My ex-boyfriend deleted me as a Facebook Friend.
And I’m bothered by it. Probably way more than I should be.

I don’t pay much attention to my Friend List. I have my Friends neatly compartmentalized. When I get a friend request, I don’t just confirm them. I put them in a neat list that helps me to reference them properly. It took me hours on a rainy Saturday night to get this together and I’m quite proud of my system:

I'm a bit obsessed about my Friend Lists. I like order.

I'm a bit obsessed about my Friend Lists. I like order.

See, isn’t that soothing to the eye? I love looking at my Lists, so orderly and neat.

Because of my system, I pretty much add anyone who asks. I’m using Facebook as a marketing and network tool, no sense in being picky about Friends. If you ask, I add. At least 99% of the time. I even have a special category for people I just don’t know at all. It’s called Who Is This?

And I’ve never deleted anyone. Ever.

When I got my first friend request from an ex-boyfriend, I wasn’t sure what to do. “Derrick” and I were still friendly in real life. We checked in with each other at least once a year, sent the congratulatory emails for promotions and such. I added Derrick as a friend. And after a quick conference with The Husband, I decided that all exes would be added. Even the insanely crazy one(s).

No big deal, right? Having an ex-boyfriend as a Facebook Friend doesn’t mean you’re in any closer contact with them than you want to be. I have my privacy settings set up very specifically. If you’re not in certain groups, you can’t see hi-res photos of my kids or my home or my too-big smile.

I have 338 friends right now. I won’t out myself on how many are exes. But let’s just say that just about every guy I’ve ever sat next to at a movie theater on a proper date is a Friend.

Alex, a guy I dated for three years, is one of those Friends. He is a very good man. Wasn’t the best boyfriend. But he grew up and matured into a beautiful specimen. We remained relatively close after we broke up. Probably a little too close. When we both moved on to serious relationships, our contact dwindled down to the occasional email. Professionally, we touched bases more often. We work in the same industry and I’ve reached out to him occasionally in that capacity.

The last time I heard from him was a few months ago. I emailed him, asking him for a lead on a source I needed to track down for a story. He gave me a good lead on how to find the person. And that was that. He sent a PS: he was getting married soon.

I congratulated him. I was particularly happy for him for two reasons:

1.    I knew that the relationship he had been in years before had been painful on a number of levels. He’d confided in me about the pain and I assured him that he would find a better candidate.
2.    I know his fiancée. She’s also a Facebook friend. We’ll call her Jane. I don’t know Jane well. But I do know that she’s drop-dead gorgeous with an exuberant, vibrant personality. She’s a go-getter, very ambitious and spiritual. And I can honestly say that she makes a great match for his laidback personality. Jane had actually emailed me months ago in a professional capacity. And she’d mentioned that she was dating Alex and what a coincidence it was that I’d dated him years before.

Alex told me the date of the wedding and all that good stuff and I sent him all my best wishes. He’d done the same for me when I told him about my wedding and later, about the birth of my first child. (He was actually on the list of people I emailed from the hospital after I delivered. And he sent me a really sweet email).

A few months ago, I ran into a college friend who asked if I’d seen the pictures of Alex and Jane’s wedding on Facebook. I hadn’t. But I don’t look for pictures on Facebook. If they happen to come up on my news feed, I’ll click through. But other than that, the pictures I see most often are profile pics.

In the back of my mind, I remember thinking, I want to check out those pics… But I never got around to looking for them and I forgot all about it.

This morning, I came into my office, sat down and logged on to Facebook. I had a few friend requests and I was adding each one to the proper list. One of the friend requests was from a woman who had stumbled onto my blog and loved it! (Yay!)  I added her to my Update Blog list. I looked at her info page and noticed that she worked at the same company as Alex.

And then it dawned on me. Had I remembered to add Alex to my Blog Update list? I knew he’d appreciate my blog. I searched for his name on my friend list. And saw this.



My stomach dropped.

Well of course he’s my friend! We’d talked back and forth right here on Facebook. Hadn’t we? Or maybe that was just my regular email? Were we ever Facebook friends? I went into my Inbox and did a search. Sure enough, I saw the hey-how-ya-been emails about job promotions and the messages about the wedding.

I went back to my search engine and entered his name again. Maybe I spelled it wrong…

oh. well.

oh. well.

Well damn. He could have put me on Limited Profile. He could have set his privacy settings so that I didn’t see his pictures or his wall or his status updates.

