The Internet is a wonderful if confusing world – and that’s why you sometimes need to be pointed in the right direction. Lucky for you, some of us spend far too much time online and logged in – and that wealth of experience translates into some social networking know-how. Consider Miss Netiquette (who you can reach at firstname.lastname@example.org) your guide to Web manners, and this week, she’s got all the advice on digital romance.
Dating is the worst. There are no rules anymore, everyone thinks they can do better, and even online dating that doesn’t involve getting off your computer is exhausting and demoralizing. Finding someone you’re actually willing to commit to is like finding a needle in a haystack filled with thousands of needles. More needles than you’ve ever seen. It’s tough out there.
So when you miraculously stumble into a relationship, it’s definitely something worth shouting from the rooftops. Which presents another challenge: Social media is our collective rooftop, but if you shout too loudly, you’re going to make all of your single friends want to defriend and unfollow you, not to mention hate you IRL. You might have to seriously exercise self-control, but here are some extremely necessary guidelines for lovers on the Internets.
Dear Miss Netiquette: How long should I wait until friending someone on Facebook? I’ve gone on two dates and she hasn’t requested me – should I pull the trigger?
Everyone loses their mind about when you should friend request someone. Do you think you’ll see them again, like, on purpose? If so, friend away. If you’re going nuts trying to picture who’s posting on their wall, just friend request them. As long as you’ve gone on a few dates and you have a decent rapport, no one thinks it’s super-weird to friend request someone anymore. Now, don’t do a social media onslaught and follow her on Twitter and Instagram and friend her on Snapchat at the same time. Just do Facebook, it’s the most mainstream (and you have the highest chance of seeing pictures of her exes on there, you creeper.)
Another warning: a friend request at early stages of a relationship is fine, but hold off on gushy wall posts. More on that in a minute.
Dear Miss Netiquette: My boyfriend is awesome. We’ve been dating for a month and I’m freaked out by how perfect he is. There’s just one problem: He’s really into posting super-corny shit on my Facebook Wall. How do I gently tell him the digital PDA is too much for me – and getting me so much grief from my friends?
Tread lightly, but hold true to your instincts. Gushy wall posts are one of the scourges of Facebook. First of all, they make no freakin’ sense, just send those sappy greetings in a private message, fools. There’s no reason to do the wall post thing unless you’re trying to show off your love to someone else – an ex, or just everyone who said you’d never find someone to boink you in high school. Any way you slice it, it’s weirdly performative and gross. You seem to be on the same page as me, though – now, how to break it to your boyfriend? Don’t make him feel bad, but frame the conversation in such a way that he knows you appreciate the sentiments, just not the way they’re packaged. Send him something mushy in a private message and say “Write me back here, I like these private chats.”
Dear Miss Netiquette: My girlfriend and I just got in a big fight and now I’m not sure what the deal is. Should I change our relationship status to “It’s Complicated?”
“It’s Complicated” is the relationship status equivalent to an Ed Hardy shirt. It lets the world know that you’re a giant mess with questionable decision-making skills. Wait until you see each other in real life and figure out what’s going on! Don’t let all of your Facebook friends know that you’ve hit the skids. I advise caution in getting into relationships on Facebook, since changing “In a relationship” back to “Single” is always a chance for your frenemies to be like “U ok!? :)” while you sob into ice cream. I think you should wait at least six months to acknowledge your relationship on Facebook at all, just to make sure it’s getting serious.
TL;DR: Never, ever use “It’s Complicated.” That’s the title of a Nancy Meyers movie, not an acceptable status update.
Dear Miss Netiquette: I follow this hilarious dude on Twitter, and recently he DM’ed me and told me he thinks I’m cute. What should I do now?
Twitter is a pretty good way to root out witty folk, but if you want to transition from Twitter friends to real-life lovers, you should ease the transition by talking on other forums online. Ask him for his email address. Or friend him on Facebook, since Facebook tends to have more personal stuff on it than Twitter, so you’ll get to know a little bit about what his friends are like and not just the amazing things he live-tweeted during last week’s episode of The Voice.
Dear Miss Netiquette: I’m gonna break up with my girlfriend of four years. Should I block her on Facebook and unfollow her on Twitter afterward?
When people break up they often say that they want to remain friends but they really mean I hope I never see your dumb face again. If you really never want to see her again than you might as well block her from your News Feed and unfollow her. De-friending is a little harsh, since it suggests that being Facebook friends is uncomfortable and painful for you. If that’s true, then that’s fine – de-friend away. But if you’re the one doing the breaking up and you want her to know you’re just not that into her, you’ll actually get that point across better by just staying friends with her on Facebook, since it says “I don’t care if you see what I do on the Internet.”
If you have any mutual friends and there’s a remote possibility of hanging out or being friendly again, I’d say just block her from your News Feed temporarily but stay Facebook friends. Life is long and grudges are generally shorter.
Dear Miss Netiquette: My girlfriend is a total Instagram devotee. Should I propose to her by putting a picture of the ring on Instagram? I think she’ll love it.
No. She will love it more if you do it yourself like a reasonable human being and then she can Instagram the ring afterwards. Give your head a shake.
Dear Miss Netiquette: I accidentally hit “like” on my crush’s profile picture … from 2007. Should I fess up to creeping on them or just ignore it?
Just ignore it, since they’ll know that means you were combing through their pictures with the intensity of a camp counselor convinced that her newest camper has a bad case of lice. If they bring it up, admit it, but don’t make a big deal of it – if you want to grab life by the balls and actually be up-front with your crush, say “I wanted to see if you looked as cute back then as you do now.”
Actually, don’t say that, it’s mad cheesy, but say something simple and non-stalkerish that lets them know you were looking at their pictures because you think they’re hot.
If you’re too shy to take my prescribed “no game-playin'” route, then just tell them you were with some friends and everyone wanted to see what people looked like a few years ago. That way your crush won’t know if you were the one that decided to look at them, or it was someone else you were with, and they also won’t know how many other people you were aggressively creeping. Congratulations, you just confused the shit out of the person you like!
Social media is our generation’s premiere way to creep on people we maybe want to get freaky with, but it’s really not an ideal place to wade into deeper relationship waters. If you’re hanging out with someone and they decide to skip the “are we doing this?” talk and just ask you to be in a relationship on Facebook, that’s not a good sign. Social media is a great place to get in touch with friends and show people the glossy highlights of your life, but you don’t want to use it as your primary (or even secondary) relationship communication tool – and you should keep your private ups and downs off the Internet.