Relationship coach Marni Battista explores a relatively new area to deal with in the dating world — Facebook. Below, she shares insights as to when you should change your single status, and how to handle your persona online.
When it comes to dating, Facebook can be the new “elephant in the room.” And, it’s your choice to make it a BIG issue or a small one. Dating with Dignity has come up with some important dos and don’ts regarding how to deal with Facebook when it comes to dating.
Do: It’s okay to look up a potential date on Facebook to see if you have any mutual friends. Sometimes this can be a legitimate background check to see if you have anyone or anything in common. You may have tons of mutual friends; and if you respect the people in your circle, you can make a safe assumption that the person you’re going to date has some basic “musts” in order.
Don’t: First, while you may have friends in common, don’t inbox each person to get the “low-down” on your date. Remember, their experience of him/her is only their experience. And, since you don’t want to make any assumptions based on someone else’s approval (or disapproval), don’t even ask. In order to go into the date truly open to discovering whether or not this person is a match for you, it’s best to go in with a completely open and unbiased mindset.
Don’t stalk your date’s profile before you meet and then casually mention you noticed he/she went on a family vacation to South Carolina a few years ago and that your family stayed in the same hotel! The follow-up comment (“How weird, right?”) can only be interpreted as just that: SUPER weird. Facebook is for sharing with “friends.” You’re not there yet, so don’t try to find common ground by playing detective prior to the date.
Do: Have a conversation once you’ve made the decision to date exclusively if you’re going to change your relationship status. Maybe you’ve never changed your relationship status before; but if your partner is bothered by the fact that your profile page says “single,” it’s probably a good time to discuss whether or not you’re going to change it.
While we’ve debated the timing of this conversation frequently at Dating with Dignity, it’s clear that men and women have a different “value” around the status-change dilemma. Men we interview say that the change should come after or near the six-month mark, while women tend to favor a change in status around three months. What’s most important is that you have the conversation, understand why it’s important to both of you, be willing to compromise, and come up with a total win-win solution together.
Don’t: Do not friend someone immediately after talking to them online, or even after dates one, two or three. Allow the relationship to evolve. You’ll make yourself crazy if you begin Facebook-stalking someone and interpreting every single comment he makes or status update he posts. You’ll find yourself questioning if women who comment/post on his page are “just friends.”
In addition, you want to get to know him in real time. It’s impossible not to take in information from his Facebook profile and make assumptions based on the “image” he portrays online. Do yourself a favor and get to know him in real time and in person. Also, please don’t change your relationship status after two weeks of dating because you just know he’s “the one.” Just don’t.
Do make Facebook a platform to show the world what you’re up to. Posting pics of your recent trip to Peru? Awesome. Maybe you had an amazing meal that you want your family back East to see. Great! Make sure that you portray an authentic picture of yourself through your posts, comments, and pictures. Remember that your Facebook profile is, in effect, your social persona. Since it’s akin to creating a character, make sure the picture you paint is accurate.
That said, don’t post negative dating stories (even if you think it’s funny), fear-based thoughts, extreme political views, or pictures that reflect a lifestyle that may not be attractive to a mature man or woman who is relationship-ready. The world is watching. Who do you want them to see?
Don’t make Facebook your personal journal that details every thought that passes through your head. That’s what phone calls with close friends are for, and an actual journal is the perfect forum for this. Unless you have privacy settings that ensure only close friends and family can view what you post, keep your innermost thoughts off of the Internet.
Do feel free to post pics of you and your significant other. If you and your sweetie had an amazing day at the beach, posting pics of the two of you watching sunset is nice. Before you post, make sure you ask if it’s okay to “tag” him rather than just tagging away and assuming he or she won’t mind.
Don’t be the person who fills up other people’s newsfeeds with daily lovey-dovey posts between you and your sweetie. We get it; you two are blissfully in love. Be in love together, alone, or better yet get a room! Whatever you do to express your love to the world, make sure you keep what’s public appropriate and not too personal.
Learn more about Marni Battista and Dating with Dignity!