But instead he just completely deleted me.

I’m not going to front. Not even a little bit. My feelings are hurt. Maybe I’m too old for this Facebook business. But it kind of feels like I just took a look at his photo album and he’s cut my face out of our pictures.

Now, let me state, for the record: I am a very happily married woman. No complaints there.

But honestly, I had a life before I met my husband. And that life doesn’t vaporize because I get older and farther removed from those memories.

I don’t feel like cyberspace is any different. But maybe it is. Did Alex delete my number from his cell phone too? Delete my email address? If I email him, will it bounce back? If someone asked him if he knew me would he say no? If I run into him on the street is he gonna hold up his hand and say BLOCKED! and start running away?

I thought about shooting Alex an email: ummm. Did you really DELETE me?

But how pathetic would that be? He doesn’t want me on his list. Move on.

So I am.

Still not sure how I feel about it. But I can understand and respect however he wants to handle his exes on Facebook.

Dear readers: Can you please tell me how you handle exes on Facebook? Do you add them all? Do you have rules about it? If you are married or in a relationship, do you care about who your partner has on their Friend List? I’d love to hear from you…

P.S. You know I had to check to see if his new wife was still my Facebook Friend. She deleted me too.

23 Responses to “Deleted.”

  1. serenakim Says:

    It annoys my husband that I have some exes on facebook but he knows I’m dedicated through and through! Also, I am very strict about who I accept as Facebook friends. If you aren’t really my friend, then you’re not getting past the velvet rope. Maybe that’s why I don’t have all those privacy settings and lists that you do! But that’s a good idea. It would definitely make it easier when I send out group emails. Cheers!

  2. Meeks Says:

    Girl, I feel you. My last significant boyfriend refuses to add me to his FB list even though we still talk. His excuse is, “I’m never on it,” even though I see he added a new pic last week! Perhaps I give too much thought to these types of things as well but it hurts all the same. Either love me (publically) or leave me alone, you know?

  3. slb Says:

    About your P.S.: yikes. Talk about adding insult to injury!

    As someone who’s more commonly on the flip side of this conundrum, I can only think of one or two reasons why people do this. Both reasons have to do with insecurity, possessiveness, and/or distrust. I hope I’m wrong in your case, but as a random deleter, usually at the behest of my boyfriend, it’s most commonly related to insecurity, possessiveness, and/or distrust.

    Incidentally, an ex did something similar to me the other day. It really does sting more than it should. Like, it’s just Facebook, right? Except it isn’t. It’s so many other things. Mine was related to a group I started which he declined to join and it’s like, “Does he think this is a stupid idea? *Is* this a stupid idea? Does he not want to support any of my endeavors? Is this because I deleted him that time? (lol) Does the fact that I care about this mean my boyfriend’s right about the unnecessary drama of having exes as friends?”

    And what are all of the above questions rooted in? Insecurity, possessiveness, distrust.

  4. Retha Says:

    Ooohhh Aliya! This is a good one! But running off to lunch and then meetings, I’ll comment more this evening….yeah I got not much to do on a Friday night!

  5. Aliya S. King Says:

    @serena: where you do you draw the line? Do you confirm requests from people you kinda know? I feel awful about ignoring people. irrational, i know. that’s why I have my lists…

    @meeks: can I talk to you for a second like we’re rocking chair friends even though I’m not sure who you are? Damn him! That ain’t right. If he’s not willing to add you, I’m seeing some serious red-flags. hell to the naw.

    @SLB: you’re right. it’s so not *just* facebook. Which is why it sucks. sometimes.

  6. sheena Says:

    hey, girl.

    i’ve both ignored and deleted exes from my friends list when it came clear to me that i really didn’t want to see their pictures, didn’t particularly care about their status and had basically abandoned any real, meaningful interest in their lives. i’ve learned to be pretty cold in that way – not with an intent to insult, but with a ruthlessness about my own emotional self-care. ultimately, it wasn’t really about them, just more about what i want and don’t want to experience on facebook and the need for me to detach from people and experiences in the past so i be can sane and productive in the now.

    all that said, don’t take it personally, li. alex’s actions probably have nothing to do with you per se. that’s a weight on your spirit you don’t even have to pick up, much less release …

  7. carlito Says:

    Ok… Your blog’s becoming as addictive as facebook, and that’s definitely NOT a good thing for a procrastinatin’ ass supposed-to-be-writin’ type writer like me.

