Facebook is the dating world’s greatest gift and its greatest curse. For those seeking companionship, it opens up vast opportunities. It speeds up possible love connections by showcasing the bonds that tend to strengthen relationships: mutual friends, interests and points of view. Because so many users offer an intimate look into their lives through their status updates and photo albums, it’s possible to remove a bit of the “blind” aspect that comes with dating a new person. Of course, this works best when the online persona and the actual person are one in the same, which is not always the case. Most importantly, Facebook is a great place to meet potential partners, but not to date. After a few online exchanges, I think it’s best to meet in person, or at minimum, on Skype.
MTV’s show “Catfish” highlights the necessity of this approach. Each episode features a “love” affair where the participants have never met in the flesh. When they finally meet face-to-face, the outcome quickly becomes a reality check. Someone has used an outdated photograph, while someone else has created an entirely fictional character. I’m waiting for the inevitable episode featuring a married person with a “single” avatar. “You can be whoever you want to be,” said one woman on a recent episode.
She’s right, and that can be a huge problem.
Facebook can also be tricky for couples, so much so that I actually encourage partners not to befriend one another because of the numerous issues that can arise. Twenty percent of divorces involve Facebook and 80 percent of divorce lawyers have reported a spike in the number of cases that use social media for evidence, according to a survey by the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers.
There have been countless stories that cite Facebook as the cause of an affair. There is certainly a wide swath of potential partners available to married users who want to relive their glory days. But here, Facebook gets a bad rap; it didn’t cause the cheating. It just made it more convenient to do (and perhaps easier to catch).
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