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He Said, She Said: The Facebook Relationship Status

When you start dating someone, you tell a few of your friends and family members, but not everyone in fear of things blowing up in your face. After all, who wants to explain their relationship status to extended family at a birthday party? You usually only tell everyone you know after you’ve gotten engaged and are heading to the alter, right? Well that was before Facebook decided to step in and provide options for your current relationship status which begs the question, when is the right time to go public with your Facebook relationship status?

Image Credit: The Huffington Post/Facebook

Image Credit: The Huffington Post/Facebook

For a lot of people, the way in which many showcase themselves on Facebook to their friends, family, and co-workers has come to mirror how they see themselves in real life. The number one indication of all the fun they’re having is through photographs, while status updates show others what’s really on your mind in that given moment, the “likes” show what you really like, and a change in relationship statuses announce availability, commitment or something far more complicated that you too can’t wrap your head around.

Of all the updates and personal news stories you make on the social platform, the relationship status is the single most heaviest because it directly involves the person you are with and pulls the question up for the two individuals involved—how serious are you? With the options of the relationship status, ranging from “Single” to “It’s Complicated”, it can put pressure on both parties and ultimately prove to be a reflection of how you two are truly doing in the union, which can make things interestingly complicated.

Facebook now has eleven relationship categories that users can choose from: single, in a relationship, engaged, married, it’s complicated, in an open relationship, widowed, separated, divorced, in a civil union, in a domestic partnership. Seems exploitative, right? Users do have the option of declining to even list a status, but Facebook estimates that roughly 60% of its users do, with “single” and “married” the most common statuses, while a recent study found that 43% of Facebook users use the social network to confirm the end of a relationship.

Life has changed since Facebook entered the scene. Posting your first kiss or when you first met your boyfriend, girlfriend, husband, or wife–details of your romantic life are no longer considered exploitative on social media. It’s a way of communicating with others how you are without really communicating directly.  It’s almost a form of social media etiquette when sharing parts of your personal life. But does altering your relationship status from “Single” to “In A Relationship” prove you’re in a committed relationship? Is it even necessary to “go public” on Facebook? Just how much is too much when it comes to sharing personal information on social media?

A survey by Zoosk showed that over 50% of women enjoy seeing details of their friends’ date nights on their social media feeds, while their male partners chose to keep their digital lips sealed; with only 37% enjoy sneaking a peek at their friends’ romantic adventures.

Some of the categories Facebook provides are pretty self-explanatory, but when should you use them and share such information? There are no real rules regarding social media etiquette and no one really seems to have a grip on what the new social norms ought to be. This week we hear from Paul of Austin, Texas who is wondering at what point in a relationship do you update your relationship status on Facebook to “In A Relationship”? Furthermore, asking our team of writers if that means he and his new girlfriend are now exclusive. Well, is he?

He Said She Said - Paul August 28 2013

Andrew says…

Paul, good question. I think the Facebook relationship status issue is one that varies for every couple. Some couples don’t put it out there at all and some do it the second they start dating. I personally think both people in the relationship have to be comfortable with it in order to do it though, since it require mutual acceptance on Facebook.

I think your best course of action would be to talk to this girl and tell her that as much as you value your relationship with her, you aren’t really the kind of person to put it on Facebook or at least not so soon. If she takes it the wrong way, then maybe you want different things out of the relationship.

Furthermore, I don’t think you’re over-thinking it. “Going public” is a significant part of a relationship even if, nowadays it can be done with the click of a mouse. I say wait until your comfortable with doing it. If that’s after you say those three big words, then do it then. Whatever milestone to you signifies the need to tell others, but just remind this girl that sometimes getting others involved a relationship messes it up and you want to make sure you start it out right. I don’t think anyone can fault you for wanting a smooth take-off for a new relationship. Good luck, Paul!

Sunny says…

Paul, you’re completely justified in how you feel because they are your feelings, so don’t be worried that you’re not following some protocol when it comes to this topic. If you’re not comfortable with having that public announcement yet or at all, or more importantly, aren’t really sure what that means as far as defining your relationship, you should definitely have a conversation with her about it.

A Facebook relationship status is a big deal these days and typically does indicate you’re exclusive. People you went to high school with, old neighbors, current neighbors, coworkers, amicable exes, even family are all going to know what’s going on in your love life, from her side and yours. And sometimes, if it’s what both of you want, that’s okay. However, if you’re not even sure whether you’re exclusive or not, in my opinion, indicates you guys should most definitely have a talk and try to get on the same page before publicly announcing a commitment you haven’t even officially agreed to with each other yet. Communication is key in all relationships!

