What's The Facebook Etiquette For Hookups?

by Emma McGowan

Hookups and Facebook are two integral parts of the dating scene in 2017 — but should the two ever be combined? That’s the question my best friend and I were pondering over overpriced cocktails recently. Both of us have been on Facebook for most of our adult lives. Back when we were in college, the idea of Facebook etiquette would have been laughable but, today, it’s a very real issue. What’s the etiquette around Facebook and hookups?

While I haven’t been hooking up with anyone for a few years now, I remembered living in Argentina and having guys asking for my Facebook info even before anything happened. It was like the 2012 equivalent of asking for a phone number and I was not into it. There as no way I was going to give these strangers a view into my life! But when it came to hookups, I was too nosy to not friend them. I’ll admit it: I’m an excellent Facebook stalker.

My BFF, on the other hand, has a “only if he seems like he might actually be interesting outside of the bedroom” approach to friending hookups on Facebook. It’s very practical, just like she is. She fully admits that some hookups are just quick fun, while others might contribute more to her life. She’s much less sentimental (and also probably less nosy) than I am.

So I think it’s safe to say that everyone has their own views on Facebook etiquette around hookups. I mean, honestly, Facebook etiquette in general seems pretty nebulous still, so it’s unsurprising that we’re not totally sure about the etiquette around hookups. However, there are still etiquette experts in 2017 and I turned to two — New York Times columnist and author of the book Would It Kill You To Stop Doing That? Henry Alford and Lisa Gaché of Beverly Hills Manners — to find out what the official etiquette around Facebook and hookups is.

Should You Friend A Hookup?

Both Gaché and Alford agree: It’s generally not a good idea friend a hookup. Alford tells Bustle that Facebook friendship is just TMI at the early stages (or, in some cases, only stages) of something. “It's a terrible idea to friend a hookup or one-night stand on Facebook,” Alford says. “That's something you should do only if you become genuine friends. I wouldn't advise it even during the early stages of dating — you’ll only look at [their] face and be reminded of the awkward 90-second silence during your first date, and how [they] listed all [their] siblings twice in conversation.”

"The mystery is lost and your hookup partner may get the wrong impression"

Gaché thinks that it’s best to avoid all social media of a hookup because, well, it kind of ruins the magic. (This has totally happened to me, by the way.) “The purpose of a hookup or one-night stand is just that — a passionate 24 hours and then a disappearing act,” Gaché tells Bustle. “If you are able to then follow someone on Facebook or social media for eternity, the mystery is lost and your hookup partner may get the wrong impression that you are interested in pursuing something more.”

However, if you really feel like you need to friend that one-night stand, Gaché says that there’s clear etiquette around that too. “It’s a good idea only if your suitor suggests it,” she says. “There is typically one person in the relationship that is the pursuer and they should be the one to mention Facebook. If they do not bring it up, they may not be interested in pursuing a relationship on social media and the hookup partner should honor that.”

Is It Impolite To Turn Down Or Ignore A Friend Request From A Hookup?

On this one, the experts are split. “There’s no harm in accepting a friend request on Facebook after a one-night stand or hookup,” Gaché says. “This is a respectful and decent gesture. After about a month’s time, if you are uncomfortable with the idea of maintaining communication via social media, you can always unfriend them.”

Alford, on the other hand, thinks it’s totally fine to ignore a friend request from a hookup.

“Everyone has her own policy regarding who she friends — some people are profligate, and include their yoga teacher and the stranger who found their wallet in the mens bathroom urinal; others are selective, and want to have shared a workplace or a gene pool with you,” Alford says. “If you have warm feelings toward this person, and you two covered some personal ground together during your date, why not write him a message and say, ‘Ack, I'm so sorry! I stopped friending people because it has complicated my life’ or some such thing. You'll both feel better.”

But What About Unfriending?

Of course, not all hookups are with people we don’t know. Sometimes we hook up with friends or friends-of-friends — one 2002 study found that 67 percent of hookups happen at parties. So what if you hook up with someone you’re already friends with on Facebook and afterward are feeling a bit of buyer’s regret? Alford says: It’s nasty to unfriend.

“That's sexual rejection via delete button,” Alford says. “The sooner after the sex that you unfriend, the ruder the act. Sure, if you wait a long period after the hookup — a long period during which you have no contact with him — then it seems alright. Churlish but alright. (Unless, of course, they did something offensive. Then unfriend immediately.) By long period, I mean six months or more.”

Gaché, however, thinks that the unfriend option is there for a reason. “As with anyone who may be invading your privacy or prying into your personal life, it is not impolite to defriend someone on Facebook,” she says. “But you should have a good reason.”

So the etiquette experts aren’t on exactly the same page when it comes to Facebook etiquette for hookups. Ultimately, if you’re not sure what to do when it comes to friending or unfriending or ignoring a friend request from a hookup, go with the Golden Rule: Do unto others and you would have done unto you. That’s always a good barometer for etiquette, no matter the context.