Social media has become one of those facts of life, like Mondays being hard and chicken soup soothing the soul. Everyone from grade schoolers to the elderly have social media accounts, which begs the question of whether that’s a good thing. Most men and women I talk to have settled into a sort of rhythm with their checking-social-media behavior. I, for example, check my accounts two or three times per week these days, though I checked them more fervently when I first started using them.
When it comes to dating, social media can be more than a harmless tool to kill time – it can actually screw up relationships. Early in dating, it’s common for men and women to research the person they’re seeing and, understandably, try to figure out who he or she really is, and whether that individual is romantically linked to someone else. For this reason, let’s review three reasons why you may want to pause your social media accounts when you meet someone you like.
You don’t want anyone you like to misinterpret a friend of yours as a romantic interest.
Without enough information, people can jump to amazing conclusions on their own. You see the woman you like with her arms around a man in one of her photos, and you’re automatically convinced that she is either attracted to him now or has been with him in the past. If you keep your accounts private, that’s one way you can prevent anyone who is not yet a “friend” on social media from jumping to conclusions. But that doesn’t the solve the problem of what you do when that individual asks you to add them. If you find someone you really like, consider pausing your social media accounts and feel free to say to the person you’re seeing that you’ve done so to remove the temptation to try to study their pictures and figure them out. If you say this, you won’t seem odd or crazy; anyone you could possibly date knows exactly what you’re talking about. Once you have a relationship that is somewhat established – say, a couple months or longer – consider reactivating your accounts if you wish.
Resist the urge to study your date’s social media accounts.
The beginning period of dating is stressful enough! I understand that you are curious about who this new person is and the social group with whom they spend their time. Naturally, you will also wonder if there is anyone else they’re talking to or hanging out with who might be competition. Remember, however, that any new dating relationship you start has the best chances of succeeding if you come across as confident and at peace with yourself. In other words, the psychologically healthy man or woman who starts dating says this to themselves: ‘Of course, they may be talking to someone else besides me, but I know I’m worth it, and if we are truly compatible, that person will choose to be with me in the end.’
Understand that checking social media too frequently can be a sign of insecurity.
If you meet someone you like and are regularly checking their social media accounts, odds are that you will find some “data” that makes you nervous or causes you to wonder if someone else is in the picture. I believe that the smartest and savviest approach to the social media issue in dating is to not “friend” or add each other in the first couple of months. Don’t even bring the subject up, and if the one you’re dating asks you about it, say that you have had experiences where social media complicates things early in the dating process in the past, and that you don’t want any nonsense to get in the way of the two of you getting to know each other.
The takeaway message…
Pausing your social media accounts, keeping them private, and waiting to add each other until you feel more certain about the relationship are all sound ways to protect yourself early in dating. Don’t play the what-if game, and you will find that you can relax more easily and actually enjoy the process more of getting to know someone new. I can’t tell you how many clients of mine have told me that dating is so much easier when they either stop or pause their social media accounts. You, too, can take control and pause your accounts when you meet someone worth it!
About the Author:
Dr. Seth is a licensed clinical psychologist, author, Psychology Today blogger, and TV guest expert. He practices in Los Angeles and treats a wide range of issues and disorders and specializes in relationships, parenting, and addiction. He has had extensive training in conducting couples therapy and is the author of Dr. Seth’s Love Prescription: Overcome Relationship Repetition Syndrome and Find the Love You Deserve