I have a few ex-boyfriends as Facebook friends. This past week, an ex-fiance (a victim of my indecisive, immature early 20's) added me as a friend on Facebook, and I accepted. He has a beautiful wife and two kids, and it was great to see how his little family is doing. I have accepted Facebook friend requests from lots of men- old colleagues, former college friends, and guys that I met on my mission trips. If you are on Facebook, you are undoubtedly virtual friends with people of both genders. I mean, if we are friends in real life, then being friends on Facebook is no different, right? The problem is this. Facebook feels different. Digital communication in general feels different. It feels controlled, and so people treat digital communication far more lightly that they would real, live, in-person communication. I would not sit in a closed room with a married man and have a private conversation. But married women will carry on private, super-secret Facebook (email, text, etc.) conversations with a man other than their husband, and will not think twice. I know it happens. And you probably do, too.
I assure you, earlier in my life, I would not have thought twice about this, but I was ignorant then. I am not ignorant now. At least not about this. And let me tell you that I know how it works. I know that good intentioned communication and innocent friendships can turn into something more. And it happens in the lives of good Christian husbands and wives, ones that would never consider being unfaithful to their spouse... until they are. And then they don't know how they got there. Slippery, slippery slopes everywhere.
So let me be clear about something. Flirting on Facebook is the same as flirting in real life. Flirting via text message is the same as doing it face to face. Email or instant message, same thing. Expressing affection or admiration for someone other than your spouse, no matter what your communication method, is a dangerous thing. It's not okay. And it comes in many forms... questionable Facebook photo compliments, communication that your spouse does not know about, random text messages asking about your day. Some of these things seem kind of innocent and people may shrug them off as fine. But most likely, it's not fine. If you hear from someone of the opposite sex and you light up a little, there's your red flag. Run, don't walk, far far away. Run. Because if you don't, it could cost you everything. Your marriage. Your family. Your home. Your testimony. Everything.
You may think I'm extreme in this. And I may well be. I can assure you, though, that I would rather be on the cautious side than find myself in a situation where I am confiding in someone other than my husband. I can't see any harm in being too careful. I see the potential for all kinds of destruction in being careless. It's a chance I can't afford to take. And if you are married, neither can you.
So what do we do? We have to be in relationship with people. We work with people. We interact with people. We catch up with old friends. We can't avoid it, and I wouldn't want to. So I will tell you how this works for me. I have myself set up with all kinds of accountability. My husband has access to my email and Facebook accounts. He can check my text messages any time he wants to. He doesn't, but he knows that he is free to do it. If I hear from a guy, via Facebook or email or text, he knows about it. I tell him everything. And he does the same when he talks to a woman. Before Jake, I had girlfriends that I counted on (and still do) for accountability. If I received random communication from a married ex-boyfriend or guy friend, I would let them know about it. And they would encourage me to make right decisions in response to that communication. Every now and then, they still check in with me. And this is invaluable. I don't do this because I am a man-crazed maniac and can't control myself. I do it because I am a regular person, a sinner, with the potential to do anything. I want to protect my marriage and my ministry. Constant communication about who I am in communication with keeps me from unintentionally starting down a dangerous road. Very few people start out wanting to be unfaithful. Most are just being friendly. And without excellent boundaries, friendly can turn ugly very quickly.
So if you are single, feel free to flirt with other single people. In fact, I encourage it. Flirt in person, via Facebook, text, email, however you like. It's a great way to change that Facebook status from single to married. I did it in a little over 3 months. But if you are married, for the sake of your marriage and your children, save the flirting and the admiration for your spouse.