Should I Be Facebook Friends With A Guy Before He Is My Boyfriend?

A few years ago, after I broke up the love of my life, I had a really hard time removing him from my life, but the online part stung the most. I can throw an object away pretty easily, but de-friending and deleting someone from my entire online life – Facebook, Flickr, LinkedIn, not to mention hundreds of saved emails and dozens of sweet and funny text messages – hurt so much because it was almost like I had to relive our entire relationship over again or face the possibility of a status alert or old email catching me off-guard. It sucked and I never wanted to have to do that again.

After that, I decided that I will never be Facebook friends with someone I’m dating…at least until after we’re in a committed, exclusive relationship. I also won’t follow them on Twitter. And I also delete every email as I receive it (after responding to the message, of course!), and that’s the primary reason for my question. I don’t know if this is a good idea or if I’m just setting myself up for failure by being such a pessimist…because I’m deleting the messages NOW so that I won’t have to delete them LATER (i.e., after we inevitably STOP seeing each other). Is deleting them a bad thing (because it seems to be guided by fear) or is keeping them a bad thing (because doing so would be guided by the blinding fun/excitement/emotions of the possibility of a new relationship?) —Valerie

Dear Valerie,

If my wife thinks that spending 90 minutes doing her hair and makeup is an efficient use of her time, should YOU spend 90 minutes doing your hair and makeup?

If your best friend thinks that “occasional” drug use is harmless and doesn’t impact other areas of his life, should YOU start doing drugs?

No and no.

Ready for Lasting Love?
Ready for Lasting Love?

That doesn’t mean that what you’re doing is healthy, but you already knew that.

So if I, a 38-year-old married dating coach, with a penchant for logic, a nostalgic streak, and a high tolerance for emotional upheaval, tells you that you’re being silly by deleting everything any man ever writes to you, are you actually being silly?

Of course not.

That doesn’t mean that what you’re doing is healthy, but you already knew that.

You’re firmly established as a “pain-avoider” instead of a “pleasure-seeker”.

Pain-avoiders live their lives in fear. They won’t go online because men are players. They won’t get set-up because it never works. They won’t hook up with a guy because he may not want to commit. They try to figure out whether he’s a husband after three dates and pull away if they see any hint of a red flag. As a result, pain-avoiders are VERY successful at avoiding pain; they’re just TERRIBLE at finding love. Their whole existence is structured at protecting them from being emotionally vulnerable.

I’m the complete opposite of you, Valerie.

Pain-avoiders are VERY successful at avoiding pain; they’re just TERRIBLE at finding love.


I have every email that’s ever been written to me by a random woman from JDate. I have photographs of every girlfriend I’ve had in 15 years in Los Angeles. I am friends on Facebook with, um, too many people that I’ve seen naked. (The only ones I’m not friends with are women like you, who have deleted me because it’s too painful. Really? 9 years later?)

So while I understand that YOU think that digital communication means reliving your past; for me, it means not forgetting my past — no matter how painful it might have been.

Now is there any real benefit to saving all of those emails, those photos, those exes? Not really. I’ll admit, I’m a bit of a “hoarder” when it comes to sentimental stuff — that’s the writer part of me. But it seems a bit extreme to purge yourself of all traces of a potential husband WHILE he’s still courting you.

I mean, it’s not like there’s a tangible downside to cleaning out your inbox and separating your men from your friends the way others separate their personal and business expenses.

To me, it’s more symbolic. You’re bracing yourself for failure. And although I can say that 99% of all men are NOT your future husband and that failure is the default setting in any relationship, do you actually want to be a pain-avoider? Or do you want to be a pleasure seeker? Which one do you think is happier? More attractive to the opposite sex? More open and vulnerable and willing to take a chance on love?

Once you know the answer, the rest will be self-explanatory.