Dear Wendy: “My Ex Still Contacts My Kids On Facebook”

I’m a single mom and I recently broke off a relationship of about a year with a guy who’s a single dad. I grew up in a step-family and could see danger ahead if we continued the relationship. Just suffice it to say that my kids are a big part of my life, but for my former SO, his kid IS his life. Here’s what I question: when I dumped him, of course, he unfriended me on Facebook. While I don’t live and die by my online presence, what bugs me (although I don’t know if it should) is that he has kept all my kids as Facebook friends. He comments on their posts, and sends them messages! I don’t stalk him online, but other than block my kids from my feeds, I keep seeing the comments. In the real world, I really don’t think ex-SOs would keep in contact with kids, but who knows? I thought maybe you could give me some perspective! — Single Mom

Well, online social networking IS part of the real world now, whether you like it or not, so since you know it’s always going to be part of your life, this is probably a good time to set up some rules regarding your love life, your kids and the internet. Maybe you need to make it clear to the men you date in the future that they are not to “friend” or otherwise connect with your children online. And then you need to make the same rule clear to your kids. As much as it’s a matter of protecting your privacy, it’s also about protecting your kids’ feelings, too. After all, how do you think they’d feel if they developed a bond with someone you were seeing, like your ex, for example, and then they were dumped, or “unfriended,” just as soon as you broke up? In fact, that may be the exact reason your ex has continued to remain in contact with them on Facebook. Of course, he could also be using his connection to them to annoy you, get you back, etc. If it’s really bothering you, why don’t you have a mature parent-to-parent conversation with your ex and tell him you think it’s in your kids’ best interest if he quit contacting them online. If he takes parenting as seriously as you say he does, surely he’ll understand you wanting to protect your own kids.

I have been dating my current boyfriend for almost two years now. We began dating in high school when I was a junior and he was a senior. Despite the fact that he graduated a year before me and we spent a year apart while he was in college, we still had a great relationship. We called each other almost everyday and he visited almost every weekend. Of course, nothing was perfect, but we handled the separation as best we could and are better for it. However, now that I have graduated and am going to the same college as he is, I am beginning to feel unsure about the solidity of our relationship. I feel that even though we both love each other dearly, maybe I fell in love too young. The media tells me I should be dating often, and I hear so many stories of college debauchery that it almost seems normal. Although we both love each other and have no reason to complicate or change anything, I find myself thinking: “What if he isn’t the one?” What if I’m supposed to make all the mistakes first, then find him? — Young and In Love

Forget about what the media says; what does your heart say? If you’re happy and your relationship is going well and you have no other compelling reason to change things, then don’t! Everyone’s trajectory is different; we arrive at milestone points in our lives at different times and on different paths and that’s totally fine. You’re going to have your own unique experiences that form and shape you as a person whether you stay with your boyfriend or break up. You — and he — may change so much on your own that a breakup will come naturally. Or, it may not. Maybe you’ll be together forever. But whatever happens, it’s always best to follow your own path rather than hop to a different path simply because yours is the one less traveled by.

But, listen, if you’re genuinely wondering if your boyfriend might not be the one, it’s totally OK to explore that idea. It may be, as you say, the media planting that thought in your head, but it penetrated your thoughts for a reason. It struck a chord, so you need to ask yourself why. If you feel like you’re missing out, take a look around at your single friends and the lives they lead and ask yourself if their experiences are really ones you’d trade your relationship for. If so, it’s possible your relationship has run its course and you need to honor that. But if not, just keep living your life and try not to worry that you didn’t “make all the mistakes” before finding your boyfriend. You have plenty of time to make mistakes, whether you stay with your boyfriend forever or not!