A friend of mine suggested that I do a write up on this whole topic because it seems even after all this time, changing your relationship status online is still as life altering as any other experience. I tried doing some reading on it but frankly it got a little tiring so here’s my take on it.
Facebook like many other social networking systems have become a useful tool, connecting people all over the world. Relationships blossom, old lovers found, things made public and official to friends and family. But is the hype really necessary? Why does changing from single to in a relationship suddenly rock the world? And how about the tragic day when you have to downgrade your status? Certainly sparks far more questions than it might have when you changed it the first time around.
Facebook has several options to choose from: single, in a relationship, engaged, married, it’s complicated, and in an open relationship. It seems that your relationship status on Facebook exemplifies the be-all-end-all of your love life. Where claiming the ‘single’ life can be viewed as a tragedy and ‘in a relationship’ as good as married. Display your status to the rest of the world and you’ve pretty much labelled yourself, a mini-declaration. And whether you’re putting yourself up on the market, showing your commitment to others or leaving things open ended, at the end of the day, it doesn’t remain private. Facebook relationship statuses have become serious business for numerous couples, marriages and potential love interests. One wrong move and it all just might blow up in your face. Even going to the extent that if it’s not on facebook, it’s not real.
I distinctly remember a few years ago back when privacy issues on Facebook weren’t as severe as they are now. I had previously left my relationship status hidden (a handy feature many people should employ) to single. Within 2-3 days I received an onslaught of messages from boys suddenly wanting a clarification on the situation. The all too sudden pique in interest, threw my back a bit and for the first time ever, I realized the power of the relationship status on Facebook.
Years later, in an on and off again relationship, I decided to keep that side about me personal, revealing only to the few close friends who it mattered to. As a navigate through complicated waters with my partner, I decided one day as I was fiddling through my account settings, to change my status to in a relationship to cheer my guy up after a few rough events in the summer. It received two distinct reactions. First from my guy who became elated to see my status had changed, still fully knowing that this actually did not change anything in our situation and the second from my friendly public, who suddenly wanted all the details about my awaited reunion with my guy. Maybe its my fault for changing it, but seriously, I didn’t think it would matter to so many people.
The difficulty with statuses is that it doesn’t leave a lot of wiggle room. Unless under the it’s complicated or open relationship category, everything else seems pretty definite, which I suppose contributes to the overall shock when it’s suddenly changed. It’s not like the status reads single…but dating this cute guy who i’m totally smitten for OR in a relationship…but not happy and looking for some fun. It feels kinda binding and definite on something that for the most part, runs in fields of grey these days.
Being in certain status also alters your limitations. I know in an on-and-off relationship, the last thing you’d want to do is leave your status as taken, only to have every guy suddenly fall of the face of the earth because clearly, you’re tainted goods at the moment. What happened to harmless flirting or fun guy friends? It’s a common occurrence that once you’re labelled, a radius surrounds you and suddenly goes into off limits zoning. But how about the ladies who simply want guy friends? Is that such an impossible feat to have these days? And how about those guys with the hidden agendas, saying a few nice friendly things here and there and then when the relationship possibly ends, they get the idea that they could get into my pants a little easier? What if me and my boyfriend are about to break up? Is that when you seize my moment of vulnerability?
I’ve read about engagements being declared on Facebook first before friends and family knew, or that newlywed guy that reached for his cellphone to change his Facebook status before the ceremony came to an end. Funny or not, I think a little sanctity of the whole situation disappears when you’ve chosen to make Facebook your priority on for evaluating your relationship.
There’s also the issue of not putting up anything at all, something that I had to deal with for a while as well. Some partners (and from what I hear, mostly girlfriends) get irate at the idea that you aren’t so willing to confess to your current commitment. Is it really going to affect our relationship that much if I choose to leave Facebook out of this? Is this relationship about you and me or you, me and everyone else we can tell? Does that validate trust and fidelity in a relationship or is it not just another way to catalogue yourself as commonly as everyone else does, just because everyone else does it? Lack of disclosure will apparently get you into trouble these days as well too. Some people just don’t feel the need to go public and if you do, there’s clearly a disconnect.
And for all the players out there trying to play their game over Facebook, it ain’t working bud. Some people, take the easy route by permanently labelling themselves as ‘single’, despite the real possibility that he’s still fucking his ex. So how is that supposed to read? Are you trying to be obvious, or you just racking in the dumb ones and the ones who don’t really even fucking care. There are also those who take the open and complicated status far too liberally, trying to play the single life off when they have kids and a spouse at home (I’ve encountered my share of these) *sigh* Is this what’s it’s all come to?
There’s a tremendous amount of articles and speculation for both sides of the coin, professing the advantages and disadvantages of the Facebook relationship status. Go have a read for yourself.
Seems to me that It’s all a little too complicated….