Words by Rae Witte. Photo by Niklas Hamann / Unsplash.
There’s no doubt that following or befriending someone on an outlet such as Instagram, Twitter, Snapchat, or Facebook before knowing them in real life is almost like a subsconscious pre-screening process. A study done in 2015 suggests that nearly 21% of couples that started dating 2005-2012 met through social media. What I’m about to say is not for those people.
For those of you among the 30% of internet users 18 to 29 that are not (yet) using dating apps to meet their significant other, for the current object of those people’s affection, for the recipient of all of your best memes, for the rare lot of you that meet strangers in public without the buffer of a quick Google search, I’d like to make a case for waiting to be social media friends with someone you’re planning a date with or casually dating.
I would highly recommend finding their profile and doing a quick but thorough look to make sure they aren’t into anything blaringly problematic or in a relationship already, but I implore you to leave it at that. Lurk far, far away and don’t return, for now.
First and foremost, just because you guys have good banter through a dating app or fun text conversations does not automatically equate a desirable experience will happen in real life. Connecting before your first date doesn’t seem like a good idea–what if your first date goes horribly? In my opinion, it should be just as taboo as sleeping together on the first date once was. By connecting on social media you either indefinitely stay connected to this person you barely know and have little interest in getting to know further or you disconnect from them essentially saying you do not give one fuck about their life, all of which could be avoided by not connecting to this person in the first place. You don’t have to send a friend request to every single person that swipes right on you. A recent survey reported social media having negative effects on teens’ and young adults’ mental health. It’s helpful to be hyper-selective on who you follow, and new people you say “hey” to on a dating app once do not need to be part of this exclusive group of accounts you regularly engage with.
Without knowing them very well, it may lead you to make unfounded judgements of them by the way they choose to curate their profile.“
Should you make it beyond the first date and hang out a couple times, remaining unconnected will allow for organic conversations rather than discussions led by what you saw on their Snapchat account or Instagram story. You’ll be able to talk about your feelings on what’s going on in the news or regarding timely stories about topics you care both about without having seen their stance posted on Twitter already.
Some people use their social media for work thus their online persona, no matter how authentic, is deliberately curated to exhibit how they choose to represent themselves. Without knowing them very well, it may lead you to make unfounded judgements of them by the way they choose to curate their profile to attract the people that put money in their pocket.
Do you want their best friends asking about you or lurking you when you are not sure about the length of this person’s stay in your life?“
While not all of us utilize our social media for work, their profile may also offer a more in depth view of their life. You’ll be liking and commenting alongside everyone from total strangers to moms and best friends. Do you want their best friends asking about you or lurking you when you are not sure about the length of this person’s stay in your life?
On the other hand, if you have itchy scrolling fingers, you might end up weeks deep in their friends’ profiles. An accidental like 43 weeks deep in their profile is overcomable. An accidental like 43 weeks deep in their best friend’s profile is not.
Albeit tough to admit, should you be prone to jealousy or be the type to feel a little insecure about the attention your crush receives online from others, this is another reason to exercise restraint and not hit that follow button. You could end up with 72 weeks of content and potential exes to compare yourself to. Nobody wants this. Further, if you do have questions about things that might rub you the wrong way, there is little chance you are not going to look utterly insane bringing up this person’s past to them. You just met!
It’s a lot easier to forget a shitty first date when this person’s brunch pics and selfies aren’t running through your timeline“
It could be argued that a lot of how we perceive how someone represents themselves online is truly a reflection of ourselves, so the next time you match with someone that’s halfway interesting on Tinder, consider keeping the connection to between you and them until you figure out whether you’re going to date, be friends with benefits, master the friendzone together, or wish to forget they even exist. It’s a lot easier to forget a shitty first date when this person’s brunch pics and selfies aren’t running through your timeline every four pictures.