Advice from 826 Boston

A few weeks ago, I visited 826 Boston to teach kids about advice columns. We talked about Love Letters and how it works. We talked about empathy and what it means to put yourself in another person's shoes. We talked about considering the other side of a seemingly one-sided story. We talk about the importance of anonymity. And then, when the group was ready, I asked the kids to answer questions submitted by real Love Letters readers (who sent in notes specifically for this assignment). The kids wrote answers, got some editing, and came up with some nice final drafts.

I promised the kids that I'd post their advice on Love Letters, and today is the day. Feel free to comment on their advice and the questions themselves. Please remember that these kids (who are 12 to 18) will be reading what you have to say. (Watch you language, be supportive, etc.)

Hi Meredith:

This one is from an overheard restaurant conversation. If concerns e-ettiquette.

A woman is speaking to her 2 companions and describes how she had dated this guy for a little bit -- in the vicinity of 2-4 dates -- and the dating halted. Don't know who ended it (wasn't really paying attention), but then came the part that caught my attention: He de-friended her on Facebook. She was offended and told her dining companions that she'd sent a "nasty text" to him berating him for de-friending her. To which she received no response. Her friends agreed with her action. I did not, but it would have been wrong to butt in.

My question: Was de-friending an offense? Was the text an appropriate response?

Followup: What are the politics of dating and Facebook?

My view:

The de-friending was probably a shock, but it wasn't inappropriate, since the relationship had ended in RealLife. Leaving unknown the specific RL details, in FB, you are the master of your circle, and there is no offense in ending the connection in the electronic circle if it has been terminated in RL. The nasty text was simply inappropriate.

I asked a couple friends, and was surprised that they thought the de-friending was pretty harsh. Split opinions on whether to bring up de-friending in RL, so I thought this would be a good question.

– Brighton Bob

Dear Brighton Bob,

You bring up an interesting point. Should one's dating life and Facebook be so closely intertwined? What does it really mean to "de-friend" someone? And what is an appropriate response to someone "de-friending" you?

In my opinion, de-friending someone is a rather childish and immature response to the end of a relationship. It is possible, however, that the relationship could have ended in a rather unpleasant, or maybe even violent, manner in which case I think de-friending would be appropriate. But otherwise, I think de-friending someone is just kind of, well, silly.

That being said, I don't think she should have been terribly offended by this. And I think the "nasty text" she sent him was completely unnecessary. From the details you've given me about the situation, I gather that she is not entirely over this guy. Primarily, she's talking about him at dinner. Secondly, she searched for him on Facebook (how else would she have known he de-friended her?). And finally, she sent him that text where she could have just let the whole thing go. I think the text was sent from a place of confusion and unease about the end of the relationship, rather than from her actual feelings about the "defriending."

In a way, perhaps it is a good thing that it didn’t work out between the two of them. Neither seems completely ready for a mature, adult relationship.
As far as dating and Facebook go, I think Facebook is a great place to share positive, and only positive, information about relationships. If you're really excited about a date you went on with your boyfriend, go ahead post it! If you took really nice photo of your engagement ring, I'm sure your Facebook friends would love to see it.

Be careful, however, not to use Facebook as a weapon. Many times when we're feeling angry or disappointed or upset about our romantic lives we feel the need to post our feelings publicly, ignoring the fact that we could be offending some of our Facebook friends.

In conclusion, the world of personal relationships and Facebook is a difficult one to navigate but my advice is, when doing anything on Facebook, carefully think about who can see your posts, and try your best not to offend anyone.

– Nyasha