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The Temptation of the Old Boyfriend

By Hildie Westenhaver

As my friend dropped her voice I leaned in, knowing she was about to spill some good gossip. “Shelley reconnected with her old boyfriend on Facebook.” Due to the clandestine overtones of this statement I guessed that this wasn’t a simple update on who Shelley has been friending lately. “They’ve been texting too. Her husband found out but she swears they’re completely platonic.” I groan. I don’t need to hear anything else to know exactly what’s going on.

Shelley is a friend I’ve known forever and a day. We used to be in the same stake and although we never hung out on a regular basis, we always hit it off and enjoyed each other immensely. She is—I assumed—pretty happily married with three youngish children. But the old boyfriend thing? That is a wedge that I’ve been seeing drive its way into marriages all over the place lately. And it’s the reason I won’t friend anyone on Facebook that I’ve ever kissed.

I’m not going to blame Facebook and turn this into a post about the evils of social media. This temptation-of-the-old-boyfriend business has been going on much, much longer than that. I remember as a young newlywed seeing a fellow young newlywed in our ward suddenly leave her husband and new baby for an old fiancé; only to return, sheepishly, a few months later. This was years before the internet was the hook-up place that it is now.

What is it about an old boyfriend? Is it a hope to recapture youth? Is it the wonder of what might have been? Is it like the old lipstick you threw in the back of the drawer because you didn’t like it, only to fish it out a year later and when you try it on you think, “wow! This looks great on me! Why did I ever get rid of it?” Or is it just the appeal of romance before there were diapers and weight gain and crows feet?

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