The 4 Rules of Facebook Dating

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Facebook was my first online adventure. I never had a MySpace page, and outside of e-mail I don’t spend time surfing the Web unless it's for something specific.

When it comes to using Facebook for dating, as I've been doing for several months now, you discover some very specific "rules." Here are some examples.

1. Keep your page YOUR page. Don't be a friend collector for numbers' sake. This is what high school and college students do. Before I started the Facebook Dating Project, I went through my list of friends and made sure I actually knew all of them. If I was going to expose my personal life online, it needed to be for the people that I would be telling anyway. You don't have to friend everyone you meet and you certainly shouldn't be friending every person you go on a date with. I had one date do that and I hit ignore. Your page is your place to express yourself to your friends. You don't want it to be a place where you have to self-edit.

2. Relationship status better be rock solid. Facebook offers a variety of choices about your status like "single," "married," "engaged," "it's complicated" and "in a relationship." On our fourth date, my last boyfriend accidentally introduced me to a friend as, "This is my girlfriend, Angela." That alone made me want to drop dead but she said, "Oh — so this is why you changed your relationship status on Facebook!" "What?" I said. We weren't even Facebook friends yet and he had already declared us a couple online.

So what was I to do? On the one hand I'm thinking, "I'm going to offend him if I don't follow suit." On the other I'm thinking, "In a relationship? We just met!" Two weeks later we became Facebook friends; decided not to date anyone else, and four weeks after that I changed my status too. Suddenly I heard from people I hadn't heard from in years, "I saw you changed your status! What's the scoop?" It was a big and bold statement. And ultimately — it was too early to do it. Next time, I'm waiting until I’m in a solid relationship before I commit to a status. See rule #1 — make your page your page. You don’t have to follow anyone else’s lead. I broke my own rule.

3. Breaking Up. Breaking up on Facebook is worse than telling people you're with someone. One week post break-up with my ex I 'hid' the ‘In A Relationship’ so that it appeared on my 'Info' page but not on my profile page. A week after that, I eliminated it altogether and unfriended him. Once again, people I hadn't heard from in years sent me messages, "I see you changed your relationship status. What happened?" "He dumped me, that's what happened." Dating publicly has its ups and downs. Breaking up on Facebook should and can be avoided by not committing to Facebook in the first place unless you know you’re in for the long haul.

4. The Unfriend. When it comes to "unfriending," please take my advice. As soon as you know it's really over, get rid of your ex on Facebook. There is absolutely no need to torture yourself by obsessively checking his or her page and seeing how they've moved on without you. You don’t need to look at pictures or read their status updates. If you broke up amicably and have decided to remain actual friends, fantastic, but if you have a broken heart, eliminate your ex from your cyber circle as soon as possible.

Right now when it comes to the dating game, singles are relying too much on electronic communication instead of actual talking. More often than not I’m being asked out via text, e-mail and even Facebook message. I went on a date last week through the FDP with a guy who actually called me to set up the date (Don't worry, I’ll keep you posted).

Don't let Facebook be another way of communicating with the person you’re seeing. In the early stages, when you’re still nervous and feeling each other out — the sound of a person’s voice versus their online status update or text — makes a world of difference. And always for the better.

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