The likes of Instagram, Facebook, Twitter and Snapchat has meant that dating through social media has become a key factor when it comes to relationships.
Now considered one of the more natural ways to meet a potential partner, this new era of social media dating has become the norm.
Whether we admit it or not, social media affects our dating life, from how we interact with someone, what we reveal about ourselves, and how we get to know someone.
It is perhaps no surprise that a new dating trend has emerged – ‘Freeclimbing’.
As defined by website thetalko, Freeclimbing describes:
“the act of searching through a dating prospect’s social media accounts and going backward in their history. This is characteristically dangerous, just as free climbing is, hence the term.”
With nearly all of us having at least one social media account on one of the popular platforms, there are many ways for us to access and find out about a person online before we even meet them face to face.
But how much is too much? When does delving into a potential love interests life using social media become disruptive?
Social Media Habits Revealed
To better understand how social media is used by the general public, Vivastreet compiled a short survey asking the public about their social media habits.
The survey which was made up of 1,000 UK adults, asked whether their social media platforms were open for public viewing or set as private.
Analysing the results, trends showed that overall most people (50%), have their social media profiles on private setting.
However, it seems that the relationship between millennials – a group that has become defined by the digital world and their social media habits continues to differ from other generations.
According to the survey results, those aged 26-35, were the age group most likely to have public social profiles. Considering this generation is most likely to be seen capturing and sharing their lives for the rest of the world to see, this is perhaps not surprising.
Interestingly, the survey revealed that 1 in 5 people do not know whether their social profiles are public or on a private setting – possibly opening themselves up to a potential partner finding out about that one wild week in Magaluf in 2013…
To try to gage how people use social media in the modern dating era, the survey asked if respondents had ever used social media as a way to learn more about a love interest (read also: social media stalking).
Surprisingly, the majority of respondents (60%) answered that they had not. 1 in 3 people however did admit to using social media to find out about a love interest.
Further analysis showed that overall, millennials were most likely to use social media to find out about a love interest, with millennial men (49%), slightly edging out millennial women (37%), as the most likely culprits.
Of those respondents that said they had never used social media to find out about a love interest, 1 in 8 people admit that they would consider doing so in the future, clearly showing that people understand social media spying as a valued option.
Fortunately, if it’s used correctly, social media is a fantastic connecting tool, and not just for millennials as most people often assume.
Here are our 10 rules of dating in the social media era:
1. Make Sure Your Digital Footprint Is Your Best Representation
As well as looking at potential people online before dating, remember that you too will also be checked out online.
As you start to delve into the world of social dating now may be the best time to start some maintenance and housekeeping digitally on your social media profile.
What image and personality are you looking to present to potential dates?
2. Gain an Overall Impression of Your Date Online but Don’t Become Obsessed
You’ll obviously want to check out your potential match before meeting up, and this is where social media dating is at its best.
It’s never been easier to find out what people look like, what their interests are, and what type of person they appear to be on the surface within a few short clicks or swipes.
Yet it’s worth remembering that the only real way to discern someone’s true character is to meet them.
Use their profiles to get a general first impression of them, by all means looking out for any possible triggers or warning signs that their accounts may profile.
However, don’t be tempted to stalk their every move, like, or preference, assuming to know them before you’ve met in person.
3. Learn Online Dating Terms
Thought you may not want to hear any more about Netflix & Chilling or Flexting, by acknowledging and being aware of the vast range of current dating terms you’re less likely to encounter future misunderstandings.
Keep yourself in the loop, and you ensure a better overall dating experience.
Though most may not ever apply to your circumstances, you may be glad you did your homework beforehand for some dates.
4. Set Your Status to Dating When You’re in a Relationship
There’s nothing worse than witnessing your other half swiping right, especially when you’re under the impression you were both off the market.
If you’re both committed to this relationship, there’s no reason why your status shouldn’t reflect this.
If there’s reluctance on either part, you may want to instantly discuss and be honest to save heartache later on.
Some people may just want to keep their options open; whereas some may already be in another relationship and not want to get caught out.
5. Put Your Phone to One Side When You Meet up
If you’ve gone to the effort of finding the right one and both of you have taken time out to meet up, respect that decision and allocate some quality time together getting to know one another each time you meet in person.
Keep it real and be in the present when together, leaving the social media element for when you’re apart.
That also means no selfies every minute.
6. Stay Safe – Both Online and Offline
It can be all too easy to feel like you’ve made a great instant connection and then let your guard down both online and offline.
But, stick to the same safety rules when talking with someone online and subsequently meeting with them offline, especially in those first few weeks.
7. Don’t Rush to Add Their Friend List to Your Account
It’s a good idea to hold off adding people from their friend’s list to your account during the early stages.
If the date doesn’t go well or it all comes to nothing, you won’t have virtual strangers witnessing your next moves.
Likewise, don’t jump to add their friends as soon as you’ve met them, let them add you first as this is often a good sign they expect to see more of you.
8. Make Sure Your Date’s Comfortable with You Posting Photos/Comments About Them
Not everyone likes their lives shown online, and even the most avid of social media users will want to keep some things personal.
Some people do not like the idea of playing out a relationship in full view of the rest of the online world or informing it of their every dating step.
Work to ensure you don’t overshare, and that your time and effort is focused on the relationship in person, rather than the online interpretation of it.
9. Communicate – Even If You Know It’s Not Going to Go the Distance
Despite social media changing the ease with which we date, people’s feelings don’t change, so don’t be the one to abuse it and make sure that you let that person know if you’re not interested in taking things further – rather than ghosting them.
Treat your date with the respect you would expect back and don’t allow social media to change the way you date for the worse.
Similarly, don’t be tempted to berate them online.
Once it’s out there, it doesn’t make you look good or do credit to your online persona.
10. Finally, Don’t Let a Bad Experience Put You off
Whether yours are social media dates or not, we’re all susceptible to bad dating experiences.
The trick here is to learn from such experiences and make sure not to repeat them the next time around.
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