Let’s face it — social media is inescapable these days, and from a courtship and dating perspective, it has changed the game completely.
Instead of waiting for someone to call you after few dates, you are waiting for a new follower on Instagram or Twitter, or — even more invasive — a friend request on Facebook. With millions of people now using social dating sites and applications, you are likely to go into the first date already knowing their profession, interests, and maybe even their favorite quote. This preemptively removes some of the mystery in the process of getting to know someone, and from my experience, takes typical first date conversation and accelerates it into second or third date territory.
This is just part of the reality of the world we live in today, and it isn’t necessarily a negative thing. I live in New York City, am busy like everyone else here, and because of that, I have reached a point in my life where I like knowing what I am getting myself into; i.e., knowing that I am giving up a spin class for a guy who appears somewhat stable (at least via the digital powers that be).
The blessing and curse of the union of technology and dating is that you can meet someone with one swipe. This means the opportunity to meet Prince Charming is as simple as turning on your phone, but at the same time, it has the capacity to devalue people by turning human beings into players in a game. As a result, many people have developed a different version of ADD(D) (Attention Deficit Dating Disorder), making it nearly impossible to focus on dating just one person when there are hundreds of other options literally waiting inside your phone.
Don’t get me wrong, I don’t think there is anything bad about dating multiple people at one time and exploring the chance to figure out what you want from a partner. I do, however, feel that (especially for safety reasons) once you start sleeping with someone and spending more and more time with them, it becomes your responsibility to talk about what you expect from that person and DTR (define the relationship). People are on Tinder, Hinge, Match, etc. for many different reasons, and you can never enter the situation assuming they are looking for the same thing as you.
Now, let me get off my soapbox about technology and dating, and help you understand how this gets back to my main point. Adding social media into the mix of dating can make things messy, stressful, and sometimes catastrophic. Sure curiosity is banging down your door, and yes, you’d love to size up ex-girlfriends on your new interest’s Facebook page or scroll through their Twitter feed to gauge whether or not their humor translates into 140 characters, but take it from me — don’t do it.
It’s a slippery slope that can be all-consuming when you are monitoring their every check-in on Foursquare and seeing their friends post pictures of them with their arms around other girls. “Is that his sister? I thought he said his sister lived in Chicago. WHY IS HE TOUCHING HER WAIST LIKE THAT?!”
There is an element of wonder and elusiveness before you really know someone that quickly dissipates when you get hungover Snapchats from them and can no longer fantasize that they are at the farmers market buying fresh ingredients to bring over and make you brunch.
I’ve personally experienced many sleepless nights after seeing a guy I really liked checking into fancy restaurants and Instagramming late on a weeknight outside his borough. I lost hours of my life wondering who he was with and what he could have possibly been doing in Queens on a Wednesday night.
Dating in a metropolis like New York is already complicated and stress-inducing enough as is. I believe that part of getting to know someone is getting to know them on their own time — and yours too. Maybe you don’t want them to know immediately that you just came out of a six year relationship and had your heart crushed to pieces, or that you lived abroad and are currently suffering major reverse culture shock.
The beautiful thing about getting to know someone (and not just in a romantic way) is that over time the layers of who they are, and who they want you to see them as, are slowly revealed. Each new encounter offers us a chance to start fresh and present the best version of ourselves, or who we are trying to be, to another person. But with social media involved, these chances are riddled with preconceived notions often created by a false understanding of the people we portray ourselves as online or who we were ten years ago (thanks Facebook for for coming into existence during my chubby years in college).
I know this presents cause for an argument that getting all the information up front could prevent heartache and perhaps stop some relationships in their tracks before they even happen. For now, I am holding to this and letting the optimistic California girl inside me stand my ground.
People deserve to paint a picture of who they are, in the moment they are in their life, through whatever process they feel comfortable using. So no, I don’t want to be your friend on any social media platform. I want to date you, and if it doesn’t work out, I never want to see you again…especially not in my newsfeed.