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Avoiding Old Flames on Facebook

That it's only a virtual friendship is all the more reason to stay away from it.

Toward the end of spring semester, I set a box labeled "I Always Wanted to Ask" on the table at the front of my class. I invited students to write down lingering questions about sex and gender, the subject of our course at Messiah College. A panel comprising five students and me, the professor, responded to all the questions. A classic one emerged: "Can men and women be 'just' friends?" It elicited a classic response. "Yes," I said, "but only by taking romantic potential into account in some way. And no, if the man and woman have been romantically involved with each other." Most students advocated for platonic friendship and kindly pointed out that the world has changed since the dinosaur age in which I came of age.

I won't rehearse the dialogue that ensued, but I'm slipping a related question into the box: Is it wise to "friend" old flames on Facebook?

Three old flames have flared up recently (and I only have so many, so it's an unusually active season). I corresponded with one, a single ...

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