Facebook: The new meat market

Don't look for Mr. Goodbar onlineIf you’re single and not using Facebook to meet people, you may be missing the love boat, or so say most dating experts. For the past decade, university students and 20-somethings have been hooking-up, dating, and archiving their lives on the social media site. In the last few years people of all ages have clicked onto Facebook and Twitter looking for love, and causing many experts to proclaim online dating services passé. Facebook is the new meat market.

 
Using Facebook to meet someone is fabulous idea. It is particularly great if you are over a certain age (say 25) and finding it harder to meet “anyone good”. There’s a lot to be said for meeting people you can check out with your friends. Hopefully, they’ll warn you off the bad bets. A good friend is not necessarily good marriage material.
 
Why not pursue an unrequited passion or date some one with whom you share a history? A common past is not obligatory for a successful match by any means. I have been happily married for many years to a man from a different country and background. But at a certain age, it’s not necessarily a bad place to start. At least you should have some idea of what you are getting into — the good and the bad.
 
Dating coach Rachel Greenwald, author of Have Him at Hello, says she is responsible for 726 marriages. She wrote her book after asking 1,000 men in what she calls “exit interviews” why women were or were not marriage material. Ms. Greenwald loves Facebook as a dating tool. She takes a very aggressive approach, suggesting tactics that would make used car dealer blush. She suggests that dating on Facebook is a numbers game, so women should "friend" as many people as possible.
 
Wrong!
 
If you do not know these people they can hurt your personally and professionally reputation. Don’t assume they will want to help you — you don’t really know them. So-called Facebook friends can be as mean and unhelpful as people in the two-dimensional world. There are also people like me — perfectly nice people — who resent being Facebook fodder. I loathe being “collected” by those who are running a numbers name on Facebook, or who just want promote their businesses. I am more than happy to help my real friends promote their business or meet people, but I don’t like being used.
 
Greenwald suggests “cruising” friends’ pages for cute guys and then asking for an intro. This is fine with actual friends, but it’s dicey with mere acquaintances. Many women can be possessive of their male friends, especially ex-boyfriends. I’m not defending it or saying it’s healthy, especially with married or involved women, but it is a reality. And my darlings, this is a case when reality can bite, literally. Be cautious and diplomatic when asking other women to share any males in their lives. Express interest and wait to be offered. After all, you’d wait to be offered a cocktail, wouldn’t you?
 
Greenwald froze my blood when she suggested sending emails or posting your social activities and whereabouts.  I can’t think of a quicker way for a single woman who has friended a hoard of virtual strangers to end up on a slab in the morgue. This is just plain dangerous. It also looks cheap and desperate. And her suggestion to invite your friend’s cute male friends to join you and friends for drinks or a movie is dumb. The male hunter has finely-honed instincts; he knows when he is being chased, and it is not a turn-on. High school should have taught you that men pursue the popular girl. Be confident, happy and yourself – not some scary, needy nimbus.
 
I think Greenwald’s advice will work for women who are doing nothing now. She also talks about status updates, profile pictures, and using groups to reflect your best image. She takes one women to task for giving her age away with her school year. Please! Okay, no one, even 20-year-olds, should post their birth year for many security reasons. But unless the poor woman is going to dump all her real friends for ringer friends and younger colleagues, it won’t take any man more than five or 10 minutes to ballpark her age.
 
I agree with her that an attractive, softly sexy — not cheap or protective — profile picture is essential. Men are visual. But remember in our camera-happy culture, if you go out with snap-happy friends you may see less-than-flattering photos of yourself online. Ask friends to check with you before posting any new pics, and return the favour.
 
Using Facebook to date widens your pool. I don’t like any of the new Facebook dating apps because they involve meeting strangers online. It’s not the safest practice. An introduction from a friend is the gold standard. Failing that, I think it is safer to try an activity like meet-ups or even those 7- minute dating events. Be a human lie detector. Look for inconsistencies in speech and behavior; it’s funny how fast duplicitous people trip themselves up, if you listen.
 
A personal introduction is best. You may be surprised how many real friends and good acquaintances you have. Ask respectfully to meet another person’s friends; they are not communal property. 
 
If you meet some you like on Facebook, get the relationship offline ASAP. Men like to hang on online. A face-to-face meeting in a public place lets you access the person’s words and behavior. Be objective not hopeful. Be friendly, sexy, warm, and open — but not needy. If he likes you he will call or text you. Do not call him first! Do not let him endlessly text, email you, or Facebook you. Remember if he wants to see you, he will. Make it gently and politely clear he needs to start calling and asking you out. A cute way to do this, courtesy of the authors of Flirtexting, is: “Unlike Verizon I don’t have unlimited texting.”
 
It’s a brave new world of dating, but the rules for finding love remain remarkably the same.

Facebook may be the new “meat market”, but that doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy it, be enticing, and flirt. Just remember to be open and honest, and never sell yourself cheaply.
 
 
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