If you're single, the question of whether or not it's okay to be Facebook friends with an ex has a simple answer: Who cares? You're single. If you want to make yesterday's ex today's next with a text, be my guext.
The world is your accept button!
But you married people know that being FB friends with an ex is a whole other can of squirms.
There you are, relatively innocently scrolling through the Facebook group of your graduating high school class. Look---there's that person you used to know! And there's another! And another! There's that girl who went with that one guy! There's that guy who was always getting in trouble! Why, it's just like being at your high school reunion---except that instead of being dressed up and trying to look cool, you're wearing your ancient bathrobe, and sprawled in your chair like Melto, the Wonder Schlump.
And then your mouse-finger freezes, and your heart leaps out of your chest and plops down onto the floor and hustles its leaky self down to the corner drugstore, because suddenly you see staring at you from a picture the size of a postage stamp someone you used to really, really know.
Someone you knew so well that the only person in this world who knows exactly how well is that person.
There's your old flame. Still among the living. Not dead. Not faded into the ephemeral. Not dissolved into the past.
And looking pretty good!
And right there is where you need to shut down your browser, Bowzer. Time to execute a Facebook about-face. Don't look back. Don't wave good-bye. Don't let the moment linger. Shut 'er down like a nuclear power plant whose glow you could see from the moon.
You know the old saying: "He who in stealth again approaches that tree from whence he did once exuberantly gnosh will find there now naught but sour, moldy fruit certain to deliver unto his system a sickness ruinous to his evening and way beyond that if he doesn't knock it off right now." (If that's not a saying with which you are familiar, then it's clear you need to read more books.)
Facebook has a way of tempting you to turn--with but a touch of a key!---the past into the present. And at the moment that possibility presents itself to you, it all seems innocent enough. So you become a Facebook friend with an old flame. So what? It's not like you're going to run out of your house and meet your erstwhile paramour at the local No-Tell Motel. It's just social media, after all. You're really just being sociable, right?
Wrong, wrong, wrong: and you know it. In fact, I'm not even going to insult you by going into why it's wrong. You already know why.
Well, on the very off-chance that you've forgotten: If you did begin to engage an old flame of yours via Facebook, would you tell your spouse that you had? If not, then by hitting that "accept" (or send) button, you just volunteered to become a flat-out liar---and you're treating your wife or husband the way you sure wouldn't want them to treat you. Would you want your spouse to be any kind of friends with someone with whom they used to be even a little in love?
The rules of marriage are perfectly clear: If you wouldn't want your spouse to do it, then you can't do it yourself. And part of what you can't do is is in any way leave open the door of your life to someone of the opposite sex who used to be central to your life. Not because you know you know there's no danger of your again being in a relationship with that person, but because it's simply not fair to ask your spouse to have to be okay with you maintaining that relationship.
Part of "I do" means "I won't." And part of what you're not supposed to do when you're married is either lie to your spouse, or give them any reason to believe that you'd like to in any way continue a relationship with your ex.
Don't worry that you'll hurt the feelings of your ex by totally ignoring them on Facebook (or anywhere else). If they're in a real relationship, they'll understand. And if they're not in a real relationship, and are instead sniffing around looking for the kind of emotional if not physical dalliances in which people are forever allowing themselves to become entangled because they're just too weak, lazy, or stupid to control themselves (hey: nobody said being a grown-up was pretty), then what do you care for such a person anyway? Let them go find someone who, like they, is a little fuzzy on who exactly they are.
You know who you are. The whole key to life lies in never forgetting it. Even in those times---especially in those times---when life itself seems to be conspiring to give you reason to.