Social Media, Technology and Dating

Like it or not, social media is thoroughly woven into the fabric of modern life — even if you choose to avoid using social media yourself, it’s a part of our shared social experiences. As with all advances in technology, it makes some things richer and at the same time, more complicated — including, likely, your love life. What does it mean for dating that you can now express interest in someone with a heart-eyes emoji commented on their selfie, or realize from a Facebook post that your crush is finally single?

Getting hot and heavy with a date’s social media

♥ Vetting a date via social media

Speaking with someone in person is still usually the best way to get a sense of whether someone might be a good fit for you. But for many of us, it’s a natural urge to also get a vibe check of their online presence, either ahead of a first date or right after one. It’s best to take this with a grain of salt — after all, our online presences are curated intentionally as a specific version of ourselves, so anything that you react strongly to likely isn’t the full picture. However, there are some things you might see on a social media screening that let you know about a major red flag up front — a partner or kids they didn’t tell you about, political beliefs or ideological views you find abhorrent, etc.

♥ Finding dates on social media — and curating yourself for them

Figuring out where to meet people is challenging for all of us (that’s why so many turn to matchmaking!). Some people find that social media, especially Instagram, can be a more accessible way to meet someone than either dating apps or hitting the bars. The algorithm tends to lead us to people it thinks we’d want to follow, which are often people we have an acquaintance in common with or share interests with. These aren’t bad options for a dating pool — for better or for worse, plenty of relationships have begun via a series of cryptic emoji replies to someone’s Instagram stories.

However, speaking of social media being curated to suggest a specific version of ourselves, some of us can find it hard to be “authentic” in these spaces, and bringing the potential of dating into it just makes it harder. If you’re someone who finds yourself putting on a performance when there’s someone you’re interested in nearby, you may find the same issue coming up on social media. It’s fine to be mindful of potential dates finding your social media presence intriguing, but don’t let it become the fuel for maintaining an online persona that’s exhausting without even showing who you really are.

♥ When to exchange social media follows

What about when you’re actually successfully dating someone? If you’ve been out with someone a few times and it’s going well, you may be thinking about what steps it’s appropriate to take next and what’s moving too fast. One of those steps might be following each other on social media (especially if you have private/locked accounts). How do you know when it’s time? There’s no hard and fast answer; it feels safe to say that the first date is too soon, while a couple of months in is fine. It’s helpful to think about what a worst case scenario of this choice might be — if you and this date fizzle out after seeing each other once or twice and then never speak again, what will it feel like to be following them (and vice versa)? Do you want to see updates on their diet and summer trips, or be faced with the decision to unfollow them? If you post about being laid off, do you want them to see it?

Managing social media while in a relationship

♥ When — and how — to post someone

Once you’re in the swing of an established relationship, social media often becomes part of the hum in the background — you’re both sharing your outfits, your pets, your favorite memes, and so on and so forth. One question that does sometimes come up, however, specific to relationships is the idea of someone “posting you” as their partner — how often your partner makes you visible on their social media platforms, whether that’s posting photos of you or mentioning you explicitly as their romantic partner.

The motivation behind this anxiety could be a fear of being cheated on and wanting your partner to be visibly “taken,” or just an anxiety about your importance in your partner’s life. There isn’t a right or wrong approach to this; if this describes you, you aren’t crazy for wanting it, and at the same time, there isn’t necessarily anything harmful or suspicious about your partner’s reticence, especially if they aren’t a very active social media user or feel anxious about sharing their personal life online. The important thing is to directly communicate and hear each other out about the reasons that these questions matter to each of you, and commit to addressing the emotional needs and wants at the root of the conversation.

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