Miss Information

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Is it true that men can't have a girl friend on Facebook without having a sexual or romantic interest?

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Dear Miss Information,

Some time ago, someone told me that no man adds an unknown girl on Facebook to be his friend.

My boyfriend did not have Facebook for quite a while, but a month ago he opened one to manage the fan page of a sports club he is in. About two weeks ago he participated in a match where he met a girl who is in the club too. So he added her.

The week after the event he was very weird with me. I thought it was just in my head, but something between us felt “off”, like he was forcing himself to be normal when we talked or texted. We saw each other a couple of days later, and he left his Facebook page open in the “conversations” section. The interaction between him and this girl started, "Oh hi, my name is John Doe and I play Tennis, so I took the liberty of adding you because you play tennis too!" After a conversation of the various sport events they had been in, he said, "Oh, I leave you this video because I love this song." 

It felt weird. There’s absolutely nothing bad about the whole thing, but it did feel very odd. I was sad because I snooped and also I did not want to make a fuss about the messages when they’re such an insignificant thing. But it bothers me, and it’s becoming bigger and bigger in my head. I don't know what to do, and I have two big questions regarding the situation: Is there a hidden agenda in those casual conversations (which he initiated) or is just a friendly chat? And is it true that men can't have a girl friend on Facebook without having a sexual or romantic interest?

—Man-Style Messaging

Dear Man-Style Messaging:

Generally speaking, when I hear “Men can’t do ___!” or “Women always misinterpret ___!” or “Ladies be shoppin’ for wedding dresses!” I want to stab something into my eye. Sure, we do process information differently sometimes; sure, a girl-baby raised in the world will be subjected to different pressures than a boy-baby. But when it comes to social behavior, we all have the same end goals, possess roughly the same toolbox, and observe the same major rules. Be confident applying your logic to this situation, because he’s not living in a totally different world than you are.

To this end, I don’t think you’re reacting against something mysterious that only men do; I think you’re reacting to their communication because you sense there is an ulterior motive. And of course there is one, but that doesn’t mean it’s insidious.

Think about the last time you added someone on Facebook and/or initiated communication. Why did you do it? Do you only talk to people you want to bang? Of course not. You likely add people you find interesting or intriguing, and adding them is a way of keeping them in your orbit—but it doesn’t necessarily mean you want anything else. You know for sure that your boyfriend has hit it off with this girl, but you can’t assume anything beyond that.

Before you tie yourself in knots trying to guess his motivations, look at the evidence. He has traded a few messages with this girl. That’s it. They’re (probably) not secretly conspiring to hook up in the park at midnight, nor are they (probably) planning to burn down your apartment while you’re gone. Their messages may be nothing, but if they make you uncomfortable, then that is significant. Keep it light, keep it non-accusatory, but bring it up. 

All in all, Man-Style Messages, you can trust your intuition on this because there aren’t special male-only codes that women can’t crack. (We’d understand if only we spent less time trying on wedding dresses!) If it feels fishy to you, give your boyfriend a chance to explain, and take things from there. The stories in your head are more likely to poison your relationship than a simple conversation.