Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Define the Relationship and then Comes the Facebook Change

By Carin Davis and Lauren K. of Love Kudos

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Lately, I have encountered a new problem with Facebook's Relationship Status: the false "single" indicator label. Do you know what I am referring to? It is during that transition phase when you're exclusive, but are not quite comfortable to announce to your 500+ acquaintances, friends, and family that you are "in a relationship." You don't want to be declared a Facebook "in a relationship" slut, constantly changing your FB relationship status every month or two, yet you don't want to send the wrong signals to your new man or woman. You're not sure if it is more than lust and you want to make sure you are solid before you go public with your relationship. What to do?

Here is Ryne and Carin's story from Jewishjournal.com: a cute awkward love story. I feel it is an honest representation of what many of us deal with dating in the 21st century during the super-duper information age.

Carin Davis

One night over dinner downtown, Ryne and I agreed we were just having fun. Fine by me. I mean, the fun was great, and it’s not like I started to have real feelings for him or anything. 

Nope, I was super-OK with the casual thing. Totally cool. I definitely wasn’t falling for him. Even when we started having fun more often and talking more often between having fun, it’s not like I wanted to know where we stood. 

Well, maybe I wanted to know. But I knew better than to ask. If you have to ask, you have your answer. And so having fun it was. Until one night over the phone, somewhere between discussing his day and planning our night, Ryne said, “I was cleaning up my Facebook page today, adding some new bands and stuff, and I changed my relationship status. 

“It used to say ‘single,’ but I took that off. I mean, I was just cleaning up my page, so I took off ‘single,’ since I was already cleaning up my page ...  And I forgot Facebook sends out an alert to everyone, so now 456 of my closest friends know I dropped ‘single.’ ” This is huge. Our relationship just took a technical turn toward commitment. Forget turning off his ringer, assigning you a speed dial or letting you watch “Project Runway” on his plasma — this is how the iPod-toting, TiVo-watching, BlackBerry-addicted modern man shows he’s ready to get serious.

On Facebook, you can list yourself as “single, engaged, married, in a relationship, or it’s complicated.” Like a virtual yenta, it immediately informs your entire friend list when you switch your social status.
So Ryne just sounded the cyberspace shofar. He took our relationship viral. He let all his other girls know they’re out. He let me know I’m in. I think this means we’re exclusive. I think it means we’re a couple. I think we just had The Talk!

I mean he didn’t change his order from mushroom to cheese pizza; he changed his Facebook dating status from single to — well, um, errrr, nothing.
Wait, I’m confused. He removed “single,” but didn’t add “in a relationship.” Awesome. As long as he was just cleaning up his page, why didn’t he just clean it up to say he was taken?
It’s like a half-step in the right direction — and a half-step in no direction. It’s like God telling Noah it might rain but not mentioning anything about an ark. Or leading the Jews to the Red Sea but not bothering to split it. Or bringing me a chopped liver sandwich but not serving it on rye. What in the World Wide Web does his half-change mean?

I remember the good old days of Internet dating. We’d walk uphill both ways to check out a guy’s online profile. But JDate is so four minutes ago. Now it’s all about Facebook. Letting friends of your friends of your long-lost Camp Ramah friends know what you’re up to, who you’re dating and who you’re SuperPoking.
But nowhere on the Web site does Facebook define its relationship terms. What does it mean to be Facebook single? Or Facebook nothing? Are Ryne and I dating but not serious? Serious but not committed? Not looking but not taken? A little help here.
(Skip: It’s like we’re definitely not milchig, and we haven’t discussed being fleishig, so we’re nothing. We’re the parve of relationships. Perfect.)

I’ve been dating for two decades, and I’m still struggling with the old “are we or aren’t we” question. Why can’t two people, who can talk about everything, talk about this? Men have more ways to communicate their feelings to us than ever — e-mail, texting, IM, Facebook, Jumbotrons — and yet we still have no idea where we stand with them. And no idea how to ask. 

And so, because I’m totally fine with just having fun and am not at all wishing, hoping, dreaming that this gets more serious. Because I’m too much of a kosher chicken to actually ask Ryne if a change in the cyberworld changes anything in the real world, I just change the subject. Yup, that’s me. Smooth operator — who’s stuck in relationship label limbo. Again. 

But not for long. A few weeks after all this, I threw on a black minidress, knee-high boots and a come-hither smile and met Ryne at Mastro’s for dinner. He was there with his friend Matt and Matt’s friend Greg. Greg asked how I fit into the picture.
“Well, Ryne and I are just having fun, and Matt is Ryne’s good friend.”

Ryne grabbed my hand, leaned over and whispered, “Baby, you need to stop telling people we’re just having fun. We spend all our time together; we’ve grown really close, and I think we should start using boyfriend-girlfriend.” And just like that, without status updates, Facebook friends or the Internet we had The Chat.
But don’t worry, Ryne still managed to immediately update 456 people.  

He stood up in the swanky steakhouse, raised his glass of Johnny Walker Black and announced to the packed room that he’d like to make a toast ... we just officially changed our social status to couple. 
And then we kissed one those amazing, toe-curling, heart-pounding, fade-to-credits kisses. And let me tell you, Facebook may be fun, but sucking face, face to face, is better.

Carin Davis is a freelance writer in Los Angeles. This article was published in Jewishjournal.com.

Article brought to you by Lauren K. of the Love Kudos

There is another reason why I brought up the false "single" indicator label. Stay tuned for my next blog on why you should never take the Facebook relationship status as FACE value. Do you have a Facebook relationship status story that you want to share? Write us.



Anonymous said...

Who really cares what your FB status is. I mean really...I can't imagine people sit around and talk about this kind of stuff. Are you in a relationship so you can post it on your FB page? This is retarded.

Thad said...

I love it. As a man, I've spent years dating and avoiding answering that question, why? Because, at least in my view, nothings ever black and white, and there seems to be a desire by the women I've dated to have the rules change once the relationship enters a different classification. At least a good number of us men like the natural evolution, and when strict lines are setup, at least some of us feel we are forced to make changes. You know, clean the home, give up football on Sundays, dress up and goto a nice restaurant, and sometimes that sudden jump risks failure. As for defining on FB, well I'm married now, so can't speak to the complexities, but the real question is who are you doing it for? Obviously Ryne made the clear statement, though I can't fault Carin for missing the full meaning behind that gesture, as sometimes people want a clear definition rather than a slightly ambiguous relationship status change.
Man thinking means making gestures without explaining the meaning. It's how men-men relationships work, and we have a hard time with the man-woman transition. Like offering to change oil in a car (for those of us with the skills and desire to do so), that is a sign of great affection, yet some women may not see it on the surface, whereas a male friend would.
I hope my long winded ramble at east makes some sense.

Flyness said...

I enjoyed every second of that blog. Ha! I hate that Facebook sends out a notification, even when you remove your status. This is able to be changed in your privacy settings, but it is not by default. Online dating is not "taught", but it should be!! I've met many women on Facebook too, so I can't really complain. Gotta take the good with the bad!

I'm a new fan. Great blog!


Thad said...

Oh Anonymous,
People actually care. Much like reality TV, or even the general idea of FB (and Myspace and others), there are people who follow your life (some a little more than others). And some people are proud to announce various events in their lives, whether people care or not. If you don't want to do it, then don't. It's a choice.

LK said...

I really do feel that people are obsessed with the Facebook Relationship Status label, and people do care in either direction. If you look back to my articles from 2009, you will see that it is a definite hot topic. http://www.lovekudos.com/2009_11_29_archive.html
Facebook estimates that roughly 60% of its users opt-in, with "single" and "married" the most common statuses.

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