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Dating in the Digital Age: Social Media Etiquette – Part 1

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Now that Valentines Day is behind us, I thought I would explore what it truly means to “date” in today’s digital world.  Do the kids have it right?  What is ghosting?  Should you ghost someone?  How can you stay sane, while trying to find your true love online?  Staying sane is never easy when your heart is at stake, but I am going to give you some advice that just might help you.  Let’s start with some social media etiquette.

When I look at who I follow on social media, it’s friends, acquaintances and some celebrities or influencer accounts.  Who don’t I follow on Instagram?  Guys I’ve been on dates with.  You might think this is odd, but there are a whole lot of reasons why following your ex is a bad idea. I tend to be skeptical about what kind of information I post online.  The whole idea of everyone and their brother knowing about my personal life is a bit much for me. I’ve recently seen Instagram posts that suggest it’s better to not post about your relationship because that’s how you know its real.  But who is right?

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When it comes to social media, in general, there don’t seem to be a lot of rules.  Do you have to follow someone back who’s following you?  Should you follow the guy on Instagram that you’ve been on three dates with?  Is it necessary to share social media information with your colleagues?  The answer to all of those questions is no.  There was a time when I would have said yes because I’m a “nice” person, but my attitude around that has changed recently.  Not because I’m no longer nice, but because I have a different perspective on that.

Which is what, you ask?  I’ve learned some pretty hard lessons over the last few years.  But some of those lessons include knowing what kind of information I need to share with people, and what I don’t.  It’s not easy to get to this place because it feels like you’re excluding people or not being a team player.  But all you’re doing is protecting yourself. 

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We live in a world where all we do is post our business online.  If you go to the grocery store you post about the latest and greatest product that you’ve found.  And that’s great, but think about who’s seeing that information.  Really think about who your audience is.  If you’ve done that and you’re still comfortable, then go for it.  But this is a post about dating in the digital age.  So how do we address social media from a dating perspective?

So you’ve been on 3 dates with a guy, and you’re starting to feel him.  Maybe he’s starting to feel you.  You’re on Instagram and his profile pops up under “suggestions”.  Should you follow him?  Ultimately, the choice is yours, but I wouldn’t.  At least not until I know that things are going somewhere. Think about the things I’ve mentioned above, but now let’s turn it on its head a bit.

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You start to follow him on Instagram, but he doesn’t reciprocate.  Will that make you angry?  Does this inaction suddenly make you feel like you’re not good enough for him?  Does he have a girlfriend?  Because I tend to over analyze, I would pick this to death.  Not because I want to, but because I can’t help myself. When I get these thoughts into my head, it’s very difficult for me not to act like I’m part of a Congressional hearing.  Which can ultimately get me into trouble.  The hard part for me is being able to turn these thoughts off.

That’s one aspect of all of this.  If you’re able to manage those thoughts in a decent way, then you’ve conquered one hurdle.  But what about the others?  What if he does reciprocate the follow, are you going to assume you’re boyfriend and girlfriend?  Are you going to make assumptions about what this “relationship” is?  I realize I’m asking a lot of questions here, but it’s to get you thinking like an irrational person.  (Note – I am not saying all women are irrational.  I am simply highlighting how I can get and therefore am trying to help others steer clear of this line of thinking.)

So you’re both following each other and then you see that he’s liked a picture of Emily Ratajkowski’s.  What do you do?  Brush it off because she’s gorgeous?  Or do you start to make assumptions?  There are times when I have a problem with my boyfriend liking other women’s pictures on Instagram, but that’s my deal.  It’s my insecurity.  Many would say it’s his responsibility to make sure that I don’t feel that way, but I’m not convinced that it is. 

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Is it his responsibility to communicate to me that I’m desired and that he wants to be with me?  Of course.  But I don’t think he should have to hand hold through my insecurity.  It’s taken me a long way to get here, but the point is this – social media is bad news from a “social” perspective.  Ironic, isn’t it?  Social media has been found to cause high levels of loneliness, envy, anxiety, depression, narcissism and decreased social skills. Instagram, specifically, seems to exist solely to make you feel bad about your life in comparison to others.

When you first start dating someone, you don’t need all of that added emotional baggage around your relationship.  If you think you can handle these things – and really think about that one – then, by all means, hit follow. But if you’re insecure like me, and are worried that you will see pics of him and his “best friend”, who also happens to be a girl, maybe don’t. 

Dating in the digital age isn’t just about how to take a great picture for a dating app.  There are so many other things to consider and this is just one of many.  Unfortunately, there isn’t a right or wrong answer with a lot of these.  It’s kind of trial and error, but I do know a thing or two about insecurities and feeling bad about myself in a relationship, so at least take my advice from that perspective.

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