Podcast: Play in new window
Subscribe: Apple Podcasts | Spotify | RSS
In today’s video, I responded to a viewer who is wondering how to deal with his feeling that his “wife’s past haunts me,” and she’s connecting with her ex on social media.
Read or watch below if you also feel like “my wife’s past haunts me.”
Zachary Stockill: We live in the age of social media. I probably don’t have to tell you that social media can make relationships, sex, and dating very complicated; even more complicated sometimes when one party in the relationship is keeping in touch with their ex on social media.
In today’s video, I want to respond to a viewer who’s tells me “my wife’s past haunts me,” and wants to know how to deal with the fact that his wife is connecting with her exes on social media.
Okay, I received a note from someone we will call P. P writes:
My wife’s past haunts me. Is it possible to overcome retroactive jealousy if your wife keeps reconnecting to her exes on social media?
Thanks for your message, P. My first question, back to you. And I would have many questions for you if we were you know if this was a one-on-one coaching call…
So these are just theories. These are just ideas because I don’t know the specifics of your situation. But with that said, my first question to you would be: why is your wife keeping in touch with her exes on social media? Why is she doing this? Why is she reconnecting with her exes?
I’m not saying it’s a good thing. I’m not saying it’s a bad thing. And I’m not necessarily saying it’s a cause for concern if you feel like “my wife’s past haunts me.”
The question is why? Now this might be worth a conversation with your wife. Why do you want to do this? What do you think about me doing that as well, and keeping in touch with my exes? Having an open and honest conversation about this kind of thing, and just getting a feel for where you each stand on this issue.
Because some people really lack empathy. And what I mean by that is, that some people aren’t even aware of their own double standards. For example, someone’s keeping in touch with their ex on social media, if you ask them, “How would you feel if I was doing that?” Some people have not even thought of that before. Not really. And once they finally consider that thought, they might change their own perspective.
So it’s worthy of a calm and rational discussion. But I’ll also say, as I’ve said many times on this channel, that social media is very complicated. This is a brand-new invention for our species, it’s really only been around for like, what, 15 years? Something like that. The implications of this, we’re still figuring out, and we’re all trying to figure out the best way to do it. Is it really wise to keep in touch with our grade 8 girlfriend, or our grade 12th boyfriend or our ex-husband or ex-wife or whatever?
My own theory on keeping in touch with exes: I think it should be pretty limited.
Personally, if I was dating a woman, and she was “best friends” with her ex, they were messaging all the time, and they were “liking” each other’s stuff on social media endlessly, and all the rest… For me, that would constitute a red flag. For me, that would constitute a discussion, or at least some questions like: why are you doing this? What’s going on here? What need are you trying to fill by keeping in touch with this person?
But on the other hand, I’ll also share that as a man, I have a couple of my exes who are more like sisters now, because it’s been so long ago. And they’ve become friends with my family. And there’s no sexual tension between us, there’s nothing like that anymore. I don’t want them, they don’t want me, nobody wants to get back together. And it’s not like we’re best friends and messaging each other all the time. But there’s an occasional “Hello” at an event, or an occasional email like, once every few years or something like that. I don’t see that as a big deal. I’m not betraying my current girlfriend’s trust, or anything like that.
My point is: we’re all going to have slightly different perspectives on this, and we’re all going to have slightly different relationships with our exes.
And it’s worth talking to your wife to get a handle on why she’s doing what she’s doing.
So to go back to my own example: the reason that I’m keeping in touch with a couple of my exes is simply that they have become friends with my family. It’s more just like an effort to be friendly on my part, but not too friendly. Because I think that would be disrespectful to my current girlfriend.
I’m currently in a monogamous relationship. We have our own boundaries and values, which we’ve discussed very clearly. And I’m not going to betray those boundaries and values by “liking” every one of my ex’s pictures and sending inappropriate messages to her and all the rest.
Another idea, keep in mind I don’t know you, I don’t know your wife. I don’t know the situation. But…
There are some people who use their exes to fulfill emotional needs in their life.
Whether it’s a need for attention or a need for some kind of sexual tension, sometimes, like they want to keep the door open, so to speak. The relationship ended on unclear terms, and they just want to keep those options slightly available. They want to lead people on. Again, I don’t know your wife, I don’t know you. But there are some people like this who use social media as a tool for maintaining constant attention and validation.
And to my mind, that’s indicative of deep problems in the relationship. Not saying this is your fault. I’m saying your wife, if this fits her description, needs to take a long, hard look at herself and say, What am I doing here? Why am I acting this way? What needs am I trying to fill here outside my relationship? Is there a way that I can fulfill these needs on my own, and in my current relationship, rather than looking to my exes for attention, validation, and all the rest?
But the bottom line is: if you feel like “my wife’s past haunts me,” and she’s in touch with her exes constantly, I think you should talk about this with your wife, and get very clear on your own boundaries and values on this topic. You know, a lot of people don’t really think about this stuff, unless it comes up like this in a very direct way. But it’s worthwhile to sit down with your partner, and certainly journal on your own, and think about:
What does monogamy mean to me? What does a monogamous relationship mean to me?
How can I structure my life in a way so that my monogamous relationship is a container for all of my sexual needs, my needs for intimacy and human connection, and all the rest? Because people say the term monogamy, and they don’t realize that many people have very, very, very different ideas about this term.
In fact, the literal definition of this term involves having sex with one person in your entire life. Which in the 21st century describes approximately, I don’t know 0.000001% of the human population. Not saying it’s good or bad. It simply is. So it’s worthwhile to think about what monogamy means to you.
To what extent are you going to cast aside exes, and keep that nonsense and drama out of your life, cutting off certain connections from your past? To what extent do you want your relationship serving as a vessel for all the intimacy and sex and love that you want in your life?
And finally, if you feel like “my wife’s past haunts me,” and your wife or your partner is connecting with their ex on social media, and they share a child, obviously, that’s probably pretty different. Maybe they need to keep in touch about the kid’s appointments, their progress in school or whatever. That’s a very different discussion.
And if your partner has a kid with their ex, I think you should try to be as understanding as possible, realizing that in many ways, they don’t have a choice; they have to keep in touch with their ex for the purposes of raising their shared child.
Struggling with your wife’s past? Feeling like “my wife’s past haunts me?” Click here for more information about overcoming retroactive jealousy.