How to Interact With Your Guy on Facebook: The Thin Line Between Flirty and Stage Five Clinger

You might have read about proper Facebook etiquette during your internship and job search and even during your serious relationship, but if you don’t have time to read either I’ll summarize both: (1) Don’t be an idiot and (2) Spare us.
 
But what’s less obvious is the appropriate Facebook behavior for the confusing and precarious realm of our “unofficial” relationship statuses – that is, everything from the non-relationships, the relationships you wish you were having, and even the guy you briefly flirted with last weekend but you only know his first name, hair color, and a few mutual friends.
 

 
Considering that, say, seventy percent*, of our flirtations occur via technology like texting and Facebook, it’s important to understand how to tread the thin line between flirty and clingy in this uncertain digital world.
 
For example, he might meticulously edit his Facebook page to project the just-right image for his college and high school friends – and I guess future employers – and constant wall posts about how “sexy ;)” he looks in his profile picture and how you left your bra at his place might not be appreciated. Let’s go over the basics:
 
Flirty First Encounter (Regardless if it’s at a Party, in Class, at the Gym, etc.)
 
Flirty: Casually timed friend request 1-2 days later (any later and he might not remember you or interpret it as friend-zone only).
Stage Five Clinger: Immediate friend request, poke, and phone book application request from your smart phone while still standing next to him.
 
Hooked Up For the First Time
 
Flirty: If you aren’t friends, just friend him. If you are, send a message including your number saying, “I had fun the other night, let’s hang out again sometime.”
Stage Five Clinger: Friending him AND a wall post saying, “What’s your number? I bet you had fun the other night ;)” (See below for more on wall posts)
 
Casually “Hooking Up”
 
Flirty: Occasional wall posts and uploading an album with a few pictures of both of you in them. Let him tag himself.
Stage Five Clinger: Constant wall posts about irrelevant things that aren’t funny (“Econ is so boring right now”) and making your profile picture a picture of the two of you.
 
Finally “Official”
 
Flirty: Remove the “Single” status from your profile. If you are ever inclined to change it to “In a Relationship,” talk to him about it first.  Don’t surprise him.
Stage Five Clinger: Immediately changing it to “In a Relationship with [Your Guy]” without asking him and making your profile picture a picture of you kissing.
 

The General Signals You’re Sending to Guys on Facebook:

 
Message: When guys receive something private, it makes them feel special. Guys like Facebook messages.
 
Wall Post: This is an exposed, essential, and very public part of a guy’s profile. Be careful what you say – no one ever wants to experience the shame of a deleted wall post.
 
Tagging Him in Your Status: Never do this unless you are actually good friends and it’s a joke he will find funny – it’s just as public as a wall post.
 
Like: Liking his statuses, comments, or pictures is a subtle but effective way to show you are interested. But only in moderation – and only when it’s something actually funny, about an inside joke you understand, or something recently on your news feed. A photo 300 pictures back on his profile is off-limits.
 
Poke: A poke out of nowhere says, “I have low self-esteem” or “I have high self-esteem and no social skills.” Don’t do it.
 
Chat: Facebook chat is a glorious invention that should be utilized, except try not to agonize over its ambiguity. Did he not respond because he is no longer there, or did he not respond because he is just ignoring you? You may never know.
 
Tagging Photos of Him: If it’s your album or in a group shot where you tag everyone else too, it’s fine. Otherwise, chill out on stalking him.
 
Friend Requesting his friends you don’t know: If your social circles overlap, this is normal. If you have barely spoken to them but know they are his friends, this is weird.
 
And sometimes, it might be better to try to flirt more in person than on Facebook. 
 
*Completely made-up statistic
 
Picture sources:
http://beekay712.files.wordpress.com/2011/04/facebook-relationship-status.jpg

Joanna Buffum is a senior English major and Anthropology minor at Bowdoin College in Brunswick, Maine.  She is from Morristown, NJ and in the summer of 2009 she was an advertising intern for OK! Magazine and the editorial blog intern for Zagat Survey in New York City. This past summer she was an editorial intern for MTV World's music website called MTV Iggy, writing fun things like album and concert reviews for bands you have never heard of before. Her favorite books are basically anything involving fantasy fiction, especially the Harry Potter series and “Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrell” by Susanna Clarke. In her free time she enjoys snowboarding, playing intramural field hockey, watching House MD, and making paninis. In the spring of 2010 she studied abroad in Copenhagen, Denmark, and she misses the friendly, tall, and unusually attractive Danish people more than she can say. After college, she plans on pursuing a career in writing, but it can be anywhere from television script writing, to magazine journalism, to book publishing. 

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