When do you add a person you are dating as a Facebook friend?
Most of us who have ventured back out into dating in the age of social media have pondered this question. And many of us have regretted adding someone too soon.
This is a question that has evolved since Facebook became popular about six years ago. And it is a question that becomes more complicated when you are dating the second time around. Do you want someone to see pictures of your friends, your kids, your ex and all of your activities for the last six years? How soon is too soon?
Sarah Gooding, Products Manager and dating expert at Plenty of Fish thinks slower is better.
"When it comes to dating, you want to try to reveal yourself a bit slowly,' Gooding said. "Part of the romance is discovering someone... who they are, their past, their present you know, over time. That's part of the romance of meeting someone new."
Gooding recommends waiting to add a date as a Facebook friend until after the first or second date (probably the third or fourth) when you feel more comfortable.
"Your Facebook is really an extension of yourself and so just like you wouldn't talk about religion or politics or your past relationships on a first date," Gooding notes, "you also don't want to reveal that information on your Facebook profile before you've met or just after your first date."
Taking a look at your Facebook page and talking about it with the person you are dating can be a good way to quell judgment according to Gooding.
"If you haven't talked about your past relationships and you haven't yet shared that information with a person, then I probably would have those conversations before you share all of it through your Facebook account," Gooding advises, "because when you confirm, you are opening yourself up to possibly being judged by that person or images or statuses being taken out of context."
Utilizing Privacy Settings
Gooding also believes that using the privacy settings provided by Facebook is a good way to slowly introduce a new relationship to your Facebook.
"If your Facebook profile is covered with pictures of you and your ex, you want to be careful not to reveal that information. And the beauty of Facebook is that you can make some of those images private or you can add someone as a friend and put them on a list that has a higher privacy setting," Gooding added. "When you add someone, you can add them into a particular list. So there's acquaintance, there's high privacy, there's family, there's close friend, so all of those different lists have different privacy settings."
Gooding adds, "Showing every image from the last six years on your Facebook profile is like blurting out every detail of yourself on the first date, so you want to reveal that information slowly over time."
Those of us who have kids usually have a reluctance to expose them to relative strangers on the internet. Gooding notes that the privacy settings can limit that exposure and that everyone has to decide their own level of comfort.
"Some people don't even want, whether it's a new relationship or they are already married, some people don't feel comfortable posting images of their children on their Facebook profiles. So, I think when it comes to children, you have to make the best decision for yourself, and again, the same message, you want the person to discover who you are slowly. That's part of the romance of meeting someone new," Gooding said.
Another good idea, according to Gooding, is to get someone you know to look at your profile and give an objective opinion about what it says about you.
"I think it's a great idea to grab a friend and ask them to help you kind of judge your own Facebook profile," she advises. "Because the truth is, probably a lot of your images are taken in social settings where you may be drinking...or showing a lot of skin perhaps, so those pictures can be taken out of context."
Looking at photos in which your friends have tagged you is another good tip Gooding offers.
"You tend to post more positive pics of yourself," she notes. "You are going to insure that there are no traces of things that you might not be proud of, whereas with photos that someone else has taken, you just never really know what you are going to get. It's important to review your profile every once in a while."
The bottom line
"Many people don't realize how much Facebook reveals until after the fact," Gooding states.
So, go slowly, be careful and know who and what are on your Facebook page.
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