I Started a Secret Facebook Friendship with My Ex’s Wife
I knew it was wrong, but I couldn’t stop responding.
Of all possible illicit online liaisons, how did I wind up with my first lover’s wife?
I fell for David when I was 14. But after six years together, I had a birth control mishap, an abortion, a meltdown and a humiliating split I couldn’t erase—since he refused to speak to me. While I was friendly with other exes, this initial heartbreak remained foggy and unfinished.
By 35, I was married to a taller, sweeter man, sure I’d completely recovered from my first disastrous breakup. Yet during years of difficult fertility treatments, I was haunted by the pregnancy I’d ended in college. Was being barren punishment for not becoming a young mother? I feared I’d ruined my last chance. Should I have kept the baby? I craved an answer to that lingering question.
The Internet led me back to David, 500 miles away. I emailed him, asking to discuss our painful falling out two decades earlier.
“I’d rather take out my own appendix with a bottle of Jack and a dull spoon,” he answered.
Still sardonic, the quality that originally attracted me. “Why?” I pushed.
“Let’s leave the bad memories intact. Am I scared to see you again? Fucking right I am,” he wrote. “Think you’re still nuts? Is a trout’s ass watertight? Can we finish with the joint therapy session now?”
This sarcastic exchange completed the chapters of my memoir that were focused on him. Upon publication, I sent him an O Magazine review of my book that included his quote, adding “It was just optioned by a film producer.” I hoped he’d talk now that my romantic trajectory—and his fateful rejection—was deemed cinema-worthy.
“Hey, that’s great,” he replied this time.
I was relieved. Mature adults, we were over the past. No harm done. Trauma averted.
Until the next email: From his wife.
“Congrats on all ur success,” she wrote.
He must have forwarded my message to her. I worried they’d shared a computer and joked about the original Crazy Ex-Girlfriend who wouldn’t leave. I awaited a “get away from my husband” admonishment.
Instead she wrote, “I’d like Eva Mendes to play my part in the movie.”
I wondered what she really wanted from me. To see what I looked like or if we were similar? To gloat? I decided his wife—let’s call her “Eva”—was a test I had to pass to get a last heart-to-heart with her spouse. Assuming he was reading along, I typed how pretty she’d looked in a sparkly black dress at a party. I’d spied the picture web-stalking a classmate’s Instagram, curious if David still had hair.
When Eva requested a Facebook friendship, I was flattered. Why not add her? Here’s why not:
“No offense, but maybe think about losing the bangs?” she wrote. “Ur gorgeous, but darlin’ it’s aging u.” She added, “p.s. Ur facebook entries suck ass. U write beautifully, but social media, not so much. I’m available for 50 bucks an hour :)”
This semi-stranger using tween slang wanted me to pay her to edit my web profile? Rather than finding my path to emotional resolution, I’d stepped on a landmine. Guess I wasn’t the only one harboring hidden animosity.
Annoyed by her insults, I investigated her Facebook wall. No job mention, lots of selfies, Woody Allen quotes, an article “Do you Suffer from Decision Fatigue?” In khaki shorts, T-shirt, and sneakers, she looked like a cute camp counselor. There were few pictures of David. I was disappointed that their teenage son resembled her, not her husband, curious to revisit the curly red-haired science-brain I’d met in ninth grade.
Looking through her albums, I relived my six years with David. He was the first to take me to bed, to get me high at a Dylan concert, to give me jewelry (a gold heart necklace), to say “I love you.” (Actually I blurted it out and he asked, “Think I’d put up with your insanity if I didn’t love you too?”) Despite our intense passion, we were socially acceptable, cruising to our little brothers’ Bar Mitzvahs in his silver Camaro, blessed by our parents. Hooking up in Israel during my summer study abroad, it felt like we were both hot and holy, tricking the world.
Then, in college, despite using condoms, I found myself three weeks late. He proposed. But I was petrified, not ready for parenthood. After terminating the pregnancy, I had a drug and alcohol-fueled breakdown at 20, smoking, drinking, doing magic mushrooms and coke. Afraid of sex, David, and my body, I told him, “I need some time alone.” When I resurfaced to apologize three months later, he wouldn’t return my calls. He kept sending me agonized Bob Dylan lyrics in the mail. I assumed that meant he still cared.