And if you do want to keep things private and off social media, you should both talk it out and reach an understanding. It really is different for every couple. But keep in mind, if you say you don’t want to publish it on Facebook, she might feel like you’re trying to hide her or are ashamed of telling people you’re together, so approach that conversation with some sensitivity and choose your words and reasons carefully.

Don’t be nervous, though! If she’s that eager to let everyone know she’s with you, it’s a pretty good sign that she likes you a lot, too! Good luck!

Tania says…

Paul, I’m a very private person too and don’t really feel the need for updating my relationship status on social networks, so I understand how you’re feeling. I agree with Andrew and think it’s safe to say there are no real rules when it comes to updating your Facebook relationship status. You either update it or you don’t, but the key here is to communicate with this girl you’re dating.

Have you two spoken about exclusivity? Are you dating anyone else while seeing her? These are questions to ask yourself. If you are only seeing her, then my thoughts resonate with Sunny because I do think the whole “Facebook official” relationship status indicates that you are only seeing her and that you are two are very much committed to one another. You don’t need to freak out about it, trust me. Just take things to your own pace but let her know what you’re thinking. If it’s worrying you and you’re not ready for a relationship, you need to express these things to her, especially if you just came out of one? The thing about Facebook is that it’s become this modern hub of personal information that we share with close family, friends, co-workers, etc. Now the level of personal you want to share, is entirely up to you.

You mentioned “it’s so sudden too”. How serious are you two? Only you will know from the vibe you get from her when you both sit down and discuss this together. I do think in today’s world, Facebook has become a norm in some fashion and definitely translates to life offline, but this situation appears from the outside to be more of a commitment issue than a Facebook one. Are you really ready? Take the Facebook situation off the table and ask yourself, how do you truly feel about her. If you feel you can’t engage in the relationship at the moment, tell her. If she is perhaps exhibiting too much eagerness, tell her you’d like to take it slow. If she is more concerned about her social networking image by feeling the need to inform friends and family that she’s got the “perfect” life online, I would assume her priorities are a tad askew. I have had friends who updated their Facebook relationship status one day and then a few days later alter it to “It’s Complicated” and finally back after a month from sampling the options back to “Single”. So if she means something to you and obviously she does because you are seeking advice, I would sit down and talk with her about it and have this whole Facebook thing become part of the “exclusive” talk. If you want to go public with your relationship status after you say the famous three words, then do it. I think you and this girl need to start this relationship without anyone else peering in. You two are creating your own special little world and these starting points are essential for a long-lasting, healthy relationship. Focus on each other. Maybe tell her that. Let her know you want it to be just you and her starting off at the moment. If she cares about you and really likes you, which she clearly does, she will understand.

Whatever the case and approach you choose, I’ll echo the others and say to choose your words wisely. If you come off blunt, you’re going to hurt her feelings and possibly damage the roots of your new relationship and that won’t do either of you any good. She seems to be bananas over you, so I would take that as a great thing here! Good luck, Paul!

Drew says…

Paul, firstly, before I answer, I should clarify something. I’m from Scotland; and this area of dating is a little different in the UK. Generally speaking, we don’t “date” one person for a long time before considering them to be a “girlfriend/boyfriend”. In fact, it’s not uncommon here to start a long term relationship with someone, without having any traditional “dates”; and generally relationships here are exclusive, that’s not a “talk” that we tend to have.

All that said, I think the most important factor is that you both need to be comfortable if you are going to put a label on your relationship. If you aren’t ready yet to go public with the relationship, can I ask why not?

As much as I understand that she has done this perhaps without talking to you, is it not a nice thing that she is telling her friends that she likes you?

I guess my advice would be twofold;

  1. Talk to each other. At the end of the day, it’s the answer to pretty much every relationship issue;
  2. Enjoy it. It’s a new relationship, this is a nice thing, not necessarily a thing to worry about.

All the best!

* * * * *

If you seek advice from our writers, email us at thehudsuckerblog@gmail.com! Perhaps your question will be featured in our next installment.

While our team of writers have given their advice with the best of intentions, they nor anyone of this site assume responsibility for your actions or the results of them.

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  1. He Said, She Said: The Facebook Relationship Status | westlifebunny - August 28, 2013

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