Relationship Connection: My wife looked up her ex-boyfriends online

Photo GettyImages-533835366 Credit Nektarstock, St. George News

Question

I noticed that my wife was searching for old friends from high school and college online (Google, social media, et cetera). Included in those searches were some previous boyfriends, including one guy that she was almost engaged to. I asked her about the searches and she treated it like it was nothing serious. She said that she was just curious how people’s lives have turned out.

We’ve been married for almost 20 years and have a good marriage and family life. I don’t want to keep bugging her about it, but it makes me nervous as to why she would need to find out more information on previous boyfriends. Am I overreacting? Is it worth addressing?

Answer

I see why you’re concerned. It seems there are countless stories of marriages ending after one spouse finds a former flame online and rekindles old feelings. I certainly see it in my office on a regular basis and it’s something all married couples can’t afford to ignore.

However, you don’t need to accuse your wife of anything. While she’s stepping on to a slippery slope, please keep in perspective that you don’t have any evidence that she has cheated on you. It’s easy to feel threatened and treat her in a way that would shut down any productive discussion. This is a time for questions, not accusations.  

Even though it’s easy to be impulsive and search online for any random thought we may have, I believe there is a reason she began searching for these ex-boyfriends online. It’s one thing to wonder where life has taken people from our past, but it’s another thing to spend time researching and searching out information on specific individuals.

It’s important for her to understand the reasons she pursued this course and not immediately dismiss these feelings as unimportant. Based on my observations over almost two decades of clinical practice, here are some possible reasons she might be searching:

  • Feeling unsure about where she is in her life and wanting to see how she compares with their lives.
  • Feeling low and wanting to reconnect to a time when she was energetic, younger and full of potential.
  • Feeling lonely in her relationships and reconnecting to a time when she felt desired.
  • Recognizing unfinished business or a bad ending with ex-boyfriends and seeking closure.
  • Seeking out a thrill by seeking out questionable relationships.
  • Unable to address unresolved feelings or thoughts in her marriage and turning to old relationships to validate those needs.

I share these with you not to judge or condemn her. This isn’t an invitation to interrogate or psychoanalyze her motives. I simply want you to understand that there are usually deeper motives for seeking out old relationships that aren’t necessarily about wanting to start a new relationship with them.

She owes it to herself and her marriage to understand why searching for these guys moved from a thought to action. It’s normal to wonder how people from our past have turned out. Even though she may not have contacted them, it’s wise for her to understand why she’s giving them any energy at all.

Lovingly and gently explore with her what moved her to seek them out. If you can drop the fear, defensiveness and blame, she’s more likely to explore this with you. These are fair questions to ask. More importantly, it’s an opportunity to identify areas where she may have unacknowledged needs and emotions. This could open up a chance for more connection and growth in her life and in your marriage.

Stay connected!

Geoff Steurer is a licensed marriage and family therapist in private practice in St. George, Utah. He specializes in working with couples in all stages of their relationships. The opinions stated in this article are solely his and not those of St. George News.

Have a relationship question for Geoff to answer? Submit to:

Email: geoff@lovingmarriage.com

Twitter: @geoffsteurer

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Facebook: facebook.com/GeoffSteurerMFT

Copyright St. George News, SaintGeorgeUtah.com LLC, 2016, all rights reserved.

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12 Comments

  • Brian September 7, 2016 at 8:15 am

    Dude, relax. Googling someone is NOT the same as making contact with them or meeting for lunch. And as you said, she was looking up all sorts of old friends, ~including~ old boyfriends. All you mentioned were searches, not contact. Totally different.

    I’ve looked up all sorts of people from my past and it’s fascinating to find out where they ended up and where they live. I’ve actually made contact with exactly zero of them. I was just curious what happened to them.

    Get over it and take your wife to dinner.

  • 42214 September 7, 2016 at 11:54 am

    She is fantasizing about what life would have been with them instead of the last 20 years with you. Bad sign buddy. Her next move is probably LGBT sites trolling for a little action.

    • Bob September 7, 2016 at 6:26 pm

      speaking from personal experience? LOL.

      • .... September 8, 2016 at 6:44 pm

        Speaking from personal experience Bob ? LOL !

      • 42214 September 8, 2016 at 10:00 pm

        Now I know why …. thinks you’re such an idiot.

        • .... September 9, 2016 at 6:17 am

          422.. Dumbob has a problem with the whole world and everything in it

          • 42214 September 9, 2016 at 3:54 pm

            You are very perceptive ….

  • Bob September 7, 2016 at 6:30 pm

    That’s the curse with social media is that some things are better left unknown/forgotten. There’s people we all wanted to forget but may find ourselves looking them up anyways. Often times it is better to not know. The guy here should be worried

    • .... September 8, 2016 at 6:46 pm

      Dumbob advice 101…lmao

    • .... September 8, 2016 at 6:47 pm

      Hey Bob maybe someone can hire you as social media director !

  • Randys Sister September 8, 2016 at 8:28 am

    I wouldn’t lose too much sleep over this at all. I’ve looked up people from my past out of sheer curiosity, including old boyfriends, and I am a very happily married woman. I would never act on anything, I’ve never friend requested or made contact with anybody that would make my husband feel the need to question anything, but I think that curiosity is a very human instinct. What she does with the information that she finds is another thing. If she’s not making contact with them, it’s a very innocent thing, in my opinion.

  • .... September 8, 2016 at 6:55 pm

    I agree completely if all she’s doing is looking them up as curiosity and just moving on its much ado about nothing.

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