Remember the good ole days when secrets stayed hidden until you wanted them to be revealed? Then along came social media and smartphones, and then social media on smartphones, and suddenly the walls didn’t just have eyes, they had cameras, and a direct line to 500 of your closest friends in a cyber-second.
There’s always that awkward space between, “I met this guy” and “I have a boyfriend” when you wonder if telling your best friend might jinx a good thing, but social media seems to have complicated the issue. Ever felt like telling people about the new girl you met, only to have her change her status to “in a relationship” before you could even discuss it? Or perhaps you’re curious to see if your date really owns that business they bragged about, so you send them a request on LinkedIn that you wind up regretting. Maybe you thought that your boss wouldn’t find out that you were dating the girl from Accounting, until she tagged that picture of you cuddled up on the beach blanket together; suddenly the jig was up.
Dating blogger Rachel Russo from 3six5dates.com says, “I don’t ‘friend’ my dates and won’t accept a ‘friend request’ before meeting. I will accept after a date. I don’t want to make judgments based on someone’s page and don’t want them to judge me. I want to keep some things private.”
So when do you kiss and tell? How does our digital life drive our behavior in “real life”? When should you tell your friends that you met someone special? Do you need to tell them face to face or should you just click a button that will spread the word on your profile(s) for you? And most importantly, how and when do you reveal that you met online?
One of my former clients had to answer this question the hard way. As a flight attendant living in Los Angeles and based in Newark, her friends and family had no trouble believing that she met the love of her life (who was a Toronto native) in an airport. That was the story they created and they were sticking to it. But eight months later when things started to get serious and they began to talk about marriage, they realized that they would have to come clean to their nearest and dearest about the fact that they actually met online, or face the prospect of continuing to lie to them for the rest of their married lives.
Discussing your new squeeze with friends and family can often be the point of no return. One man shared this gut-wrenching story:
“Several years ago, I met a woman online, and after several email exchanges, we met in person. Our first date was wonderful, and it led to a second, then to a third, and so on. I had told a number of my friends about her, and was very enthusiastic about where the relationship was going. At one point, after we’d been dating for some time, my parents planned to visit me from out-of-town. I had mentioned the woman I was dating to my parents, so I invited her over to meet them. It was supposed to be a very casual, informal affair. To my surprise, however, she never showed up. From that point on, all of my phone calls went unanswered, and I never heard from her again.”
Perhaps he should have taken the approach of a female online dater I spoke with who advised, “Whether you meet someone online or in the real world, it’s best to leave family and friends out of it.”
Whatever your style, when you reach dating success, you’ll have to fess up one way or another. In the end, it’s probably better to make a choice for yourself about how and when to spill the beans before Siri® does it for you.