relationship status

Reader N. E. writes:

My girlfriend and I have been officially exclusive for a few weeks, and we’ve definitely had “the talk” saying that we’re “in a relationship”, she’s my gf, I’m her bf, all that. However, we haven’t updated our relationship statuses on Facebook to reflect this. She gets lots of flirty posts from guys on her Facebook wall, and I feel like if she would just put that she’s “in a relationship”, this would stop. Is it reasonable for me to want her to do this?

Dear N.E.:

I have a way better idea. How about you pee on her leg? Mark your territory! Make sure everyone knows she belongs to you and she’s no longer allowed to talk to anyone else, anywhere, ever! Why not make her cover herself entirely in a burqa when she goes out while you’re at it? Or forbid her from speaking to any man, anywhere? Better yet, make her delete all of her male contacts on Facebook. That oughtta’ fix everything.

Or you could quit being a jealous dork about things.

The relationship status option on Facebook is a hairy little object, and a cause of much distress in our modern, wackadoo times. I’ve had the relationship status backfire on me plenty in the past.

I once teased a guy I was seeing rather casually about changing his “single” status, because he wasn’t really single if he was seeing me exclusively. Instead of leaving it blank or just removing the status from view, he put that he was in a relationship with me. I couldn’t refuse the ensuing request, seeing as I’d asked him to do it, but it suddenly made our relationship a lot more solid than I’d been intending.

Once for April Fool’s Day, my boyfriend at the time and I changed our status to “engaged” and I put a picture of a ring up as my profile pic. Congratulations and comments abounded, including such gems as: “It’s not official til it’s Facebook official!” Needless to say, people were plenty ticked when we revealed it was a joke.

Basically, people take the relationship status on Facebook really, really seriously. It feels less serious than real life because it’s digital, and so easily changeable. Just one click and you’re suddenly single, or divorced, or widowed. But it appears to have even more of an impact on our lives than real-life symbols of affection, like going on dates, holding hands, or even kissing. Perhaps it’s so serious because people from around the world can see your relationship status right there on your profile page, whereas if you’re actually having a real life relationship, the only people who know are the people who actually see you in person.

In this sense, the relationship status can serve kind of like an engagement ring (albeit less serious) (and less expensive). You’re basically telling people that the two of you have decided to be in a couple. That’s just precious. Really. Shouting it from the rooftops is awesome.

So yes, you’re right — if she had that she was “in a relationship”, the flirty comments would probably stop.

But who cares? Does digital flirting really bother you that much?

The other side of the Facebook relationship status coin is that it’s really nobody’s business. I have plenty of friends who have been together for months and still haven’t changed their Facebook relationship statuses. It’s not that they’re not “serious”; it’s that the relationship is theirs, and not anyone else’s.

And, in fact, there may be several reasons for her not to change her status. Does she have a jealous ex lurking in her past that could get horribly upset if he found out she was seeing someone else? (Sounds like she’s into dating jealous dudes, if you’re any indication.) Is her mom extra nosey? Does she have a crazy sister who would hunt you down à la “So I Married an Axe Murderer”? Maybe changing her status has less to do with your relationship than with the fact that she doesn’t want snoops to know what’s going on.

So sure, you can talk with her about it. Or just send her the relationship request without bringing it up in person. She’ll either accept it or not.

But I’d question your reasons for doing it. If it’s because you’re deeply in love and want everyone to know about it, ok, fine, send her the relationship request. If you’re just jealous, don’t. I think you should work on being secure in yourself and your relationship first, instead of going around painting your name on all her underwear or something.

Think about it this way: if guys are writing flirty things on her wall, she’s a hot number. And she’s chosen to be exclusive with you. What a lucky dog you are, Facebook relationship status or not!


3 Responses to “relationship status”

  1. 1 DÄBé
    October 25, 2010 at 2:05 pm

    Clearly, the answer to this (and all other Facebook issues) is more and smarter buttons. LIKE and POKE are just not cutting it anymore. We need UNPOKE, DISLIKE, DISLODGE, and PLAN B at the very least. REPOKE would be helpful under some circumstances, although repeated misuse of this button could result in all manner of unpleasant side effects. I’ve heard some suggest RETARD, but this could be easily misunderstood, not to mention offensive to many. EVOLVE would probably be the most dangerous of all, since many of us have noticed that a good part of the population is already having trouble finding their asses or the 21st century with both hands and a candle.

    If Facebook really wants to stay ahead of the curve, they should allow one to create his or her own buttons. Single-word buttons are restrictive for those of us who tend to overelaborate, so multi-word and even multi-line buttons might be considered. Face it, sometimes SHIT is a wholly inadequate substitute for MOTHER PUS-BUCKET or WELL I’LL BE GOD-DAMNED AGAIN!

    MAKE IT SO seems long overdue. As busy as most of us are nowadays, buttons like DO WHAT I MEAN and YOU KNOW WHAT I’M THINKING, DON’T MAKE ME SAY IT OUT LOUD can’t come soon enough.

    I know I’ve digressed, so back to your main issue here: Facebook should be context sensitive and personally customizable so that your relationship status will display differently for different observers. For example, your “girlfriend” or “boyfriend” will see “In a Relationship”, while other candidates will see “Ready” or “Make me an Offer”, or even “None of your beeswax”, depending on mood, time of month, etc.

    We need to remember – and publicly remind others as well – that Facebook belongs to us, not the other way around. It should follow our instructions, wishes, and whims, instead of requiring our dutiful obedience. Otherwise, we’ll be spending the rest of our online lives trying to keep up with the latest privacy notice revisions, layout options, and pull-down menus that change hourly depending on….who knows what?

    Of course, if the rumors about Apple buying Facebook are true, all bets are off.

  2. 3 Brian
    November 4, 2010 at 4:55 pm

    Ouch. Don’t have to beat up the poor guy. It is annoying to see people flirting with the person you are with. If they are in a relationship, then there should be no reason why that shouldn’t be reflected on Facebook. If she is someone who doesn’t use facebook very much, that’s one thing. But if she is active on it, most women (in my experience) will switch their status and want you to switch yours too. I find it a bit sketchy that she wouldn’t change it and allow people to be flirty with her after she is in a relationship. Seems like she needs attention and doesn’t really respect the relationship much.

    And if she has some crazy ex…maybe it is time to de-friend the jerk and fix her privacy settings 😛

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