Romance in the age of Instagram. The do’s and the don’ts.

We live in a world where love is only a website visit or app download away. Hundreds of platforms exist to connect us with others who share our same passions and world outlook. Into Seinfeld and Wu-Tang Clan? There’s an app for that. With all the options available there are still some who elect to use professional platforms like LinkedIn, Twitter, and Instagram to connect with potential romantic partners. A word of caution: Approaching someone via a professional platform with romance on your mind can be risky for your personal brand.

Below are a few tips about looking for love in a business space. Following them can keep you from committing a professional faux pas—and perhaps, help you even avoid rejection (and/or embarrassment).

Be very selective. If you must engage someone romantically on a professional site, be sure to do so very selectively. Engaging people in this manner opens you up to the potential risk of being spoken about negatively and/or your messages being shared. It’s also very easy to quickly become negatively viewed as someone who trolls social media looking for relationships.

Proceed with caution. Just because you can view a person’s posts and images does not mean you actually “know” them. Social media allows us to self-select what the world sees, but until you actually speak with someone you have no way of knowing who that person is in real life. Not everyone is comfortable with having his or her entire life on display, so if a relationship status or images of an assumed significant other are not posted that doesn’t necessarily mean that person doesn’t exist.

Be a friend. When engaging a stranger via a social media platform it is not in your best interest to lead with your romantic intentions.  Approach the person first as a friend and allow for the conversation to naturally evolve from there. If you’re at a loss as to where to start, kick off the conversation talking about something you may have in common, i.e. profession, philanthropic interests, alma mater, etc. This benign tactic allows you to gauge the other person’s interest without giving away your position. If they happen to be not available or interested your brand is left untarnished.

Take a hint. A non-response is a response. If you have reached out to someone via social media there is a very strong chance they saw the message. If they have not responded to your first message (or your sixth), more likely than not it means they are not interested. Take note and move on. Aggressively pursing someone who does not know you comes across as creepy, not romantic.

Take it offline. When possible, try to take your budding relationship offline. Doing so allows you to assess if you and your potential partner have actual romantic chemistry. Also, should the relationship go sour, taking your engagement offline allows for you to have less of an electronic paper trail.

Have a plan for damage control. Even the most perceptive person runs the risk of misreading a situation. When this happens, your first tactic should always be to salvage the professional relationship. If there is no reason to disconnect from the other person, refrain from doing so. Do not delete or block them from your social media platforms.

That said, here are a few things to keep in mind when the relationship is anything but salvageable. Not everyone behaves like a rational adult, so manage yourself and the situation with as much class and tact as possible. Refrain from sending any inflammatory emails, texts, or direct messages or posting any grievances on social media. If messages are sent to you, ignore them. If anything is posted about you, delete it. The key is to not make the situation appear larger than it is.

Finding ever-lasting love is tough (believe me, I know), but there’s no need to take down your professional reputation in the process.

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