The “Add Me on Facebook” cop-out is the great escape maneuver of our time; the politest “I’m not particularly interested but don’t want to be a dick”, or “not right now but maybe in a couple of weeks” response in existence. Is it lazy? Sure. Does it keep potentially very nice people at arm’s length? Absolutely. But when you’re single and looking (and occasionally doing more than just looking), you can’t just hand your phone number out like it’s a Domino’s coupon. The “Add Me on Facebook” cop-out is a carefully formulated form of discretion for the modern single woman. I guarantee that if Sex and the City were still around, Carrie Bradshaw would be writing about it.
It started with a cute (but tragically short), bespectacled coworker who asked me out for coffee. With not a single date on my calendar for the foreseeable future, what else could I say but “sure”?
“Okay cool, I’ll find your number in the work directory or something?”
That sounds weird. Stalkerish. Should I be creeped out by this? Regardless, I’m not going to just, like, give you my number, in front of our other coworkers. Shit. Um.
“Just add me on Facebook!”
Yes. Upbeat, friendly, noncommittal. Perfect.
In the following weeks, a handful of dudes at parties got slapped with the “Add Me on Facebook” cop-out. No one got my number. Cute Bespectacled Coworker and I were ostensibly going out, but neither of us really cared enough to move past that particular anti-label (although, I confess, I did eventually allow him to text me).
Nothing happened with my new digital friends, until Spanish Boy came into the (profile) picture.
Spanish Boy’s name is misleading, as he is not actually from Spain (we’ll get to Actual Spanish Boy a bit later in this timeline). We met over verb conjugations and vocabulary lists in Spanish class, which would have been a great story to tell our friends, had things not blown up in an epic manner just weeks after he got served a steaming platter of “Add Me on Facebook.” With him it was less a cop-out and more an effort to be demure and detached; to look like the kind of total babe who needs some kind of Facebook waiting room for potential dates. The “Add Me on Facebook” cop-out has many uses, you see.
Things with Spanish Boy ended very, very badly. And with that, I had yet another reason to employ the “Add Me on Facebook” cop-out. When you’re so uninvested that you don’t even bother to give out your phone number, how can you get hurt?
Uninvested isn’t always as cool as it sounds. Sometimes, it means drunkenly hooking up with a guy whose name you may have never even gotten behind an unused upstairs bar on your first night in Spain. It can mean watching Spanish Boy, who has ended up in this strange new country with you by some stroke of evil cosmic irony, grab your friend’s hand as you’re all walking home at sunrise. It can mean kicking off your shoes and stumbling down to the beach, which looks iridescent and so beautiful, just to get away for a minute and collect your thoughts. It can mean tiredly, resignedly, telling the very handsome shadow that appears behind you, “lo siento, no entiendo”, because you are too far gone to speak to anyone in a language that’s not your own. It can mean being visibly surprised when he addresses you in accented English, asking over and over for your number. It can mean a weary, disinterested, “Add Me on Facebook” delivered just before you rejoin your friends for a couple hours’ sleep and a morning spent as hungover as you’ve ever been.
Actual Spanish Boy messaged me the next day. And very surprisingly, two drunk, not-entirely-bilingual people who met by chance on a beach became friends on Facebook and IRL. Actual Spanish Boy showed me around his city, from the tourist-free beaches to the best places to get a cheap beer. We shared cigarettes and snuck onto his friend’s boat in the middle of the night. He made fun of my inability to drive a stick shift and I dared him to teach me.
We still exchange messages now and then. Sometimes people surprise you – even drunk ones you meet on the beach at sunrise in a foreign country.
The summer continued.
“Add Me on Facebook” to the slightly-too-old Nigerian guy I kissed at a bar in Dublin.
“Añadame en Facebook” to the much-too-old guy who worked at the Vespa shop in Barcelona.
“Oh, um, yeah, just add me on Facebook?” to the Canadian actor in the hostel room next door.
And so on. Most of them follow through, and many send a message within a day or two. Which is fine; I usually respond, sometimes more than once, and let it drop off naturally from there. All’s fair in fleeting attraction and Facebook, I guess.
And then there’s the one who I message first. He doesn’t get the same, processed “Add Me on Facebook” that all the others do. We’re virtual friends because we are, more or less, actual friends. We keep running into each other at parties, and a few weeks ago he showed up at my apartment with our mutual friends, like it was completely natural. So when I tag along to a kickback at his place, when we spend half the night talking in the kitchen, when I message him the next day to apologize for spilling beer all over his floor, that feels pretty natural too.
The next time I see him is at a little graduation party we’re throwing for a good friend of mine. We sit across from each other, he one of just a handful of dudes in attendance at the kind of party where someone has handcrafted a centerpiece for the table. I’m wearing yellow, in part to appear cheery and in part to hide the fact that I am painfully, miserably hungover. Later, as the party breaks up, he walks me to the door and asks if I’d like to go to dinner soon.
I say yes and give him my number.