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Face the music: Go ahead and use Facebook to find love--but use it wisely.

Lethal Weapon

Romance in the age of Facebook

By Jaime Nabrynski

As if romance weren't complicated enough, Facebook has added another coil to the already convoluted dating scene. For one thing, it's made it easy to "do your research" before even setting foot on the first date battlefield: no cat lover need ever waste time on a dog person with "allergies" again. But do the pros of Facebook really outweigh the cons? Following are just five warnings one must heed when pursuing romance in the age of Facebook.

1. 'Studying up' before a date may evolve into less than respectable habits.
Nothing's better than Facebook for digging up vital details such as a user's sexual preference. Admittedly, knowledge of this sort is important when hunting for a compatible date. But the amount of access people have to each other's everyday agendas is getting out of hand. Becoming expert on a date's musical tastes and favorite food may safeguard against any awkward silences, yet the average person merely looking for love may inadvertently acquire the unflattering term "stalker." When cruising the book for a crush, a nonstalker must avoid accidentally putting the name of the quarry into the "status" bar, or everyone will know exactly who is being stalked and by whom.

2. Your significant other may be 'meeting the parents' without knowing it.
You told your parents a while ago that you were seeing somebody but put off introductions, knowing they wouldn't immediately appreciate your SO's love of extreme sports. Through the electronic guise of a sibling, or perhaps after creating their own accounts, the two old dears have figured out how to maneuver their way around Facebook. Now not only do they have access to who you're seeing at the moment, they've created a slideshow of the time you lied and said the two of you took a trip to the Grand Canyon when you actually went skydiving in Mexico.

3. Cheating becomes impossible.
Your squeeze has become a bore, so you decide to play the field for a bit--on the sly, of course. Your little fling understands that you intend to keep your relations under the radar but doesn't seem the harm in being Facebook friends. You finally give in to unremitting requests, and not two hours later, a comment appears on your wall proclaiming how much fun the two of you are going to have watching that new movie at your place the next night. Aghast, you delete the comment as quickly as you can--but not quickly enough. Your (former) significant other, who's on Facebook 24 hours a day, has seen the whole thing go down, and your status is changed to "single" before you even get a chance to explain yourself.

4. Breaking up is worse than ever.
Social networking means the drive-by has gone digital. Where previously a trip to the supermarket frequented by an ex would have sufficed, Facebook has now made it possible--even irresistible--to keep immaculate tabs on the heartbreaker. Scouring for clues about your replacement is painful yet addicting. After a disabling breakup, this is like pouring salt on a fresh wound. One common defense mechanism is to make sure the evidence of an amazing post-breakup life materializes on your page and as many of your friends' pages as you can manage. Wedding receptions, parties, nights at the bars, trips to Vegas, even lunch with friends from work prove excellent opportunities to document just how fabulous a time you're having. Really.

5. Drunk dialing becomes drunk Facebook messaging.
A distinctive feature of alcohol consumption is its uncanny ability to make brave even the most craven cowards. Before Facebook, this might have resulted in a mere impromptu phone call to an ex filled with laments and doubts and thinly veiled but desperate come-ons. However embarrassing, this gaffe is usually heard only by the ex and perhaps a few friends. With the advent of Facebook, however, there's always an online connection. The problem with a drunk message scrawled on the wall of an ex's Facebook profile, as opposed to one being left on a voicemail, is that now the regrets about the affair with the barista at Starbucks are on full public display.

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