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This past weekend, I was out to dinner with a girl I had just recently started dating. I enjoy spending time with her but I’ve also made it clear that I’m casually dating others and not looking for a major commitment at the moment. She agreed and said she was feeling the same way.
We were sitting at the bar having a cocktail before our reservation and she asked the bartender to take a photo of us. She really liked the picture and said she wanted to put it on Facebook. I asked kindly not to be tagged as I don’t like everyone being able to see my photos, which stirred some mixed emotions from her.
We sat down for dinner and had a good time. The next morning, I get back from some errands and receive a Facebook notification in my email. Sure enough, she tagged me in the photo with her. I de-tagged myself shortly afterwards and prepared for the shitstorm to come, which certainly did.
I always like being in control of my surroundings but in retrospect, there was no easy way out of this one. I think it’s fairly obvious this was a test to see how I would respond. Unfortunately, this ended in her getting upset because she felt I was ashamed of her. That’s certainly not the case, I just wasn’t prepared to answer the questions that would certainly follow by numerous people. How would you handle this situation?
Well, as is the case with so many matters of the heart, there’s not an answer for this question that both gets you off the hook and soothes the wounded feelings of this woman. But I can offer you some insight into what happened here, so that you can at least understand better, and perhaps be more prepared in the future (though truly, you did nothing wrong).
When you told this woman that you were casually dating other people and not interested in a commitment, she either really did agree that she felt the same way, or she wanted to save face so she said that she felt the same way when in fact she did not. Here’s something sort of complicated about women in general (and you know I try to avoid generalities about women, but I do think this one is true). Even if she was really dating other people and not interested in a commitment from you, she probably felt a little bit bad about hearing you say it aloud. I suspect some men might have the same reaction. We all want to feel like we’re the most important, even if the person who we want to feel that way is not most important to us. Follow? Maybe hearing you say that she’s not your one and only inspired a bit of jealousy and self-doubt.
BUT, I don’t think your gal falls in that first category. I think she was saving face by saying she agreed with you. My proof? She asked the bartender to take a photo of you two. Now, I know we live in a narcissistic society where we feel compelled to record every second of our lives and then post it on Facebook and Twitter like other people care that we “Just got the laundry done! Ready to relax with a glass of wine and an episode of Say Yes to the Dress!” But if she thought what you had was a casual arrangement (especially since you just started seeing her), she wouldn’t have wanted/needed a photo of you at the bar, that she then turned around and posted on FB.
Now, to be honest, I can understand why she may have bristled when you asked her not to tag you. What she heard was, “I don’t want my friends to know we were hanging out.” I know you didn’t say that, but that’s what she heard. And me? I would have felt the same way. But…that’s where two roads diverged on a Facebook page, and she, she took the road that boxed you into a cage, and that made all the difference. She should have respected your wishes. You call it a test to see what your reaction would be; I call it childishness.
How to avoid this in the future? In this day of social media, extreme sharing, and instant information, I don’t think it’s easy. You sound like a reasoned, mature individual who was upfront and honest and made his wishes clear. Well, Tom, most people aren’t like that. I would know, I’ve done the legwork. The only solution I’ve come up with is to not be friends on Facebook with women you’re casually dating . But that again will cause some conflict, surely. “Why don’t you want to be my FB friend? What are you hiding from me?” Bottom line–Do what makes you feel most comfortable and realize that you’re not responsible for the reactions of other people.
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