Building trust in a relationship is hard enough without contending with exes on Facebook.

Facebook may be a fun and frivolous activity, but it can lead to serious trust and insecurity issues in a relationship. We’ve all over analysed that cheeky post from some random girl we’ve never met, but it’s when The Ex makes a comeback on his Facebook wall that those seemingly small worries start to become a bit more troublesome.

According to Sandton-based psychologist, Debbie Bright, these days Facebook has a profound impact on relationships as it has the potential to wreak havoc where there are pre-existing trust issues. She says that most times a boyfriend contacting an ex on Facebook means nothing more than him being friendly to an old friend.

‘Obviously there’s huge potential to fixate on the lives of previous partners, especially if the relationship is somewhat unresolved,’ Bright continues. ‘Irrespective of Facebook, correspondence with past partners is something that each couple needs to discuss as a unit, and decide on the "ground rules" for their relationship. Some couples are quite happy for their partners to have contact with exes, others not. The key is open, honest communication, and respect of each other’s needs and boundaries.’

Even if your boyfriend is in constant communication with his ex on Facebook don’t immediately assume he’s looking to rekindle an old flame. ‘It could mean many different things,’ says Cape Town-based clinical psychologist, Vincenzo Sinisi, ‘From wanting to keep his options open to wanting to remind himself of how much better his new relationship is. Ultimately, your partner’s behaviour on Facebook will reflect the quality of your relationship.’

While it is possible that your man is just curious about his ex and wants to stay in touch, says Johannesburg psychologist Hazel Kurian, it’s important to be honest about your insecurities or anger and reach a compromise regarding his Facebook liaisons. ‘Worst case scenario is that he’s not over his ex and is still keeping tabs on her,’ says Kurian.

According to Bright, trust either exists in a relationship or it doesn’t, Facebook or no Facebook. ‘If the foundations have been laid for a trusting relationship then Facebook is inconsequential,’ she says. ‘If not, then Facebook may serve as a constant onslaught to relationship integrity, and be the source of endless feelings of insecurity, inadequacy and obsession.’

While Facebook does allow one to chat secretly and has made it easier to stray, it shouldn’t affect trust in your relationship, says Sinisi. Fun, Fearless Forum user, ¬¬_katy_, recently exchanged Facebook passwords with her boyfriend as a confirmation of their trust in each other.

‘He offered me his Facebook password one day as an extension of his trust in me, and I gave him mine too. Now, whenever I feel like peeking into his Inbox, I know I already have his full permission.’

While this can be seen as an affirmation of commitment and a readiness to be open with you, says Kurian, ‘don’t read too much into it, as he could be in contact with his ex via other means’.

It may be a sincere gesture, but exchanging passwords shouldn’t be necessary and may indicate a problem with trust to begin with, says Sinisi. Bright sums it up perfectly: ‘Real trust is not borne of monitoring or policing, but rather the result of honesty, integrity and open communication in a relationship.’

Communicating to your partner about your Facebook worries and ex anxiety is the only way to compose your thoughts and lessen those niggling insecurities.