Surprise: Women are more likely to use <3’s on Facebook than men are! They’re also more comfortable with Facebook PDA in general, a new study finds. But if she’s poking and posting with abandon, how can you flirt back without looking like a fool on your buddies’ news feeds?
The study: More than 200 college students rated the “appropriateness” of different displays of affection—including poking, posting a profile picture with the other person, sending comments about shared memories, using emoticons such as “<3,” writing “I love you,” and adding “love applications.”
Not surprisingly, women rated these displays as more appropriate than men did—and they used them more often. (Related from MensHealth.com: How Facebook has Changed Sex.)
“In general, women are better at expressing and receiving affection because that’s how they’ve been socialized since they were young,” explains Seth Meyers, Psy.D., clinical psychologist, and author of Dr. Seth’s Love Prescription. “Facebook is no different.”
The problem: That difference is a potential landmine of misunderstanding. Are you obligated to respond? How can you show affection without looking totally lame? Here are your three biggest Facebook flirting problems—and how to solve ’em.
Problem 1: You’re not interested.
She’s overly flirtatious—but you’re just not into her.
Mistake: Ignoring her and not responding.
Your move: Just be upfront and don’t lead her on, says Meyers. “Just say that you don’t have romantic feelings for her.”
Problem 2: You’re interested, but she’s embarrassing.
She calls you “pookiepants” on your wall. Three times a day. With a ; ) and a <3.
Mistake: You tell her to knock it off via Facebook.
Your move: In person, tell her that you’re not comfortable with PDA, advises Meyers. But let her know you’re still interested and you’re not ashamed of her. “Take her out with your friends so she knows you’re not trying to hide her from anyone.”
Problem 3: You actually want to flirt on Facebook.
You just started seeing someone, she accepted your friend request, then what?
Mistake: You write all over her wall.
Your move: “People can misinterpret your public expressions as bragging or controlling and think you’re trying to assert your territory,” explains Meyers. Send her a flirtatious private message so you can be yourself without worrying about how other people perceive it. And if you send the first message, she’ll respond to that instead of making it public from the start, he says.
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