I have several friends I'd like to have over for dinner to celebrate a big group achievement. One is vegetarian, one is gluten free due to celiac, one will eat anything and one is following the paleo diet. I'm completely lost as to what to serve. I want to accommodate everybody but can't see making several different meals. Any ideas?
— Clueless Chef
Cooking for friends with wildly different dietary needs and preferences can be a head-scratcher, but don't worry — you got this! One word: Fajitas. Whip up some well-seasoned beans and rice, sauté peppers, onions and whatever other veggies, cook a little chicken or beef (separate from the veggies, of course) and heat up some tortillas (flour and corn). Have salsa, guacamole, sour cream and any other condiments you like, and then just let everyone serve themselves. Veggie friend skips the meat, celiac friend goes for the corn tortillas, Paleo pal sticks with meat and veggies, and you and the other buddy plow into all of it. You get peace in the culinary land and don't have to make four different entrées.
I've been seeing a new guy for a few weeks. We hit it off from the start and find it easy to talk to each other. The other night I casually mentioned that I Googled him after our first date. He got very upset and said it was "creepy" and "bordering on stalkerish." I was floored by his reaction. I thought Googling your date was common these days — that's why I didn't think twice about mentioning it. Had he done the same, I'd have had no problem with it. I feel like I have to defend myself against something that I don't feel wrong for doing. What's the common practice on Googling new suitors these days? Or at least, what's your opinion?
— Guilty Googler
See how I didn't address you as "Guilty!"? That's because I don't think you're guilty of anything. Dude needs to chill. Googling your date is akin to asking around about a new person; it's just done online and less personal. It's not like you did a full background check on the guy. Jeez. You were just trying to learn about him, right? Honestly, I'm put off by how strongly and negatively he reacted. Is there something out there he doesn't want you to find out? You don't mention what, if anything, you did stumble upon, so most likely he's just a regular guy with little or nothing to hide. If you guys are off to a good start, I really hope this doesn't turn into a Big Huge Thing for you. You're not being creepy or stalkerish, Googler. You're just using the tools available to learn about the people you let into your life.
How long should you wait to Facebook "friend" a person you're dating? I don't mean official boyfriend/girlfriend status, but those early "I like you, you like me, let's date" situations.
— Wondering What "Friend" Means
There's nothing clear-cut in my Facebook Dating Guidebook about this one. Sometimes you meet someone in the bar and the next day they send you a friend request along with a message asking you out. Sometimes you start dating an existing FB friend, so you already know about their excessive TV watching habits and late-night drunken status updating. Other times you meet someone, go on some dates, know you're both on Facebook and for some reason don't instantly add each other.
Personally, my FB page is public and I have roughly 36 million friends, so I would feel rude denying a friend request from a new person I'm dating. I mean, if I'm willing to accept strangers, I should accept the person I'm having dinner with, right?
So it comes down to how tightly you protect your privacy on FB. Are you someone who accepts any friend request (the more the merrier!), or do you limit friends to people you know and — gasp — actually like? Are you dating more than one person and are worried that this will cause drama? (It probably will, even if you're honest about it.) Do your friends post embarrassing stuff on your page that you're worried your new crush will see? Are you friending them just so you can stalk and keep tabs on what they're up to? (Not something I'd advise. It makes you 12.)
As usual, it comes back to the Facebook privacy settings and how you use them. You can set it so that you have to approve tags from friends (and then deny the embarrassing ones). You can set it so specific people are blocked from seeing specific posts. Later, if the romance fails to progress to a true relationship, you can just delete the person. (As we discussed in my last column, no, you don't have to explain yourself there. Just delete and move on.) And dear God, don't go changing your status to "In A Relationship" without talking about it. But that, my friend, is another column.