By Sarah Gooding, PlentyOfFish
It’s bound to happen on the singles circuit. Sooner or later, your Facebook and online dating profiles will collide. So what should you respond when an acquaintance from an online dating site sends you unsolicited friendship request?
Before you hit confirm, you should realize Facebook requests carry more weight than most people realize. Unlike your online dating profile, which has only a few paragraphs and 4 or 5 photos, your Facebook page is full of history that can give a future date the wrong impression.
You may not realize it, but your comments, photos, status updates, likes, interests and choice of friends all reveal insight into your personal life. They can also cause potential dates to make unfair assumptions about your ability to love or commit. Do you really want a future date to generalize your life from a few photos taken at the beach with friends?
As the Product Manager for the world’s largest online dating site, Plentyoffish, I live and breathe relationships. My job is to discover why some online relationships develop and blossom, while others fail.
One of the things I recommend to all singles – online and in the real world – is don’t reveal everything at once. Every relationship needs some mystery. There is a dance to dating and if you reveal everything to a potential date – before you even go on a date – you risk alienating him or her before the night has even started.
Connecting on Facebook is different from connecting on dating sites. While you can tailor your dating profile to reflect whatever you want, your Facebook is influenced by more than just you. If you’re like me, friends tag you in things all the time and you’re too lazy to untag yourself. You’re more open on Facebook, and you haven’t updated some sections in months. Be careful--- that little white lie you forgot you posted on your dating profile (remember how you traveled Europe?) will instantly be revealed on your Facebook.
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Accepting a Facebook request gives strangers a virtual introduction to everyone in your life. So how soon is too soon to add someone? I recommend meeting someone in person before you accept them. A skilled Facebook stalker will be able to determine the length and seriousness of every relationship you’ve ever had. Don’t you want a bit more of an assurance that they’re going to respect your boundaries before giving them the master key? Give it a date or two before you take the big leap.
How should you respond to an unsolicited Facebook request from an online acquaintance? I always fell into this trap and accepted everyone until I learned: this is the Internet where I can do what I want. You didn’t cause this situation. They did. You are therefore completely within your right to ignore their request. Wait until you’re comfortable with this person. You can always accept the request later down the road. If you must accept the request, take advantage of your privacy settings so that you don’t reveal your entire history at once.
Facebook and online dating can be similar in many ways, but that doesn’t mean the same rules apply. Your Facebook and online dating networks should be treated separately until you are ready to reveal more. Be prepared for what comes next after hitting confirm.