Dating in a Facebook world? “It’s complicated!” to say the least. And a netiquette no-no can put serious strain on a new relationship—or end it all together.
We decided to bring in the expert to help us navigate the shark-infested waters of dating in a social media world. Julie Spira is an online dating, relationship and netiquette expert. She writes about looking for love in a web 2.0 world on CyberDatingExpert.com and is working on her second book, The Rules of Netiquette: How to Mind Your Manners on the Web.
No “Friending” on the First Date
It may be terribly tempting to friend request the guy you met at the bar last night—especially if his Facebook page is locked up tight. After all, how else can you spy on those old photos of him and his ex that he hasn’t gotten around to taking down yet?
But Spira says: think before you friend. Chances are, you’re not on the same digital page yet. And a virtual friendship could ruin your chances of a real life relationship.
“It’s just too soon and you aren’t in a relationship, nor are you even really dating just yet,” she says. “One of you may be dating several people at a time, while the other may be single-focused. If you become Facebook friends prematurely, your relationship may end quickly as well.”
Or it may never get off the ground at all.
“I’ve known women who have cancelled dates after receiving a Facebook friends request,” she says.
Kiss and Don’t Tell
Want to know every last nauseating detail of your second cousin’s first date? How about your boss’s cutesy pet name for his third wife? Not so much, right? Well, most likely your friends aren’t interested in the nitty gritty of your love life either! So keep it offline.
“Saying I love you on Valentine’s Day is appropriate on your sweetheart’s wall if you’re friends on Facebook,” says Spira. “Saying I love you every day and talking about details of your first kiss on Facebook breaks the rules of netiquette. Your friends and you beau don’t always want you to "Kiss and Tell.’”
That goes for your relationship status as well.
“While your Facebook friends will be happy for your new found love, they really don’t want to watch your status change from ‘Single’ to ‘In a Relationship’ to ‘It’s Complicated’ and back to ‘Single’ again,” says Spira.
Related: Are You An Oversharer?
What Happens on Facebook...
The date was fun, you had a few drinks, and it seemed like a good idea at the time. But before you post that funny status update or compromising photo—think twice. Remember what goes online stays there... forever.
“You can’t take it back,” Spira says. “Often these updates are indexed by the search engine. Even if you remove a photo or update from your Timeline on Facebook, it may have already been shared by friends and friends-of-friends.”
Spira’s Top Twelve Do’s and Don’ts of Dating in a Facebook World
1. Do flirt casually on Twitter to engage in a conversation and let the object of your affection know you’re interested in getting to know them.
2. Don’t keep the conversation in the public stream. Send a direct message if you’re following each other and take the conversation offline if you’d like to move the relationship forward.
3. Do check to see if your date has a Facebook profile and if you have mutual friends in common.
4. Don’t send a Facebook friends request until you’re both on the same digital page.
5. Do a Google search to see if your date is really who he says he is.
6. Don’t let your date know that you checked him out on Facebook or Google or it may appear like you’re a stalker.
Related: The Psychology Behind Status Updates
7. Do share on Facebook or Twitter if you’re excited about an upcoming date.
8. Don’t say who your date is or where you’re going on your social networks.
9. Do send a text message to say thank you after a date that has gone well.
10. Don’t only ask someone out on a date via text message. It’s still a good idea to pick up the phone.
11. Don’t change your Facebook status to “In a Relationship” without discussing it with the person you’re dating.
12. If you both agree that it’s time to change your status to “In a Relationship,” do it together on a special date night and celebrate your new digital love stage together.
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