"Traditional" relationship milestones look a little something like: defining the relationship, meeting the parents, saying "I love you," moving in, and a bunch of other firsts. But in today's day and age, there's another milestone that's also a pretty big deal: adding your partner’s parents on Facebook. In the digital world, it seems like making a social media connection with your significant other's family is just as important as meeting them in the first place.
But how do you navigate the social media terrain where your partner's parents are concerned? "Proceed with caution," Tammy Shaklee, matchmaker for LGBTQ singles, relationship expert, and founder of H4M Matchmaking, tells Elite Daily. Turns out, even more important to think about than adding your bae's parent's on Facebook is what comes after you hit "Add Friend," and that's what bae's fam might find on your profile.
"Older generations may have more time to creep on Facebook," Shaklee says. "Are you prepared for them to scroll back to your beginning posts and photos from years ago? Then [you] probably [should] not [add them]. You might gracefully verbally respond if asked next time you see them that you really aren’t as active on Facebook like you used to be, and only have time to stay in touch with your closest college friends or such through other more convenient platforms."
Now, even if you are ready to add your boyfriend or girlfriend's mom on Facebook, does that mean you should? Not exactly. "Perhaps once engaged for marriage, it’s a good time, if you haven’t already, to clean up your Facebook," Shaklee adds. At that point, Shaklee says it makes more sense to be friends with your partner's family members on Facebook. But ask yourself: "What would you feel comfortable with your new extended family seeing and learning about you?" Shaklee says.
At the end of the day, you have to do what feels right when it comes to your relationship. For example, my fiancé's mother added me on Facebook soon after we spent Christmas with his family. We weren't engaged, but had been together long enough for it to feel serious to our family members. Adding her as a friend was an easy decision, because I knew she would want to see what I was up to, and I really didn't have anything to hide.
"Some say Facebook can simply serve as your 'Daily Gazette' or 'Hollywood Insider' into other folks’ lives, activities, and interests," Shaklee says. "It can feel like peeking in to the party you didn’t have time to attend or weren’t invited to, and give you fun topics to chat about next time you see each other. Being connected on Facebook may not make you, but it could break you."
Most importantly, make sure that your profile is prepared for having bae's parents see it. "Consider having a 'public' and 'restricted' version of your Facebook page," advises Shaklee. "You may accept more distant connections, then put them on the restricted list, so they only see your public posts." Luckily, Facebook has a feature that allows you to create a restricted list of Facebook friends that only see what you allow them to, so you won't have to worry about your partner's great aunt seeing your Friday night turn up if you don't want her to.
Add your partner's parents on Facebook only if you feel comfortable doing so, as Shaklee says. More importantly, "Stay focused on your partner, and enjoy getting to know your partner’s parents in person," she adds. Facebook can present a lot of issues, especially with how tense the political climate feels in this moment. So, if you want to take it slow, that might not be the worst idea.