Facebooking Friends: How Soon is Too Soon?

The question of how soon to call a potential love interest is as an oldie but a goodie. The answer is debatable and I’m sure different for everyone, though I can’t help but recall Vince Vaughn’s Trent, in Swingers:

Mike: So how long do I wait to call? 
Trent: A day. 
Mike: Tomorrow. 
Sue: Tomorrow, then a day. 
Trent: Yeah. 
Mike: So two days? 
Trent: Yeah, I guess you could call it that, two days. 
Sue: Definitely, two days is like industry standard. 
Trent: You know I used to wait two days to call anybody, but now it’s like everyone in town waits two days. So I think three days is kind of money.

A modernized version of this problem has emerged in my new-friend-finding life: How soon is too soon to Facebook someone?

It sounds silly, maybe, but it’s the most modern of social conundrums: I’m ready to make someone my social network pal, but we only met this morning. Is it too early?  Will l seem over-eager?

Take this weekend. I met a girl who is brand-new to Chicago and we totally hit it off. We shared loves of Friday Night Lights, How I Met Your Mother, and Never Say Never. (Yes, that is the Bieber documentary. Stop judging me and watch it. You’ll be a convert.) We grew up some 20 minutes from each other in New York and discovered some this-world-is-crazily-small connections. When I got home I started telling Matt about the meeting and suddenly exclaimed, Oh! I’m going to Facebook her now.” But before I got to my computer, I changed my mind. Would that seem weird? Or desperate? Like  I ran home from our meeting with nothing else on my mind and zero to do but ask her to be my virtual friend?

I held back, deciding I would “get around to it” (translation: pry my hands away from the “Add Friend” button until) a few days later.

Imagine my pleasant surprise when, that night, I checked my phone and found an email waiting: “New Friend wants to be friends on Facebook.” Phew.

Perhaps I should be embarrassed to admit the small thrill I got from this auto-notification. She friended me first! Now I didn’t have to worry about the appropriate waiting period, and I’ll admit I was more than a little pleased that she even remembered my name (or perhaps asked our mutual friend for it. Either way. There was thought involved.)

I know I’m not alone in overanalyzing the protocol of the Facebook friend request. I generally follow a two-pronged plan. Option 1: Request a new friend while I’m with her, as a kind of laughably honest recognition of how silly the whole thing is, but also to say-without-saying “I like you. We shall be friends.” When I was at a bachelorette party this summer, I was chatting with a girl with whom I totally clicked. That night I declared my intention: “I am totally Facebooking you. You will have a request by morning!” And she did.

Or you can wait a day or two, so as not to seem that all you do is spend time on Facebook.

Oh, the games we play.

Still, I was psyched when I got my request this week, not scared off by any too-soon nature of it all. So maybe I should shove my two-pronged plan down the toilet. Perhaps that’s option 3.

What’s your Facebook tendency? Add a new friend as soon as you meet? Always wait for someone to friend you? Is there a required waiting period, or is there no such thing as too-soon? Or do you only friend someone when you want to stalk their pictures (another valuable reason, in my humble opinion)?


Filed under The Search

11 responses to “Facebooking Friends: How Soon is Too Soon?

  1. I think friending on Facebook after the second meeting is appropriate. Just like in dating, a second friend date can be pretty elusive. But if you get one, then there’s a pretty good chance there will be a third, and so forth.

    But then sometimes you can’t help but be eager. I met my cousin’s new girlfriend (new to me – she’s been in the picture for about 2 years now) last weekend, and she friended me between a rehearsal dinner and wedding we had both attended. And when I got the request, I was a little excited and not at all weirded out.

  2. I’ve never thought about it but I probably come across as eager beaver because I friend the minute I’m at a computer and I remember 🙂

    Then again, I only go on FB about 3 – 4 times a week so I don’t think I come across too eager. Although I do gush when I meet people I really like 🙂

  3. Zach

    one very important nuance….it’s all about how much of the profile you can already see when not friends with said person. if you cant see anything, friend immediately. if you can already see wall posts, photos etc, wait some time. works like a charm.

    • San

      Mmh. I would have suggested the opposite. If someone keeps their profile more private, I would probably wait a few more days/weeks to make sure that the person will actually accept my friend request and not ignore me, because she doesn’t add “strangers”.

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  5. K

    Arg! Two days, just the thought makes me feel like my space is being invaded! Just this week I FB friended some new friends as I have known them for 6 months now and feel like we are friends now, as opposed to acquaintances!

  6. Kate

    I don’t wait to friend somebody on Facebook but I might wait a lifetime to make real life plans with a potential friend. A guy friend introduced me to his new girlfriend and we really hit it off. Two days later he texts me: “She wants to know if you’ll go to the Janet Jackson concert with her on Thursday?”

    Um, how did she know that I also love Janet? How did she know I’m not the kind of girl that likes to be alone?? Instant friends! And I never would have done that. She’s much braver than me.

    (Classic Swingers quote!)

  7. This is an interesting question and one that most of us seek the answer to. For me it depends on the person. If she’s laidback and we hit it off with no effort, then I actually think it’s fine to do it immediately, kind of keeps the momentum going. Otherwise, wait till you really have a reason, such as planning the next meeting. However, don’t wait so long that one of you forgets 🙂

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  9. The fact that your new friend immediately friended you and that you were delighted about it speaks volumes – everybody likes to be liked! And although probably everybody thinks they might come across as desperate, I don’t think anyone actually gets creeped out by friendly enthusiasm. Friend them immediately and find how much more quickly you will make time to hang out in real life!!

  10. This fits in nicely with a quandary I am in at the moment. I know you’ve written about finding friends in unusual places in the past, and the questions about what do to when you’d like to be friends with someone like your stylist. This is the situation I am in. I have an awesome stylist. She does a great job. She’s also about my age and seems pretty cool. I’d like to ask her to hang out, but I was thinking Facebook friending might be the right first step. That way, if she doesn’t feel the same way, she can ignore the request or let me know she’s not allowed to be friends with clients.

    However, I wonder if I’m thinking about this too much. I’m thinking through what message to add when I friend her, of if I should just ask her to hang out first and FB friends come later. What do you think?

    I’m new to a Miami and I work from home so making friends has been really hard. I want to put myself out there more. That’s one of the reasons I’ve been loving your blog!

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