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Flummoxed Over Facebook Protocol

Monday, November 18, 2013
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Dear Miriam,

What is the Facebook protocol for wishing an ex-boyfriend mazel tov on his recent marriage? We are friendly with each other now, absolutely no hard feelings. If he were just an acquaintance with no romantic history, I would have written a message on his wall and not thought twice about it. But I've been "that crazy ex" before and I don't want to do that again. 

Signed,
Totally Normal Well-Wisher


Dear Well-Wisher,
 
I'm beginning to think I should have a category just for Facebook etiquette because wow, I get a lot of questions like this!
 
Write a message on his wall. That's it. Now how the heck am I going to fill the rest of this column?
 
Seriously, since you're bothering to ask, of course, it's not that simple. Write "mazel tov," on his wall (but, excuse me, isn't it called a timeline now?!). Look through the online photo album if you want to have that experience, see who you know in the pictures, wonder if there's an alternate universe in which you're the woman in white. Then move on. He'll probably see your post and think, "That's nice. I wonder what she's up to." Then he'll look through your photos and recent posts and have the same what-if experience before going back to his newly wedded bliss. Or maybe you don't want to look through the pictures and maybe he won't either because you've both moved on and you're just not that relevant to each other.
 
Since you say you're friendly, I'm going to assume that you really are and that he doesn't have any reason to think you're a crazy ex. If you've never given him a reason, then he won't think that. Your description of your current relationship essentially makes you into a casual acquaintance at this point in your lives, and you should feel absolutely free to act accordingly. That could also mean not writing on his wall if it slips your mind or just doesn't seem that important.
 
Another option is to write an email or private Facebook message that says nothing more than, "mazel tov," so that fellow onlookers who know your former relationship status won't have the opportunity to wonder whether or not these nuptials broke your heart. However, writing to him more privately may make him wonder why you chose that method of contact. Or, again, maybe he won't think anything of it because it's just not that remarkable, and in the middle of a sea of good wishes, yours is just going to be one more.
 
It's nice to wish someone well, whether it's an ex, a casual acquaintance or even someone further removed from you who has good news. Treat this news as you would treat any other. If someone does mention your post to you, respond truthfully that you're happy for him and wanted to make sure you told him so.
 
Be well,
Miriam

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