    So… I cheated on this comment, but bear with me. This latest post of yours runs along similar lines of something I’d posted a few months ago, on MySpace: my reasons for deleting my MySpace account.

    Hope it helps make some sense of what has become a ridiculously convoluted (new) set of relationship protocols and ethics.



    Tuesday, September 09, 2008

    The Final Curtain
    Current mood: drained





    Hear that?

    That’s the sound of relevancy coming to an end.

    Although it’s had its moments, MySpace no longer serves my purposes. Shit, make that a double, barkeep, as I’m just as irrelevant to this place as I’ve become to certain people in my life, my amount of (chuckle-chuckle) “friends,” notwithstanding.

    Truth is, despite how much I’d like to try and convince you otherwise, I’m not good with this MySpace shit. And though I’ve cracked up at the myriad “MySpace fucked up my relationship” stories around the campfire, I too, have one of my own, even while not being in a relationship. (Very close friend of mine begs to differ, no matter how many times I try and tell her that said relationship ended almost four years ago).

    I’ll spare you the embarrassing details, but suffice it to say that I’ve learned the following:

    1 – Can’t be in love with someone who doesn’t love you back. That one’s been around a lot longer than MySpace, obviously. But I’ll be damned if good ol’ Tom and crew don’t complicate shit…

    2 – See, used to be you broke up with someone, and you’d either be forced to move onward in pursuit of your own healing (sex, drugs, rock ‘n roll, baby) or run the risk of having a restraining order thrown at ya ass. With MySpace, et al, you don’t have to physically see your ex living out her “I’ma do me” mantra to know she’s doing exactly that…

    3 – And if you’re not disciplined enough to fall back from (ahem) occasionally perusing her page to see who’s what and what’s who, your imagination might paint pictures the likes of which no Zane could ever hope to even dream about. Or worse, you just might find out that your imagination is more on-point than you gave it credit for…

    4 – And if your APD is anywhere between Dexter’s and Tony Soprano’s, you’re lucky if all you DO catch is that restraining order.

    5 – I can’t afford a restraining order, let alone a felony.


    My MySpace “friends,” I bid you peace and such. Ya boy Lito here knows when to fold ’em. Figured I’d cut my losses before I lose what’s left of my self-respect.

    In all fairness to any of you with whom I’ve become a little more than MySpace-cool with, I’ll leave my account open for a few more days or so, if you’d like to trade info and determine other ways to keep in touch.

    If not, I pray that those of you with hopes and aspirations beyond immediate gratification find the strength, faith and discipline to follow your dreams — with honor.

    Catch you on the other side…

    — carlito machete, used-to-be-tough guy


    ps. Your blogs have not only become addictive, they’re inspiring me to come up for air from my other projects every now and then and start blogging as well.

    Gracias, asking!!

    =) =) =)

  8. Chris Wilder Says:

    Aliya, I see about five of your group lists that I should be in. Friends, writer friends, the thread, industry and one of the blog updates. Do your friends ever overlap lists?

    I’ve been deleted by exes and people that were never even my girlfriend. I was deleted recently by someone… let’s just call them Sheena (probably no relation to the poster above but you never know). I never understood why but you just kind of let those things go.

    I was also deleted by someone who was really close and then she moved away. We hadn’t talked for years until she moved back to NY. Then she suddenly expected me to drop everything (I had a girlfriend at the time) and be with her. When I didn’t, she got all mad and deleted me. I sent her a message a couple of weeks later asking what was up. She apologized and realized what she was expecting wasn’t realistic. She friended me again but we never talk or communicate on Facebook.

    Now, more directly to what you wrote, Aliya: I find that most married men are not on Facebook. The few that I know that ARE on Facebook are not very active at all on there. I have conversations with men all the time who got a new girlfriend and are dropping off of Facebook for a while. I’m sure that has to do with women’s age old theory that all men cheat. But as much as men cheat, women misinterpret messages from other women. As far as Alex, now that he’s married, I’m sure he doesn’t want anything that could be an issue to come up on Facebook. I think that if you’re married, the potential for some BS is too high. You have to get off of Facebook or if you need it for business or something, then cut everybody off that could remotely have had in the past or may have in the future some kind of romantic involvement with you.

