Facebook can be a quagmire, and Instagram and Twitter the evil stepsisters of social media — especially when it comes to dating. We've all seen how Facebook ruins relationships, but it even can damage situations before they start. It’s safe to say that it’s a bad idea to contact a potential romantic interest via this dangerous trio of online platforms, but people do it every day. It would probably be smarter to Snapchat someone you like than to send them a casual message asking, say, what they’re up to on Saturday around 4.
The act of sniffing around on social media for a date is rife with possible pitfalls, and there’s no reason to put yourself on blast in the name of love (or hit the “like” button one too many times in the name of a crush). For starters, there is such a thing as spending too much time on someone’s page; to go a step further, if you’re hell-bent on starting something up online, I’d suggest that it’s better to cast your nets in a more appropriate setting (OkCupid, Tinder, wherever else the kids are dating these days) to ensure that the person you’re sweating is also at least available, if not interested.
There are exceptions to every rule — once upon a time, I may have wound up dating someone after an ill-advised Facebook message. But that was years ago, and it didn’t wind up working out. I’m not on Facebook anymore, and I find my life to only be richer for it. But if you’re still on there — or if you’ve found yourself stalking someone’s Instagram or Twitter feed lately, working up the courage to reach out — here are a few people I’d advise against contacting, to save yourself some grief and unnecessary anguish.
1. Your Ex
This is an obvious one. Whether you’re thinking about rekindling an old flame or just want to say hello, Facebook is the wrong arena for this. Just don’t do it.
2. Your Ex’s Best Friend
Perhaps now is the time to avow your undying desire for that sexy guy or girl who was always lurking around with you and your ex. But it’s unlikely that a message on Instagram is the way to go. There are so many other, superior ways to drop a line — starting with a good, old-fashioned text message.
3. An Old Crush
This is a tricky one, because if that person from P.S. 3 who sat across from you in the cafeteria every day in sixth grade just found you on Facebook, it’s probable that’s the only way you can contact them. Don’t just dash off a flirty message, though — there are too many variables at play here, even if you’ve properly stalked their profile and are certain beyond a shadow of a doubt that they're single. If there’s no talking you out of this one, see if they want to have a coffee “to catch up on the old days,” see if there’s any chemistry, and take it (offline) from there.
4. The High School Teacher Who Hits On You Via Facebook
Warning: Do not respond! Do not encourage this type of behavior, as encouragement will only be read as reinforcement, and before you know it, you might find yourself having a drink with your fifth-period physics teacher. This kind of unsolicited messaging happened to me once, and although I really liked this teacher when I was a student, I didn’t love his idea about having a beer à deux.
5. Anyone Publicly
For the love of all that is holy, if you’re going to hit on someone, be sure to do it in a direct message. If it’s ultimately a fail, at least you’ll only be humiliated privately; and if your message sparks a flurry of witty banter and a date, all the more reason to keep it under your hat at the outset.
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