So, picture this...

You’re dating someone new. You’re totally into one another. I mean, you’re both almost at the PDA stage. He’s even introduced you to his mates.

So, when is it acceptable to add them as a friend on Facebook? To follow them on Instagram? And why does this small thing freak the absolute bejesus out of us? Is it fear of rejection? Or, if his account is private (admit it, you’ve totally checked out his pics already), does it mean that he’s hiding a wife/pet tarantula/sock fetish somewhere?

Whatever. The fact is, in a society that’s made social media it’s main focus, especially in the dating world, it's essential that we know the etiquette surrounding it. Because, you can seriously balls things up if you get it wrong. Start adding him willy-nilly across social media platforms could (read: will definitely) make you look like a bit of a stalker-lunatic person, but keeping your distance may also give off the impression that you are the one with a closet full of skeletons.

So how do we relationship fledglings negotiate such blurred boundaries? I for one, would love a bit of guidance here.

Luckily, dating expert James Preece (AKA The Dating Guru) was on hand to offer up some excellent advice on this social media pickle.

So, let's go for the jugular – how long before you can add someone that you’re dating as a ‘friend’ on Facebook?

‘Anything less than three dates is going to come across as too keen. When you are first getting to know someone, the thrill comes from finding things out about each other slowly. If you can find everything out on Facebook immediately then it takes away the fun and the mystery.  You have to leave some things to the imagination to build suspense!’

If their account is on ‘private’, how do you approach any awkwardness about them NOT accepting your friend request – is that a rejection?

‘If someone has set their account to private, that's because that's what they’re comfortable with. They might not want everyone to know every little thing about them. If they wanted to add you then they would so it may take time.  If you have been dating, then it's not a rejection - more of a "let's wait and see." Of course, if things get serious between you and they've still not accepted... you have to wonder what (or who) they might be hiding.’

(i.e. sock fetish)

Read More: Forget Ghosting Ladies, Nowadays It's All About The Dating 180

Is it EVER appropriate to mention that you’ve already looked through their social media profile (pictures, etc..)

‘This isn't a great thing to mention on a first date as it's going to come across a bit creepy. Not just that, but they'll wonder exactly what you might have seen. If they have a public website then it's fine to admit to having a look at that, though.’

Do guys social media stalk as much as women do?

‘Yes, absolutely! Guys are more visual than women so they'll have the urge to look at photos. You'll probably find they will try to add you on social media before you even get the chance to think about it.’ 

Is it ever cool to try and approach someone via LinkdIn? Bit weird, no? (FYI, this has happened to me before)

‘The problem with LinkedIn is that you have absolutely no idea if someone is single or in a relationship. Having said that, more and more people are adding professional photos in the hope of getting attention. It's just not a great idea to contact people and ask them out as you risk getting your account suspended. If you are single and you find someone you like on LinkedIn, it's a better tactic to see if you can reach out to them on another social site instead.’

Is it best to leave out social media altogether in the beginning stages of a relationship?

‘Everyone does a little social media research now and again, purely because information is so readily available. You can see exactly what they are up to, where they are, and who they are doing it with.  It is better for your own sanity though to try and stay clear when it's still such early days. Otherwise, you might find yourself getting jealous or frustrated without any good reason.’

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So there you have it ladies. Chill out, easy on the stalking and use the three date rule. Simples.