Published in Uncategorised by Dr Naomi Moller of The Open University on October 14th 2021
Whether or not messaging your ex ‘counts’ as cheating will depend in part on you, your partner and any agreements you have between you.
Research suggests most Facebook users have previous romantic or sexual partners as friends on the site. However, research also suggests that messaging or ‘friending’ an ex-partner on Facebook is defined by some people as cheating – but is it?
The first thing to recognise is that there’s a lot of research on jealousy in the context of romantic partner relationships. Furthermore, an ex – someone who you once may have loved and had sex with – is sometimes seen as a relationship threat. So, ask yourself honestly – what would messaging an ex mean for you or your partner?
Ask yourself honestly – what would messaging an ex mean for you or your partner?
Whether or not messaging your ex ‘counts’ as cheating will depend in part on you, your partner and any agreements you have between you (for more on this see ‘what is cheating online?’).
Consider the following scenarios:
These different scenarios could change the likelihood that messaging an ex might be experienced as cheating. In the first scenario, the likelihood of the ex being open to an affair seems low, which may make contacting them feel less risky for everyone. However, in the other two scenarios either you or your ex-partner might be open to an affair – this could potentially make messaging them feel more challenging and risky.
Social networking sites may mean that you need to think more about how to manage contact with ex-partners.
All of this can make it harder to manage your online relationship with an ex-partner.
Research on infidelity suggests that both individual unhappiness and problems in the relationship can make infidelity more likely. So, if you’re noticing a temptation to message an ex you might want to stop and think a bit about what’s going on for you. Do any of the following ring true for you?
If you’re noticing a temptation to message an ex you might want to stop and think a bit about what’s going on for you
Now ask yourself - will messaging this ex make your current relationship better? Will it make you feel better? The answer might be ‘no’ or it might be ‘yes’ but either way it might be useful to think about this before acting on anything.
To see the full list of research references which have informed the content on this page, please see our research references section.