Sex, Love and Stalking on Facebook and Twitter

Thanks to Jesus at Gizmodo, my morning highlight was the below Facebook Public Service Announcement, which includes rules about not changing one’s relationship status without letting the other person know, making appropriate posts on other people’s walls and more.

This made me think about other Facebook and Twitter dilemmas in regard to love and relationships. For example:

- Is it okay for people to post pictures of themselves with an ex-boyfriend or ex-girlfriend who has now moved on with their life and is trying to date other people? (I know a guy who, even after he got engaged, left photos of himself up with his various exes.) Okay? Not okay? Okay if the photo was from a middle school dance but not okay if it was from a serious dating relationship in college?

- How often is too often to check an ex’s Facebook page? What is the line between “curious” and “obsessive”? When might it feel like cheating to one’s partner?

- How often is too often to check the Facebook pages of your partner’s exes?

- Is it “friendly” or “creepy” to become Facebook or Twitter friends with your partner’s exes if you’ve met them just once or twice (or, um, never met them at all)? Or is that stalkerish?

- Where is the line between appropriate and inappropriate photos to post of yourself on Facebook?

- If you find out that someone gives you a sexually transmissible infection (STI), such as chlamydia or herpes, and they won’t own up to it or discuss with you, is it appropriate to publicly broadcast this on their Facebook wall or to # them on Twitter? Yay or nay?

- At what point in a relationship with someone should you actually alter your relationship status to indicate that you are, actually, in a relationship with them? Or even if you don’t add “in a relationship”, at what point should you remove “single” or looking for “whatever I can get?”

- Is it deceitful if you Facebook flirt with someone via private messages rather than posting on their wall, where each other’s partners might potentially see it? (Same goes for Twitter Direct Messages versus RT).

- What is the appropriate use of blocking people on Facebook? Should you block stalkerish exes or “friends”? Is it okay to ask your partner to block people that they obsess over or who obsess over them?

- If someone posts that they are looking for “random play” or “whatever I can get” – but they clearly have a significant other – is it okay to assume it’s an open relationship and make a play for the person? Or should you err on the side of caution and assume that their status/looking for tags are just jokes or leftovers from their single days?

- Using Facebook photos of your Facebook “friends”/exes as masturbation B-roll – okay or not?

The more I think of this, the more endless it becomes. What are your thoughts on how to use Facebook, Twitter and other social media in ways that work for relationships or sex lives? Curious, as always.

About Dr. Debby Herbenick

Dr. Debby Herbenick

Dr. Debby Herbenick is a sex researcher at Indiana University, sexual health educator at The Kinsey Institute, columnist, and author of five books about sex and love. Learn more about her work at www.sexualhealth.indiana.edu.