What should you do if you find out your friend's ex is engaged (from Facebook) and you know that she isn't Facebook friends with him anymore?
All of us know people we’d like to know less — but not quite nothing — about. This is why the best Facebook treatment for enemies and frenemies is to unsubscribe from them entirely, but also to occasionally check up on their profiles, manually. I’d want to know if something major happened to my (hypothetical…jk) enemy, but I can’t handle daily updates, because they’re nauseating. The vast majority of people will feel this way about their exes. Never ever be Facebook friends with your ex, BUT. Let your mutual friends know that you want them to be your spies in the event that the ex does something big and/or crazy. This is their job.
If you see that your friend’s ex is engaged, you tell him or her RIGHT AWAY. Don’t for one second think of telling me that you “don’t want to hurt” her. That is a bunch of passive, scared-of-confrontation, bad-friend bullshit. Being someone’s friend means that bearing bad news is, occasionally, your job. You should call (or make plans to see) your friend and let her know. Say, “Dickhead is engaged to that horrible girl.” Use whatever insulting nickname you guys use for her ex. She might not be that upset! She might be. Be patient when she asks for all the details now and, months later, when they post wedding pictures on Facebook. No matter what it actually looks like, tell her the wedding looked tacky, the color scheme was sinful, the bride and groom looked miserable and their hair looked awful, and that your friend is better off.
You know how when someone adds you on LinkedIn (which, like, what do people even use LinkedIn for?) you get a field where you can add random people? Well I love adding random people to my social networks because, duh. What's the least I can know someone and still add them on LinkedIn?
Down the road, within five or so years, you are going to get arrested. You seem like someone who is going to get arrested for something. You will procure a defense attorney, and s/he will visit you in jail to get your side of the story. S/he will take pages of notes. And then, in your trial, when it comes time for your defense, your attorney will stand up and say, “Gentlemen and ladies of the court, my client is innocent, because duh.” You secured this fate for yourself in the question above. It is written.
The thing I’m trying to overcome my reflexive lip curling, eye-twitching confused disapproval to say is this: Your motives are not understood by humanity. You want to add random people to your LinkedIn account WHY? You just said you don’t know what people used LinkedIn for. You said that literally twelve words ago. Do you remember that? Times were simpler then. We shared something in those days — the idea that LinkedIn is, like life itself, often meaningless and beyond our comprehension.
The important thing about LinkedIn that I recognize, but that you don’t seem to, is that LinkedIn DOES have a purpose. Maybe not for us. But LinkedIn does help some people get jobs and make other kinds of professional connections. It’s not Facebook. (Which: Don’t add random people on Facebook either, you strange weirdo.) It’s about work, so adding people you don’t know (and without reason) is just obnoxious. Those people hate you and your emails. What you need to do is read the LinkedIn Wikipedia page. Then, if you have an actual reason to stay on LinkedIn, you can add people you’ve met, who’ve been referred to you by a colleague, or people who are potential mentors in your field. Beyond that, why don’t you just egg strangers’ houses? It’s less annoying than what you’re doing now.
I met a girl in March and we became Facebook friends and started exchanging messages. After a month, I asked her for a date. She accepted, but said we'd need to wait until her divorce was final in Sept. No worries, in the meantime we could get to know each other on FB. So that's what I've done: sent something every other week or so and she always replies back with equal interest. Until this week. I know she's been on Facebook cause there's a new pic of her daughters starting school. How long should I wait before asking, "What's up"? And should I say that this feels like a brush off, but didn't want to jump to conclusions?
In situations like these — and in most situations, really — I tend to look to Shakira for wisdom. In “La Tortura” she sings the Spanish version of “man can’t live on bread alone.” This applies to your situation, all right? Relationships aren’t born of Facebook messages alone. I know. I’ve tried. The great thing about Facebook’s messaging system now is that with just one click I can read the entire span of these mortifying correspondences and know that, truly, I and all other humans should be forcibly taken off the grid when we are harboring dangerous, romantic ideas.
I think you know this, to some extent, and that’s why you asked her on a date. The reason I’m concerned is that the one very large red flag that popped up in response does not seem to have registered as a very large red flag with you. She is going through a divorce, and not only that, a divorce with children. Jumping from dubious (and possibly inappropriate) Facebook friendship to a real-life relationship in these conditions is going to be TOUGH, and maybe impossible. It would be very easy for her to agree to a hypothetical date on Facebook for the future, when she thinks things will be settled, and then not feel that way come September, or even a day later. It could be a while before she knows what she wants.
Since she went unresponsive, you can try messaging her again after a full week has passed from your first message. Don’t accuse her of brushing you off, but you can ask, “Did you get my other message?” You know she did, but it’s just a thing to say and it would be weird to pretend you didn’t already message her. Hopefully she will respond. If she doesn’t, you have to back off completely. If she wants to go on that date down the road, she knows how to get in touch with you.
Katie Heaney is a writer and volunteer text message analyst living in Minneapolis. She thinks you should have good manners, even on the internet.
Illustration by Cara Vandermey