Facebook flirting: What men really get up to
With one in five divorces in the UK citing little old Facebook as the reason their relationship ended we thought it was about time we looked at the facts about Facebook flirting.
What is he really up to on there? Who is he talking to? How much does he actually go on it? It's enough to make any normal girl go totally paranoia mental.
So we've asked a real life man - Thaddeus K Beaumont - to get a bit up close and personal with the issue and tell us what men are all about.
Find out what really goes on when he logs onto Facebook...
What he really gets up to
Facebook is brilliant. Unlike scores of people who love to slate it, saying it’s impersonal and non-essential, I am happy to admit it’s as much a part of my daily life as mealtimes and waiting ages for a bus.
Many a time have I fallen victim to the conundrum of being on Facebook and opening another window to check Facebook. It’s terrifying.
Recently a statistic came out that says 1 in 5 divorces can be traced back to Facebook. At first, this seemed ludicrously high, but on reflection I’m actually surprised it’s not higher.
Think about it. You’re unhappy in your marriage or relationship for whatever reason. In Facebook you have an online catalog of everyone you know, complete with information and photographs.
Whether you like it or not, the likelihood is that you know someone you fancy and you have access to their profile. Even those in a happy marriage will find themselves being curious and sniffing around anybody from the next door neighbor to the your long lost uni flatmate.
When your relationship starts to lack a little love, you’ll be hard pressed not to take a glance and see what else is out there.
Damien, 28 from Cambridge says: "Facebook is a social accelerator. In all situations, it makes communication easier and faster. Unfortunately that means that if you’re flirting with someone online, you’re able to do it more easily, in private without anyone knowing, and responding at a rate where in a couple of weeks you could have covered ground that in real life would take months of sneaking around!"
So does this mean that in order to have a long and healthy relationship, you should be done with Facebook?
Well, to a degree I think so. If a married man still goes to a meat market club, where the women are cheaper than the shots, he is far more likely to stray than if he stayed home and read a book.
In the same vein, if you’re able to see what lies outside of your marriage and entertain your crushes, then you are putting a strain on the relationship.
But who is realistically going to give up Facebook for these reasons? We flirt harmlessly every day in real life, with a store clerk or a friendly face at the bus stop; it doesn’t automatically mean we’re going to cheat on our partners.
Surely the pros of Facebook vastly outweigh the unlikely chance of ruining your relationship? So say we stick with Facebook, we'll need to be vigilant. We need Facebook code, if you will...
Trying to imagine what this Facebook code might involve is tricky. Some people are more open than others and are happier to flirt knowing it means nothing. Others; not so much.
It would seem the individual has to set the bar to what is and is not allowed.
I would say contacting girls you don’t immediately know, yet think are good looking is a pretty clear cut no. If they contact you, keep things short and polite.
Private messages should be treated with extreme caution.
But I’ve met some of my best girl friends through innocent flirting; does this mean I am never to make friends with a member of the opposite sex ever again?
Terry, 26, from London says: "One of my old girlfriends knew I’d met some girls at a house party and got on well with them. We became friends on Facebook and started chatting, and this made my girlfriend very uncomfortable. I knew I wasn’t trying to scout for new talent, but to make her feel better I stopped responding to messages.
Now that we’ve split up I think that was stupid, as I missed out on making new friends.
If I could go back in time and be friends with them, would I? One hundred percent.
My heart was in the right place and if she has a problem with me having girl friends then that is her problem, but something I’d be happy to help her with."
Denying oneself the opportunity to talk to new girls seems an awfully tragic step and one we should use only if a man is entirely untrustworthy. Perhaps it might be better to examine why these divorces through facebook are happening in the first place?
Is it not entirely plausible that two people grow apart, yet through increased social interaction through Facebook they meet a person they are happier with? Is that not important that they follow their hearts?
Of course, leaving your wife of 12 years for a brief romp with someone you hardly know is an outrageous idea.
But if after months of messaging and trying (and failing) to make your marriage work, can you say it is so wrong to take a calculated step towards finding love again?
To flirt or not to flirt
In summary, writing as a boy user of Facebook with a long-term girlfriend: I do use Facebook to flirt. But not to cheat on my girlfriend.
Flirting is a part of life and cutting it out entirely would be depriving oneself of one of life’s simple pleasures.
I would not want my girlfriend to stop lightly flirting with boys and I don’t feel guilty for making the occasional cheeky comment.
In the rare circumstances that a girl has messaged me something a little less innocent, I have made light of it and highlighted the existence of said girlfriend.
And I have never cheated on my girlfriend, regardless of how often I use Facebook.
One thing that might be of use to people who are in a relationship but are flirting wildly with someone online, is to remember that people are different to how they portray themselves through Facebook.
They can edit their pictures, change their interests and check what they write before they send it. So no matter how much you think you know someone over the internet, holding that character against your loving girlfriend is a foolish thing to do.
If your fella gets his head mixed up with an online friend, it could be time to implement your own Facebook code of conduct.