content top

Is changing your Facebook status to “In a relationship” a new step in a couple’s evolution?

I’m ancient and Facebook wasn’t around when Jim and I met. We had the “are we exclusive?” and the “am I your girlfriend/boyfriend?’ and the “do you ever want to get married?” discussions when we were dating. We never had to broach the topic of how we’d announce ourselves technologically. It makes me nervous to think about in hindsight. What if Jim said he wasn’t ready to have my heart-shaped emoticon next to his name for all his friends to see? I would have Tweeted my sorrow to all my followers. Actually, there was no Twitter back then either, was there? I guess I could have updated my rarely-touched My Space page (if I remembered my user name and password, that is).

It does bring me joy when I see friends change their relationship status, indicating more love in their lives. I always feel a little ray of sunshine when I read such a thing. On the flip side of the coin, I get terribly uncomfortable when people adjust their status to single. I never know how to respond if I haven’t seen or spoken to them in person for a long while. It’s especially awkward if there is no explanation on their wall. Did he cheat? Did he die? Who left whom?!

I am usually so paralyzed by indecision on how to react that I’ll ignore it, or I’ll send a private message asking if everything’s ok. Breaking up can be so painful and life-altering that a simple adjustment on a Facebook wall makes it feel less important. Less weighty. And commenting on a wall post about a breakup doesn’t seem caring enough. I don’t understand the etiquette required.

My inability to transfer matters of the heart to the computer screen is probably an indication of my age/stodginess. Maybe I should work on becoming a little more cyborg when it comes to love.

Happy valentines day. Let’s all spread the love today — in person or online.

And don’t forget…we wanna show you the love by offering this contest: We’re giving away a copy of New York Times best selling author, Kate Braestrup’s book, Marriage, and Other Acts of Charity. It’s fab! Enter by clicking here.

Your comments

  1. jenna says:

    Thank you for raising this (and you are raising wonderful issues in this blog – I love it!).

    FB used to let you have your settings so that changes in relationship status would not be broadcast. They have removed this option. Having just gone through it, it is brutal to have to announce the end of a relationship to the entire world.

    And yes – it’s a “thing” now. You’re discussing your impending divorce with your husband and one of the things you have to address is: how do we handle FB? It’s ludicrous. He opted to give up FB altogether. I’ve been muddling through trying to reveal as little as possible. And to your point of wanting an explanation – what 150 character sound bite could possibly shed light on the incredible complexity of a marriage and its end? Especially if you are trying to maintain any level of civility or respect for your partner and shared past when addressing 500 of your nearest and dearest acquaintances and distant relatives. This is a moment when words (and technology) fail completely.

    • Robyn Okrant says:

      JENNA. wow. that is so brutal-sounding. thank you so much for being brave and sharing your experience. come to think of it, i’ve noticed other recently-divorced friends handling it the same way. kind of the new “who gets the friends” discussion in this tech-era. you’re a brave lady — FB is all fun and games until it forces you to reveal your private life. best of luck. xrobyn

  2. DGold says:

    I prefer to never update my relationship status. Even if I get married (God forbid) it will never be updated on FB. I don’t like everyone all up in my grill. FYI: “grill” was also not commonplace when we were younger. Times….they have really changed.

    • Robyn Okrant says:

      I love grill. Always and forever.

      And I don’t think I have my relationship status on FB either. I definitely don’t have Jim’s name linked as my hubster. It was for identity theft reasons initially.

  3. Marianne says:

    I’ve never put updated my relationship status so I would never have to update back to single if we break up. In Nov/Dec we were going through a rough time and doing a back and forth thing…can you imagine the bouncing fb relationship status? It was bad enough for my close friends having to hear about it…but those distant ones I can barely remember you people?

    • Robyn Okrant says:

      Maybe there should be an “in flux” choice on FB when we’re going through our rockier times.

      And you are so right — the last thing I need is my 2nd grade teacher knowing my relationship ups and downs.


  4. fd says:

    this is why i never put a relationship status on my facebook. and why i’m embarrassed when others do.

    • Robyn Okrant says:

      Yes! I’m embarrassed by it, too! I’m so glad someone else can relate because my FB friends think I’m ridiculous. x

  5. Krista says:

    Your mention of myspace reminded me of what my Jim wrote on his myspace after we broke up. I think its romantic now that we are married – and didn’t see it at the time.

    Bored with life in general. I’m stuck in a rut. I need to find someone who challenges me I had that someone but we had very little in common and it didn’t work out. She made me think inwards more than anyone ever had. I’m not exactly pining for her as I miss the specific feeling.

    I’m not asking for someone challenging I’m asking for someone who doesn’t always accept life as the way it is, seems to see inner capabilities in me that I usually can’t see. Challenging doesn’t mean you’re going to aggrivate me it means that we compliment eachother in different areas of interest. I don’t need someone interested in computers to get along with them, I need someone who has a general understanding though as I have a general knowledge of many things.

    • Robyn Okrant says:

      Krista. how cool is that? What did you write on your myspace page :)

      • Krista says:

        I broke up with him and was happy so I moved on…while obviously I didn’t – but he was unhappy. (Well, he broke up with me, but I forced him too.) And I didn’t have a myspace page :)

        • Robyn Okrant says:

          And right there — the perfect example of why it’s too complicated to try to explain our relationship status online. Maybe instead, there should be a daily “Emotional Status” emoticon. x

  6. Paula says:

    I changed my relationship status to “single” when we were going through a very rough time, and I haven’t changed it back now that we’re doing well because it was such a traumatic act to me. I’ve decided for privacy reasons it’s best not to have a status there. He opened a LinkedIn account, and listed himself as “single” on there, since there was no option other than that or “married” and we are neither. I made him take it off.

    • Robyn Okrant says:

      Paula — agree, my friend. We didn’t post marital status for privacy reasons too. I think it’s safer in a world where everyone’s stealing our personal details. We don’t post vacation/travel stuff until after the fact either. (I would have asked him to take ‘single’ off LinkedIn, too. LinkedIn, of all places, asking for relationship status?!)