by lampoil at 11:19 AM on March 18, 2009

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