Friday, December 4, 2009

Facebook Relationship Status ... What does it mean to you?

By Lauren K. of the Love Kudos Duo LKx2

Lauren K. is now single. ... As this announcement makes your way across your FB news feed, what comes to mind for you? Facebook's relationship status label can bring some angst for newly joined couples, recent singles, and divorcees new to the dating market. I hypothesize that is why Facebook came up with the option of, "it's complicated." However, I always wonder how messed up that person's relationship is when they choose, "It's complicated." (Are they separated, in an on and off relationship, in some sort of threesome, or some other type of arrangement I have not even conjured up?) Out of all of the relationship status options, I would steer clear of that one.

There are six relationship categories Facebook users can choose from: single, in a relationship, engaged, married, it's complicated, and in an open relationship. It is interesting to note that users can decline to list a status, but Facebook estimates that roughly 60% of its users opt-in, with "single" and "married" the most common statuses. The first four categories are pretty self-explanatory, but when should you use them? A Jane Austen of Facebook has yet to emerge, let alone a Miss Manners, and no one seems to have a grip on what the social norms ought to be.( However, I am going to give you The Love Kudos recommendation guide, or rather, a collective group of opinions on the subject. Ultimately, you need to decide if you would like to declare your relationship status or hide it from your Facebook network.

      Image created by Lauren K. ; Statistics from

I polled a few select members in my Facebook network with the following questions, "When do think it is ok to change your status on Facebook from "single" to "in a relationship" status? Looking at the converse situation, how soon after a break up can u post u r now "single" again? Is there a relationship mourning period?" Of course, I will share my personal opinion at the end of this blog.  
A college student in a committed relationship said, "I think when two people are in an exclusive relationship it is either appropriate to hide the status completely or to change the status to 'in a relationship.' " The point here is that you are acknowledging you are no longer on the market. If one person in the relationship does not want to change the status and the other does, this may indicate that these two people are not in mutual agreement about the definition of their relationship. Facebook relationship statuses may seem silly or unimportant, but if it is a big deal to one person, the other partner should respect that. There is a pride factor and you should be proud of who you are with. Also, if you are dating a lot and want to avoid a complicated situation, hiding the status is completely appropriate. If anyone wants to know if you are available for dating, they can ask you. Another positive benefit to changing your status to "in a relationship" is it can help void off unwanted fb stalkers and random old men or crazy cougars.
A guy friend of mine, Brian felt that the label is just an extension of what has already been done for decades. "In the past, people would label their relationships too, but now with Facebook, its not only putting a label on the relationship but also letting the "world" know about it.

Emily Starbuck Gerson, a fellow Austin blogger, feels that as soon as exclusivity is acknowledged and you are officially boyfriend/girlfriend, it's OK to put it on Facebook. But not everyone likes those things to be public -- I know a few couples where they have no relationship status on Facebook, or they have "in a relationship," but it is not attached to a particular person's name. Since some people are touchy about it, I would ask the guy if he was OK with having it on Facebook before I tried to add him on there in my relationship status.
What Emily touches on above, when you connect your relationship status to someone else's, is one reason I am hesitant about the "in the relationship" status. Relationship status is the only declaration on Facebook that directly can involve another person. That puts two people in the social-networking mirror, and that, to borrow a Facebook phrase, can make things complicated. ( I don't believe there is an acceptance option for it either. Someone can hack into your account and put you are in a relationship with another Facebook User in your list of friends. Scary, huh?

Emily also commented on the ADD user that changes their status often. "I am perplexed when I see people change their status from 'in a relationship' to 'single' many times over in a short period. I'm not sure if they are dating one person with whom they keep breaking up and getting back together with, or if they start dating a guy and put 'in a relationship' up too soon into dating someone. I think if you change your status really often it can make you look bad; in that case, I would just remove the relationship status from the profile. If you're like most people, you have a lot of friends and acquaintances on there -- remember that every time you update it, everyone can see it! (There is a way to change that) People will wonder what kind of craziness is going on.

Regarding the option to remove your status all together, I am a proponent of this option if you are newly single, dating a lot, or use Facebook mostly for business reasons and therefore, want to keep your private life underwraps. On a comic note, here is one blogger's Pros and Cons list on the NO STATUS option, written by Anna G. Caliburg.

Pro #1: Perhaps not answering this question, could ease some unwanted attention from randoms in your network.
Pro #2: It simply refuses to acknowledge the nosy questioning of the Facebook profile form. Fight the power!
Con #1: Once the elimination of this category is on the newsfeed, you’ll get the standard “what happened?” comments. And because it’s by its very nature secretive-seeming, sometimes people feel like they’re more allowed to cross the line in terms of potential sensitivity/appropriateness. Yes, basically, you can’t win if you put too much info or none at all.
Con #2: Jumping off the previous Con, this is also one of the leading most passive aggressive ways to get attention from your friends! Everyone loses!
Con #3: What are you trying to hide, sketchball?

BREAK-UPS ... Click below
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What are your thoughts on the Facebook relationship status? We want to hear from you.Comments are welcome.  

Blogged by: Lauren K. of the Love Kudos Duo LKx2

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Some of the information gathered came from, May 8, 2009 and Facebook Statistics.


Ian S. said...

Ooh, great question! I am single but I do not leave that as my status. I think it's awkward to explain status changes and I worry that men who have single as their status could sound desperate or like they are trying to meet women through facebook (hope I'm not in either of those camps!). Also, I feel like you have to be in a relationship for a while before you become "in a relationship with X." And then you have to be in a relationship for even longer before a profile pic with a significant other is anything but gag-a-rama. Haha, it's so funny how complicated this is! Good luck Love doc Lauren!

Unknown said...

I think you should have an accurate relationship status on Facebook. When I lived in Atl. A Jewish guy contacted me through Facebook, and we went out- it didn't ever come to anything as far as dating, but to this day we are still friends. He would have never contacted me if I didn't have single on my Facebook status, and I would have missed out on his friendship. So I say in this day and age-you should use what you can to meet the "one."Good job Lindsey and Lauren this is great!You go girls!

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