  9. Aliya S. King Says:

    @Sheena: Your comment is proof-positive that blogging is a good thing for me. Cause i get perspective… What I’m realizing is that everyone doesn’t use Facebook the way I do. I’m 99% professsional on that site. I don’t throw snowballs, poke, et al. But Alex and Jane may have decided to have a very streamlined Facebook existence. And that is totally cool.

  10. Aliya S. King Says:

    @Carlito: yes, you definitely need to start blogging. I miss your voice.

    And I don’t know how you EVER dealt with myspace. I could never get the hang of it. So loud, messy. Too many graphics. Always took six days for a damn page to load. No one used their real names so it was impossible to find anyone. I once asked my 16 year old niece what her name was on myspace. She shrugged and said, “I’m not sure. I always use my URL…” (or maybe it was vice-versa). Either way, I couldn’t deal.

  11. Aliya S. King Says:

    @Chris: I try not to overlap friends. Because then when I send out group messages, some people will get it more than once. And that may be annoying. You know what list your in. That group trumps all others, (and has a higher clearance), than any other you could belong to.

  12. Aliya S. King Says:

    @Chris: I totally hear you. But I thought Alex and I (and honestly, Jane too), were above that. We all interact in a strictly professional way and always have.

    My husband is also on Facebook. I don’t visit his page. That’s his space and his world. I would not put any limitations on who should be on his friend page. Honestly, if he deleted an ex after we got married, that would make me suspicious. I would think, is it that serious? And I surely would NOT delete the chick if she was my facebook friend.

    But again, as I said above in response to Sheena’s post: People use Facebook differently. And it’s cool for Alex and Jane to do things their way.

  13. carlito Says:

    @ asking: thanks, luv. VERY much appreciated!!!

  14. carlito Says:

    @ asking: thanks, luv. VERY much appreciated!!!

    re: MySpace, well, i have a background (somewhere, waaaaay in the back) in graphic design, etc, so i was comfortable w/ the noise.

    my original intention for it was more promotion than networking and more networking than socializing. (i’m not a prude who feels somehow above meeting someone on the internet; to me, it’s just yet one more way for human beings to interact).

    but after a while, along w/ the reasons above, it started to feel like a meat market, kinda like what Black Planet and MiGente have become. what’s worse, it felt to me like nobody was paying attention to me BUT me. lol…

    meant that in terms of blog posts, more than anything. just started getting more than a little frustrating that there i was, trying to spark convo, trade thoughts, change the world a couple of sentences at a time, and the only replies i’d get weren’t replies at all, but random friend requests or party promoters trying to convince me that the coming Friday night at whatever NY/LA/Miami/Atl hot spot du jour was somehow different than the myriad Friday nights i’d spent at myriad bars and clubs around the country.

    in short, shit got BORING. add to that the whole bleh! feeling i’d get from being too privy to the ex’s situation(s), and i was DONE.


    re: facebook, it’s less cluttered, much less sex’d out and DOES serve my networking and promotional purposes.

    as far as socializing goes, i’ve since fallen back from all that for no other reason than i’m a thousand mufuckin’ times more focused on getting my career back on track than to be trying to liven up my Friday nights w/ random hook-ups, dig me?

    ps. pls excuse the double reply. hit the “submit” button by mistake in the previous.

  15. Hanif Says:

    Maybe he did it as a statement to “Jane” showing her that he is willing to cut all ties at the drop of a hat is she has the slightest bit of discomfort.

    The networking sites are a gift and a curse sometimes in relationships. It’s great for keeping in touch, like I haven’t seen you in about 10 years but I see your updates and blogs and see all is well it eliminates the wonder.

    I had a similar incedent when I was recently engaged, my fiancee was reluctant about the facebook status change from “relationship” to “engaged”, because I still have one of my ex’s as a friend, she said she felt uncomfortable with her looking at our pics and “knowing our business” I shrugged it off, and said maybe she doesn’t care.

    I too found myself feeling some type of way when the “miss you’s” and “call me’s” are used to loosely.

    But your right different people use the sight differently.

    Or Maybe he grew out of it and deleted his page altogther?

  16. Aliya S. King Says:

    @Hanif: good points here. I don’t know what I would do about changing my status on Facebook. If I ever got divorced, God forbid, I would leave my status as Married forever. Just because I couldn’t bear to have people all up in my business about it. That would be awful. I don’t even think I could do the Single/InARelationship/It’s Complicated/Engaged merry-go-round I’ve seen people do. Way too much information.

    about his page: it’s altogether possible that he (and she) deleted their pages altogether. I could find out in two shakes by asking any of the 76 friends we had in common. But I won’t. It’s not really important.

