A young woman looks at her phone while animated social media icons float across the picture

The social media rules when dating

by Fran Creffield - October 19, 2012

Whether we like it or not social media like Facebook and Twitter are now an integral part of how we form and maintain relationships, so it’s best to know the rules.

Over the last few years there has been an incredible rise in the amount of people using social media to conduct their social lives and it’s not just young people. The 1 billion users are from every social class; they are spread across the globe and are from every age group – the oldest user on Facebook  is apparently 101. The fastest-growing demographic on the service, for at least the last two years, has been women over the age of 55.

It is now unusual to find someone who doesn’t use Facebook or Twitter so it is bound to affect how we date; how we get to know someone and the amount of information we reveal about ourselves in the early stages of a relationship. Given this radical change in how we form and maintain relationships it is important to know the rules so that it is an asset to your dating life rather than a source of embarrassment.

Check out potential matches

Before meeting someone face to face it is becoming common for matches to’ Google’ each other first. This is a simple matter of typing their name into Google and seeing what comes up. The internet has a very long memory and anything that has been in the news; posted on websites – including photos – or comments on purchases from sites such as Amazon will all be revealed. This can tell you a lot about a person and is a useful tool when you are trying to establish that they are who they say they are.

Remember that you too can be ‘Googled’ so it is important that you are aware of the information that is on the internet about you. To find out just type in your full name to Google and press search. If you discover any content you are unhappy with you can contact the website concerned and see if you can have it removed.

REMEMBER: What is revealed on the internet about you could be the first impression a potential match will get so it is important to check regularly and be aware that online activity will stick around for years – you might have changed but your date will never get to know that if they are put off meeting you by what they see online.

Do some digital housekeeping

Beyond what is revealed on a Google search it is a good idea to trawl through your social media pages and remove any photos, status updates or tweets you’d be uncomfortable with a match seeing. Alternatively, make sure your security settings are water-tight if you want to be very private.  Try to view your pages through the eyes of a potential match – what impression do you want to give?

Choose your friends carefully

It may be tempting to add someone to your friends list or contacts before you even meet them – it is a handy social forum where you can get to know more about each other and chat online. Most people’s Facebook pages contain a lot of personal information – photos of loved ones; details of holidays; place of work – even your address and phone number if you’ve made them public to your friends. Obviously you don’t want complete strangers to be able to access this information so it is better to meet someone a few times in person before you add them as a friend or social network contact.

Keep status updates real

First and foremost DO NOT change your relationship status from ‘single’ to ‘in a relationship’ until you are certain that your date is on the same page as you. Even then, ask them how they feel about you doing thatmaybe it is something you can both do on the same day – the first step towards a deeper commitment.   Whatever you post online you need to ask yourself whether you are happy for a date to see it – will they be getting a true impression of you?

Some people tweet or update their status with every little thing that is happening in their day and this is fine as long as you remember to avoid posting when you are angry or upset or very drunk– although it many be good to rant it is better talking to a friend than letting the whole world know your troubles, especially if they are about your relationship.

Don’t get addicted to your computer The online forums are highly addictive and are great for superficial contact but the real business of building a relationship needs to be done in person. Some people get so engrossed with their online activity they forget that it is a tool used for keeping in touch not a replacement for real relationships