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The do's and don'ts of asking someone out online

Leave your romantic life out of your Twitter stream, say Andrea Bartz, left, and Brenna Ehrlich.
Leave your romantic life out of your Twitter stream, say Andrea Bartz, left, and Brenna Ehrlich.
  • Don't e-mail a romantic interest unless he gave you his address directly
  • Facebook has been blamed for fueling jealousy and even divorces
  • Twitter is a limited tool: You have only 140 characters to show your, well, character
  • Twitter Inc.
  • Facebook Inc.
  • Internet
  • Dating

Editor's note: Brenna Ehrlich and Andrea Bartz are the sarcastic brains behind humor blog and soon-to-be-book Stuff Hipsters Hate. When they're not trolling Brooklyn for new material, Ehrlich works as a news editor at, and Bartz holds the same position at Psychology Today.

(CNN) -- Imagine, if you will, a crowded dance floor: Men and women are talking, laughing awkwardly and trying to gyrate their rhythmically challenged hips to that Phoenix song that goes "do let, do let, blah blah."

One lone man ceases undulating to put his lips to the ear of the chick he's grinding up on. "Hey," he purrs, "Can I get your Twitter handle?"

We've reached that point, folks: the zenith of awkwardness whereby the cables of communication are so plentiful that we are wound in a web of our own making. In a sense, we have returned to the tangled days of Emily Post-esque courting etiquette -- circa 1922 -- whereby men left women calling cards and letters of introduction, not actually seeing the women themselves upon delivery, unless it was between 4 and 6 o'clock (yes, these were the actual rules).

Though we no longer carry engraved cards (2¾ to 3½ inches wide by 2 to 2¾ inches high), we do tout around the modern equivalent: a slew of digital identities that potential suitors must circumvent to get to the actual you.

While we admit that fixing the above issue wholesale would require a total brain-scrub of the world's populace, we are prepared to offer a few date-making tips for all you hopeless (emphasis on the hopeless) romantics.


Although the social-networking site has gained quite the bad rep in the romantic realm, being blamed for fueling jealousy and even divorces, it's still a pretty good venue by which to hook up. (Yeah, it would be better for all of humanity if we refrained from Facebook-stalking those we're into -- but that cause is about as lost as our generation's innocence).

So here are the ground rules. It's totally OK to ask a person out via Facebook if you don't have his/her number: e.g., you met a girl at a party, have a few mutual friends, but lost her in the crowd after that dude jumped in the rooftop kiddie pool naked and shook himself about, causing the crowd to scatter in discomfort.

Just shoot the object of your affection a message suggesting a hangout. A recent study by Oxygen Media and Lightspeed Research showed that one-third of women 18 to 34 check Facebook the moment they wake up (we're guessing dudes are equally obsessive), so there's an excellent chance your soon-to-be love will see your charming missive about that sick croquet tourney before s/he's even brushed those pearly whites.

After she agrees to knock balls around the park (croquet balls, you perv...), just chill with the messages, OK? Ask her for her digits and commence contacting thusly. At a certain point, checking a ton 'o inboxes in order to nail down a date gets tiresome. No point in annoying her before God and the science of magnets and whatever else dictates whether you'll find love among the wickets.


Rule of thumb: Don't e-mail a romantic interest unless he gave you his address directly. Yeah, nowadays you can find pretty much anyone's addy via Google and some highly tuned stalking skills, but that doesn't mean it's cool to invade that sacred sphere.

'Cause, let's face it, in this socially connected world (damn, that sounded like the beginning of some horrifying "Your Body Is Changing" film), personal e-mails are our last bastion of privacy: the equivalent of a phone number, you know, back when everyone still used those to call people. So even though the dude who makes your heart drool all over itself has his @ address on his Facebook profile, refrain from copy-pasting.

Now let's say the future "His" to your "Hers" hands you a slip of paper with his address scrawled on it and tells you to hit up his inbox. Putting aside the archaic e-mail address (don't worry, you can change him), keep your exchange to the minimum: "Wanna meet at Trash Bar at 11 p.m. on Thursday to see my cousin's screamo band?" "Sure, sounds like a plan." "Cool, see you there. Here's my number. Bring fake blood."

Then refrain from adding to the e-mail chain, even though you just saw the most adorable puppy during your lunch break and he totally needs to hear about it. If you give away all those conversational gems before the actual date, you could end up staring at each other in awkward silence, wondering desperately: "Where do we go from here?" Save that for the morning after.


The anecdote from the beginning of this article? Yeah. A similar thing actually happened to a friend of ours. Her response? Laughter, shock and an all-over creepy-crawly feeling.

While Twitter might be awesome for getting one out of prison in foreign lands or selling copies of Arcade Fire's "The Suburbs," it's a really poor place to pick people up.

Consider how limiting the medium is: You have 140 characters to show your, well, character. In fact, some psychologists and sociologists have found there's not even much correlation between your Twitter personality and real-life persona.

Add to that the teeny tiny profile pic that may be of you or Bill Murray or an awww-inspiring kitten of some sort, and you've got one dire case of obfuscation.

So unless you're using Plenty of Tweeps or one of those other weird Twitter dating services (in which case, just succumb to a future of loneliness now), leave your romantic life outta your Twitter stream. Unless, of course, you are one of the members of Arcade Fire ... in which case, hit us up.


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