We all know that your “friends” on Facebook aren’t all really your friends. The majority of them are people you think you’ve probably met and since forgotten, and you’ve accepted their friend request just in case.

This doesn’t mean that a Facebook friendship is meaningless, though. Friending a person means giving them both a window into all aspects of your social life AND the ability to give their opinions about it. Publicly.

While it seems that the guy who sat behind you in Geometry is perfectly welcome to such privileges, someone that you’ve been on a date or two with will, and should, be denied.

We have found, however that many folks don’t understand the Facebook etiquette as it relates to dating. Allow us to explain the proper way to tip-toe around this strangely sensitive issue and the reasoning behind it.

The Virtual Introduction… to Everyone

You’ve been on two or three dates with someone. Let’s say, for the sake of argument, you like them and you can see it possibly going somewhere. Would now be the time to introduce this person to ALL of your friends? Your family? Your exes? NO WAY. But, that’s basically what Facebook is, isn’t? A skilled FB 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?

“But What If They Send Me A Friend Request?”

So, you get it. While Facebook is fine for casual acquaintances, it’s a little uncomfortable for casual daters. But, what if the person you’re maybe-possibly-seeing doesn’t get it. They’ve sent you a friend request. Damn them.

Now you feel like it would be rude to just ignore it without any kind of explanation as to WHY. You are in dangerous territory now, friend. You may have to have a very premature relationship-defining conversation. These conversations are difficult to navigate even when they happen at the appropriate time in the relationship, never mind weeks-to-months early.

You know what, though? You didn’t cause this situation. They did. You are therefore completely within your rights to ignore their friend request. Completely.

If you decide, a few dates down the road that you really do like and trust them, you can go ahead and hit the “accept” button. Should they ask you “what gives?” in the meantime, it’s simple: “We’re just getting to know each other here. Let’s do it in person before we give each other access to our whole lives, huh?” Done. If they can’t accept that, it will give you some valuable information about their ability to respect your boundaries, won’t it?

I Know It Sounds Dumb, But Facebook Is A Step

Yep. That’s the state of the modern dating. Talking on the phone as opposed to texting is a step. Gchatting is a step. And Facebook is a step.

It’s not a huge deal, and I’m not going to tell you what the exact correct timing is for each of these moves, but, suffice to say, you should think about it.

But What If You Met Before You Started Dating?

Oh. Totally fine, then. Facebook as a means of getting dates is acceptable. If you meet someone at a party, you hit it off but didn’t exchange contact info, go ahead and Facebook them. But, remember: It’s more polite (read: less creepy) to message them first. AND, if you’ve been on an actual date, prior to Facebook friendship, then you have to wait.

I know. It’s complicated. (Pun totally intended).