Allow me to introduce a series of posts about The Rules (of Modern Dating). Installment #1 focuses on technology and communication in the early stages of dating.
Can we talk about the rules of dating, 2012-style, for a minute? I just don’t have many single friends anymore, and the rules/dynamics of dating in a world of texting, Facebooking, Twitter, etc. are unfamiliar and scary to me. Seriously, the last time I was doing this dating thing on any kind of regular basis, I still had a land line with an answering machine, MySpace was the thing, and I paid ten cents per text message because I didn’t do it that often.
So, color me overwhelmed to jump back in there and realize I now have to navigate all these new social networking and communication tools, like dating wasn’t tricky enough in the first place. Maybe ya’ll can help me out! Or at least listen to me whine, which is OK too.
Now, generally, I don’t like most dating “rules” because rules are made to be broken and I don’t like people telling me what to do. So I guess I am less worried about doing something “wrong” than doing something stupid. You get me, readers? Here are some of my Modern Dating Conundrums. HELP!
Email: After “meeting” online via your internet matchmaker of choice, you may (or may not, because nothing is simple anymore) communicate via email before exchanging numbers. Sometimes if I am not sure I am ready to commit to a date, I will offer up my email address instead of my phone number. The nice thing about this is that usually you will find out your potential love match’s last name if you exchange emails, in which case you can
run his name through the Criminal Database do a little innocent Google-ing. But it is also easy to get stuck in an email rut. How many emails should you exchange before there is a date invitation? Otherwise, you are just pen pals, and I haven’t had one of those since elementary school. At some point, you need to be willing to meet off-line…or this online dating thing won’t work.
Texting: Once you’ve exchanged phone numbers, your potential date can either call you or text you. Most of the time, guys seem to prefer texting. So far, prior to meeting for a first date, I’ve had guys that have texted me a lot, not texted me at all, and some that fell in between. But how much is too much? How long do you wait to respond? Do I really want a guy I’ve never met in person keeping tabs on me all the time by being connected via text? It’s a nightmare. I guess it’s personal preference, but are there some standard guidelines somewhere that I need to know about? At this point I am just following the guy’s lead, but that doesn’t feel very feminist of me. There must be some generally accepted guidelines for when to use a text v. phone call, response times, etc. What do I need to know?
Facebook: When do you decide to “friend” a potential romantic partner on Facebook? In the case of Mr. February, we were already Facebook friends. I never “friended” any of my Mr. Aprils. But I did check out their pages, if they were public, to try and identify any red flags/possible mutual friends before the date. But if I’d made it on more than a couple of dates with any of these guys, at what point do you extend or accept a friend request? Is it a good idea to “friend” someone before the date? Do you need to have a conversation before tagging them in posts, pictures, etc.? (I think yes, but I am new at this so tell me if I’m wrong.) And when you do make the relationship “Facebook official?” If you’ll remember, Mr. February went Facebook official with another girl about a month after our last date. Personally, I’m not sure I can see myself changing my relationship status unless I’m getting engaged. Just seems like tempting fate. Or bragging. What’s the standard here? I mean, you can ask me again when I’m in love, all bets will be off; but for now I just don’t know that I would be comfortable putting that out there, for public consumption/commentary. I realize that may sound odd coming from your friendly neighborhood dating blogger. Aside from this whole public blogging thing, I’m just not into everyone knowing my business.
Twitter/Linked In/etc: I don’t do Twitter, much to Miss November’s dismay. So I don’t really know how that would affect my dating life. Probably not at all? Mr. April-1 asked to connect on Linked In, and I accepted that. We ended on good terms and I felt OK accepting that request. Unless the date just went all kinds of wrong, I think it is always a good idea to keep your professional connections open.
The Telephone: So, what ever happened to the good, old-fashioned telephone in all this mess? I’m not a huge phone talker-especially for getting to know someone. It can be awkward when you aren’t face-to-face and can’t read the other person’s social cues. I don’t want to spend 4 hours on the phone with someone before I’ve met them in person, either. I’ve even heard some online dating “Experts” say that you should NOT talk on the phone prior to your first date. Honestly, having regular phone conversations is very relationship-y so it seems like that should happen on down the line, not in the early stages of dating. But, I kind of miss the days when the “rules” were simple. Or at least, I knew them and understood them. If a guy wanted to ask me out, he got my number and called me. If you wanted to chat between dates…you had to talk on the phone. If the date went well, the guy should call within 2-3 days to make more plans…or he’s just not that into you. Simple, easy to understand rules for dating. The good ‘ole days.
As I mentioned, I really don’t mind the not-talking-on-the- phone-all-the-time part, but it is certainly more complicated to navigate dating communication these days! Not to mention, like Drew Barrymore’s character in He’s Just Not That Into You bemoans, there are now multiple ways to get rejected via technology. Which sucks, but also eliminates any reasonable excuse there ever was to pull a disappearing act (cough, Mr. February, cough), and makes it easier to at least let someone down via text/email (since you can now avoid strategically calling when you know they can’t answer the phone to leave a break-up voicemail). Again, it sucks, but wouldn’t you rather have closure, even if it comes in the form of an email or text message? (And I’m talking about non-defined dating relationships here, not serious/defined relationships, in which you should obviously have some sort of actual conversation and not a text/email version of the Carrie/Berger post-it note break up, which is unacceptable.)
So, give me some advice! What are the rules of dating in a Facebooking/texting/Tweeting world?