The dating world was already difficult. It was already hard to navigate and filled with mixed messages. It was already a land of confusing juxtapositions. It already had its residents feeling like finding Mr. or Ms. Right was nearly impossible.
Then social media happened…and everything got worse.
Suddenly the already complicated dating world was fused with the unexplored frontier of cyberspace and to this day many are still struggling to adjust to the melding of these two worlds.
It is true that social media changed dating. It revolutionized the way many people meet and communicate. It created an entirely new level of exposure that some were uncomfortable with while others basked in its glory.
So how can we all survive the digital jungle that is social media and still manage to find significant relationships?
The key is to realize that social media actually shouldn’t impact your dating life as much as it probably has.
Tweeting about your date, “stalking” them on social media, posting pictures as you get dressed for the date and blogging about your love life are all new behaviors that were ushered into the dating world as social media grew in popularity.
The problem is that these behaviors can quickly tarnish what had the potential to be a great relationship.
When a person “stalks” someone on social media, or researches them by snooping through their profile online, it takes away the need for face-to-face interaction that would help both parties get to know each other.
Suddenly, one might not ask about a birthday because they already saw it online or they won’t feel the need to ask about certain personal matters because they believe a profile online has already answered all their questions.
“Gone are the days when, in order to get to know a person, you actually had to…get to know them,” Thought Catalog’s Sheena Sidhu writes. “You had to dig deep in order to unearth their quirks and pet peeves, their hopes and their fears. These days, people hardly even scratch the surface.”
This has also caused many people to become overwhelmed by the idea of actual face-to-face interaction.
“Worse still is when a person doesn’t engage in social media,” Sidhu adds. “Suddenly, we are faced with the terrifying concept of having to ask them for their date of birth, not to mention the fact that we would be required to wish them in person rather than simply writing on their walls. Suddenly we don’t know their favorite food, what kind of music they listen to, or how many ex-boyfriends or ex-girlfriends [are] in their past.”
Dating in the social media age comes with a slight expectation that you already know bits and pieces of a person without meeting them and without having to actually interact with them to get that information.
That’s why experts suggest that dating in the social media age should involve people doing everything in their power to keep both of those complex worlds—the dating world and cyberspace—separate.
Don’t discuss dates online, sift through their profiles so much that you could write a 25-page thesis on your date before you officially meet them or investigate every person of the opposite sex that likes your love interest’s photos or posts.
As for how to behave on social media to boost your chances of having a successful dating life, it starts with the way you portray yourself online.
Be aware of the fact that the first impression often doesn’t happen in person anymore, it happens on social media.
“Ladies, if your name is @StayWet69 and every tweet details what type of sexual acts you’d perform on your future man, be prepared to not be taken serious,” Vibe’s Niki McGloster explains. “Yes, your DM inbox is flooded, but it’s not with potential husband material.”
“Don’t be so hung up on finding a man that you annoy your followers with whiny day dreams and scenarios that you’re wishing for,” McGloster adds.
The negative impact of this also goes beyond annoying a few followers. It makes potential partners feel as if you are impatient or will be too willing to hop into a relationship with anyone that they wouldn’t necessarily be special to you.
Your social media page should also highlight the things you do outside of cyberspace.
If someone has to get an idea of who you are before they even get to meet you, might as well make sure that information is insightful and accurate—not giving them the idea that you’re a lonely narcissist ready to dive head first into murky waters regardless of if it’s shallow or not.
The dating world and cyberspace are difficult enough on their own. At no point does anybody need the added challenge of both spaces suddenly being dependent on the other. As many have already figured out, that only complicates things.
So enjoy social media for what it is. It’s an additional tool to add to the way we communicate with friends, family and romantic interests.
It is not here to replace the intricate complexities of face-to-face interactions or alter the mysterious formula of the natural chemistry that forms between two people sharing the same space.