  17. Retha Says:

    Ok, so now Facebook has gotten me all insecure and paranoid about which Aliya friend list I’m on!! :) What’s my clearance girl????
    Seriously, this was a great post….I truly am fascinated with the psychology behind this “social networking” thing. Its almost as if you’re in high school again, checking who’s friends with who, wondering if someone will accept your friend request…wondering what is the protocol for accepting/rejecting friends if you’re a newbie like me…too many questions, too much emotion. I just want to be able to reconnect with people I may have once been close with and, at the least, keep it cordial. I think I have an ex or 2 that are my friends, my husband may or may not be aware but I don’t think he cares much…..could be wrong, but he’s never mentioned it. He has a MySpace space, pre-us, and I never look at it, nor do I care who he’s friends with. For me this is just fun. I only accept requests from people that I really do know, as I use FB for social and not professional reasons and I think I do a pretty good job with the privacy settings. I just try to keep it all in perspective…..

  18. yes Says:

    We’re friends on Facebook. I’m under Who Is This? lol I gotta work on sending notes with my requests…

    I thought I was the only one that made lists and added everyone to one. I was sitting there calculating too making sure nobody was left out. lol I had a few ppl that could go on two lists, but I had to make a decision.

    I really miss Social Timeline though. What’s the point of filling out how you know someone if they are not gonna have that? I liked seeing which years I met the most people.

    Back to the topic, u sure they didn’t delete their pages altogether? A lot of times I can’t figure out who is missing, but when I can I search for them. Some people’s pages disappear then come back after awhile. I don’t know how that works. I wrote a blog about adding an ex on Facebook once, he had gotten married, then his page was deleted. *shrugs* My number seems to change so much I just stopped paying attention to it.

    I had added a lot of people from school that I barely knew or didn’t know at all, I just recently deleted a lot of them. Half the people on there don’t post anything so what’s the point? I deleted one guy I was dealing with cuz he was a loser and I just didn’t want to see his face. I had a few girlfriends request me. I didn’t change my privacy until recently so if they wanted to spy and see who it was commenting on their mans picture they could have just done so. lol There’s only a few ppl on my facebook I actually talk to offline.

  19. Aliya S. King Says:

    @Retha: Don’t start! After this post, I have a few people that are like, Uh, excuse me! Can I see some photos?! So uh, yeah, I need to update that list. =)
    And I’m so like you with Facebook. It is so utterly confusing and complicated. But ultimately, we stick with it because we like the connection. I haven’t seen you since we were passing each other by on a stairwell at a crowded nightclub ten years ago. (I remember, vaguely, though I was two sheets to the wind). Without Facebook, who knows when we would connect? Ultimately, it’s a beautiful thing. I need be in touch with Retha. Do you know you are the first person to introduce me to Stevie Wonder? (The real Stevie. Not the I-just-called-to-say-I-love-you crap.) But I digress…

  20. Aliya S. King Says:

    @retha: oh, and one more thing. I thought it was interesting that you use facebook mostly for social stuff. I am just the opposite. 99% of my Friends are actually editors I write for, literary agents, editors I’d like to write for, friends I’ve met through the industry. It’s a thin line. Some of them I consider friends. My alumni from The Source circa 1999 is truly like family to me. But ultimately, this is work. And I have to remember that everyone doesn’t use it this way.

  21. Aliya S. King Says:

    @yes: well who the heck are you?! lol.

    anyway. I miss Social Timeline too. I didn’t remember it until you mentioned it. Just realized it’s gone! That was helpful. Wonder why they got rid of it?

    And as for sending notes w/requests. I think Facebook should make you do it. It would be so helpful if there was a template where you could put “you sat next to me in biology” or “you broke my heart in a million pieces.” or whatever.

  22. Alimayu Says:

    I didn’t know you had kids…I guess I’m on that very “limited profile” or “who is this?” list…I have most of my exes on my friends list…I don’t limit them on what they’ll see in my life, but my life isn’t as high-profile as yours you being in the media all the times. I think it’s good that your hubby isn’t paranoid about you having your exes as friends…and I commend him…trust is important…Yo, keep climbing Aliya, it’s good to see you doing so well!

  23. heather Says:

    So yeah, apparently there’s a science to facebook “unfriending.” And phobia that packs emotional baggage for days. Links!

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