This post has been adapted from an excerpt of The Whole Guy Thing: What Every Girl Needs to Know about Crushes, Friendship, Relating, and Dating, by Nancy Rue.
Is it okay to chat with a guy online? Girls frequently confide in me that it’s so much easier for them to establish a friendship with a guy on Facebook or via e-mail or even texting. Here’s what they’ve said:
“I’ve been talking to a guy I know on Facebook for the last few nights and he’s very interesting. He’s eighteen and I’m fifteen, but I like that he actually uses intelligent-sounding words and is smart. I wouldn’t want to go out with him, but as a friend he seems cool. And yet, do I really know him?”
“I usually start my friendships with guys on Facebook, like this new guy in our class. I didn’t talk to him because I’m shy around people I don’t know well. But on Facebook we talked for like an hour. It just helps to break the ice.”
Social networking can be a total blast, and it eliminates that awkward “what do I do with my arms?” and “I bet my face looks red as a beefsteak tomato right now.” If both you and a guy you’re chatting with on Facebook are being real, it can be a way to start getting to know each other. And if he lives far away, you’ve taken your friendships global.
There are benefits to online friendships, but the issue with the Internet is that it can also be used in the wrong way as well. It was created to give everybody a voice, but there are some voices you don’t need to hear.
That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t use the social network to develop friendships. You just have to be super careful.
4 Helpful Hints:
1. If you have never actually met the guy you’re chatting with (as in, you haven’t seen each other’s real faces!)…
…don’t give away any personal or contact information. (Which means keep all of that out of your profile too.)
Let your conversations be light and focused on interests you share, rather than on your virtual feelings for each other. Not to make you paranoid, but you really don’t know who this guy is and whether anything he’s saying is the truth. Definitely do NOT agree to meet with him, and if he asks, make sure you tell an adult you trust.
2. If you have met the guy and you’re keeping in touch because he lives someplace else…
…take the same approach as if you’d never seen him in person.
Unless you know you’re going to get together again, under safe circumstances, there’s really no point in going for deep soul-sharing. Becoming emotionally involved with someone you’ve barely met is never a good idea.
3. If your text/email/Facebook guy friend is somebody you see often (church, school, sports, that kind of thing)…
…talking via the Internet can indeed help you get past the initial shyness and keep you from turning into a sweaty mess the minute he looks at you. It will be like picking up the conversation where you left it when you signed off.
4. No matter what the situation is with an Internet friend…
…remember that everything you post is potentially public.
That’s actually a good thing. It makes you think before you hit Enter: Is this something I’d want my mom and dad to see? Do I actually want the entire world to know this?
One girl sums it up beautifully:
“I used to have all these guy friends on Facebook. But then I realized it was kind of a problem for me because, like . . . I didn’t know who they truly were. They could say all this stuff about themselves and then not act like it in person. And you’ll say stuff you never would to someone’s face. People are so different on them computer than in real life — they’ ll say nasty or intimate things they would never say in person. So now I don’t do involved talking over the Internet because it has ruined a lot of friendships.”
What will that look like? That depends on your personality and his, though God does give us some basics to go on.
The most important thing to remember is that your relationships should be based on love, whether online or in the real world. Read 1 Corinthians 13:4 – 8 and see if you can envision the picture as it applies to you.
“Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.” (NIV)
What Do You Think?
Do you have any advice about talking to guys on Facebook, e-mail, or texting? Is your relationship based on real love (not necessarily romantic love) and respect like 1 Corinthians suggests? Are you a parent who has experience on this topic or found this post helpful? Tell us your thoughts!
About Nancy Rue
Nancy Rue has written over 100 books for girls, is the editor of the Faithgirlz Bible, and is a popular speaker and radio guest with her expertise in tween and teen issues. She and husband Jim have raised a daughter of their own and now live in Tennessee.
To learn more about Nancy, visit: NancyRue.com
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