By Julie Spira
Online Dating has truly evolved into a social dating experience. Singles are dating and flirting in a digital world, which means their love lives include texting, sending emoticons and emojis, friending and liking comments on Facebook, flirting on SnapChat, and even following each other on Twitter.
So with this big digital bouquet of ways to stay in touch, how do you use social media, without overusing it when you just start dating someone new?
As an online dating expert and one who coaches singles on the marriage of love and technology, one thing I know for sure, a blended formula of both electronic communications, phone conversations, and in-person meetings will create a spark and keep the relationship alive once you become a couple.
So I am saying it’s acceptable to request a date via text message only? No, certainly not at all. For those of us 45 and over, a more traditional approach to courtship is usually part of our dating regime. Whether you met online or spotted each other from across a crowded room, once you’ve established chemistry and have his or her phone number, sending a friendly text message to say you’re thinking of them, or enjoyed meeting them leaves a sweet digital footprint to start your relationship. When it comes time to actually make plans to get together, I do believe more bonding will occur once you have the phone date and talk about where you’d like to meet.
Once you’ve established that you’d like to communicate with someone you’re interested in dating, what happens with your social media accounts? While it’s human nature to take a digital peek at his or her Facebook profile, should you send a friend request or follow them? Should you stalk their page to see which friends you have in common and common interests and likes?
There is no simple answer to this question. First of all, I don’t recommend that you send a friend request to someone before you’ve even met him or her for a first date. While you might think this is social media friendly, it could be perceived as crossing a digital boundary, and make them feel uncomfortable. After all, you’re both single. You’re both dating, and you certainly aren’t exclusive just yet. I’ve seen too many assumptions being made by those who have spent too much time on another’s Facebook page. From starting at pictures of his or her ex, to spending time wondering where they are when they don’t answer your call, it’s enough to cause a social media anxiety disorder and a premature breakup, before you’ve even had the chance to get to first base.
Until you’re on the same digital page and have become exclusive and Facebook official, there’s no reason to become friends. There are exceptions to the rule. If you started off as friends first and then somehow that friendship turned into a dating situation, it’s hard to unfriend the person who has been flirting with you and liking your posts for the past two years. In this case, I urge you to avoid staring at his or her profile until you see where your relationship goes.
Remember, it’s a man’s job to make a woman feel safe in a relationship. If he sends you a friend request, just let him or her know that you only add friends when you’ve gotten to know them well and that your Facebook page isn’t for casual friends. Once you do become friends on Facebook, it’s flattering to “like” an occasional post of your new friend, as long as you don’t go overboard with the likes and comments.
At the end of the digital day, use your cellphone and social media accounts sparingly until you’ve had the talk with the person you just started dating to hear what their thoughts are about how they like to communicate. It’s never been easier to flirt with a potential date, online and offline.
Wishing you much love and joy in cyberspace, or wherever you may roam. xo