The advent of new technologies, specifically online dating sites and social media sites like Facebook, have created new dilemmas in regards to dating. One incredibly common dilemma is deciding whether or not you should add your date as a Facebook friend. The solution to this dilemma is far from obvious and depends a lot on specific circumstances of you, your date, and your dating life. Before deciding whether to add your date as a friend on Facebook you should carefully think through the following questions.
How Do You Use Facebook?
Everyone uses Facebook differently. Some people use it only to contact family and extremely close friends. Others use it as a professional platform to support their career. Others think of it as a social platform for communicating with friends both new and old. And yet others use it as a social outreach site where they often make new friends.
These different approaches reflect different concepts of what it means to be a "friend" on Facebook. In one extreme, a friend is a person that you trust implicitly. In the other extreme, a friend is often little more than an acquaintance. Most people fall somewhere in the middle, but wherever you fall, you certainly have a standard for who counts as a friend.
Even if you've already gone on a date, and it went very well, choosing to add your date as a friend is effectively adding someone who is only a little bit more than an acquaintance. This person was a stranger to you until just a few days ago. If that is good enough for your standard of "friend," then feel free to add them. If it isn't, you should probably wait.
What is Your Date's Standard for Friendship?
You standard of friendship is only half the equation. Your date's standard matters as well. It is important to understand how your date approaches friendship on Facebook, because failing to respond to a friend request or sending an unwanted friend request can potentially damage your new relationship.
The best way to prevent a possible misunderstanding is to have a quick conversation about standards of friendship for Facebook before anyone sends a friend request. That should prevent any hard feelings if they aren't identical.
When Should You Add Your Date as a Friend?
Assuming you've decided that adding your date as a friend is a good idea, you also need to work out the right timing. The answer to this question is informed by the answers to the last two questions. If you both are willing to add mere acquaintances as friends, you may want to add your date as a friend while you are still communicating online, before your first date. This can potentially make it easier to schedule a date and lets you learn more about each other. Alternatively, if you both only add people that are family or close friends, you probably want to wait until after one of you has said those three magic words during a date.
How Mature Are You Online?
An interesting fact about online interactions is that many people are much less mature online than they are in person. This can have some pretty nasty repercussions for dating. Poor online maturity can result in fights that harm your relationship or spiteful Facebook posts after the relationship ends. If you're online maturity needs work it is better to simply postpone adding your date as a friend until your relationship has progressed towards something more secure.
When Do You Press the "In a Relationship" Button?
For some people who are very concerned about their privacy, this button will never be pressed. However, if you are comfortable with your relationship status being public knowledge or you understand the Facebook privacy control scheme well enough to make sure that only the people that you want to see this information will ever see it, then this is the final decision you need to make about adding your date as a Facebook friend.
Again, the answer to this question is often informed by the answers to previous questions. For many, adding your date as a friend and announcing that you are in a relationship will be roughly simultaneous. If it isn't, then the best rule of thumb is to announce the relationship online only after you are comfortable discussing it with friends in person. If you aren't using the word boyfriend or girlfriend to discuss your date yet, you probably shouldn't be announcing that you are in a relationship, lest you risk pressing the "Single" button in the near future.