Facebook dating may be a bust (their dating app sucks and is only on the phone) but I am here to tell you, friending people on Facebook and starting a conversation might be the new “online dating” the dating sites and apps don’t want you to know about.
Facebook Friends are Connected Differently
I knew when I saw the profile of this young woman I friended recently that she was not for me, relationship-wise. She was too young. A bit too attractive. And was probably a realtor, judging from the quality of her professional photos. But I friended her anyway.
Why am I friending younger and attractive women on Facebook? Am I after them? No. Am I interested in them? Slightly. Okay, John, what’s your point? I use Facebook as a marketing platform. Plain and simple, if I friend people on Facebook it is to grow my audience. Yes, I tend to click on attractive women, and then Facebook (the ever learning platform) begins showing me all the single white women within 2-to-3 degrees of separation, as People you Might Know.
And sure enough, if we friend enough people we don’t know at all, Facebook becomes a bit less personal and a bit more like a business. There are still some personal areas I go visit. (A high school buddy recently passed and I was able to let my two HS FB groups know that the services are going to be next week.) But mostly, Facebook is a way for me to get my writing (this blog, for example) in front of more people. I run several Facebook groups, including one for this blog, as well as a private one for this blog. You can see them both here. The Whole Parent on Facebook / The Private FB Group.
But, as it turns out, my expanding web of “friends” begins connecting me with an infinite number of attractive women of all ages (30 – 60) letting me know how many mutual friends we have. And it’s tempting to click yes, join, friend, kiss, date, connect. Wait? Sorry, I let my words get ahead of the story there.
When Friends Reach Out
So jump to several years ago, I was doing some Facebook “work” when someone I’d known for 5 years or so popped up in my feed. As I LIKED a few of her posts, Facebook dutifully took that signal to mean I wanted more from her. So, before long, this woman’s frequent travel posts were popping into my feed at least a couple of times a month. Turns out I was single at the time. So when one of her posts mentioned the new ex-boyfriend, I picked up the hint and commented on her public post.
DING. A DM (direct message) appeared from her almost instantly.
“Oh, well, hello…”
And over the course of the next week or so we upped the communication to flirting. We exchanged phone numbers. And we began texting and making plans to get together. And this Facebook-connected led to a 2-year relationship. And while the relationship didn’t pan out, the woman and her clear and direct approach on Facebook has always had me looking a bit more closely at the profiles of the “friends” I add so regularly, based only on the rule of more than 5 mutual friends. Add “attractive” and add “doesn’t share profile picture with her husband or boyfriend or girlfriend.
So Facebook is Not a Dating Platform, But…
And while the etiquette for reaching out and connecting on FB is somewhat unexplored at this point, there is an advantage to meeting a person of interest that already has 10 mutual friends. One real connection can validate or invalidate a prospective partner rather quickly. So when this woman connected with me, I was able to talk to someone who had been one of her best friends. “Yes, she’d be great for you.”
And if you look at the demographics, as you add more people like me, Facebook learns and shows more of the same. If you (like me) prefer caucasian partners, that’s probably already baked into the DNA of Facebook’s algorithm about you. Facebook knows your likes, your dislikes, knows what beer you drink, what sports teams you follow. Of course, Facebook watches as you keep adding caucasian single women, that you might be most likely to friend and interact with other people of the same persuasion. To say Facebook is racist would be an understatement. Just Google it, you don’t need me to tell you about it.
But some of what Facebook does is quite helpful if you are single and are looking for a partner. Your circle of friends will exponentially increase as you add new friends. And as more people are shown to you “people you might know” Facebook gets better at predicting your type. So, in my experience, Facebook floods my inbox with more and more potential partners. Sure, we’re not *all* looking for a partner on Facebook.
But If You’re On Facebook and Single…
Why wouldn’t you ask a friend about that cute friend of theirs on Facebook? Wouldn’t you really rather meet someone your actual friends know, rather than some semi-anonymous dating profile? For women, I would guess, that a bit more bio-authentication, by checking with one of this person’s friends, would make meeting for a drink much less risky. I mean, it’s no mystery how I decided to marry the mother of my children, we’d known each other in high school and she was best friends with one of my best friends from 3rd grade.
But don’t troll on Facebook. Be aware that most people on Facebook are not looking for a relationship. Just like in the real world, don’t start up a conversation with an attractive potential with a date proposal. You’re sure to get shut down and labeled as a player. Do ask about their work, or their activities, or the things they post on Facebook.
A LIKE on someone’s post is a very subtle encouragement. Most people don’t pay attention to their likes. A COMMENT on someone’s post is a stronger encouragement. And if they initiate the DM afterward, you are free to begin the normal process of deduction. Again, don’t immediately go for their relationship status, but do go look at it. And know that No Relationship Information to Show does not mean they are not in a relationship. In my case, it means, I’m working my business as a single dad coach (for men and women) and my actual relationship status is unimportant. Facebook doesn’t need to know that I’m single or that I’m attached. But in a conversation with a new friend who has DM’d me, it’s okay to ask about their weekend plans without seeming like a stalker.
We Have So Many Mutual Friends
The positive site of having mutual friends is easy to understand. The downside of all this interconnected tissue on Facebook is that your failure, your breakup with a well-connected Facebook friend could take on a new, less attractive, dimension. One breakup, 4 or 5 years ago, caused this woman to launch a smear campaign to our mutual friends.
While she didn’t label me. She began posting daily about narcissistic abusive relationships. She attended a Narc Abuse knitting group led by an actual friend. I’m sure my recent breakup from this woman, may or may not have been a popular topic at this retreat, but I’m certain of this: she was hurt by the break-up and she was weaponizing Facebook to hurt me. While I did eventually get her to stop the sideways attack, we had to sever all of our social and digital ties. I’m sure our mutual friends are still our mutual friends, perhaps some have unfriended me or her. No matter. But be aware that Facebook relationships and Facebook breakups can be public and dramatic.
Let’s not count out Facebook as a potential dating site, when we use it with courtesy and care. I’d love to hear your experiences from meeting someone on Facebook in the comments. Or leave a voice mail, and tell a story or ask a question, I may use your question for my next ADVICE column or podcast.
When I am presented with a new batch of potential friends I can see the ones who will be unfollowed immediately. They usually have REALTOR or some other tell-tale sign that they too are using FB as a marketing platform. They may also be really cute, somewhat too young for me (were this even an idea crossing my mind), and obviously not looking for an old quacker like me. That’s fine. I’m going to friend them anyway. Let’s see their circle of friends opens up some new avenues for business. Not dating (in my case) but business, networking, and exposure for my writing and books. (wink)
Cheers, stay safe, stay healthy, and use good sense. It’s a viral jungle out there.
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