I recently read a great blog from Black and Married With Kids in which the writer talks about how he won't friend his wife on Facebook. I totally agree with his theory.
The blogger said that in the beginning, being on FB with wifey was kind of cute. But it stopped being cute when old classmates from second grade started chiming in on his wife's comments or trying to get in on their inside jokes. He also wasn't a fan when his wife would sometimes hijack his account and change his statuses to stuff like, "My wife is the best."
I've noticed that people who are not even married are having to deal with how to handle their relationship status on Facebook. I actually know people who started off budding relationships on a bad foot because they had arguments about why one person wants to put down he or she is in a relationship, while the other person wants to keep his or her status as single. The offended party took this as the new beau not wanting to acknowledge their relationship publicly, and having something to hide-- not wanting to tell his female friends (one of which included his ex) that he was off the market.
But sometimes, the significant other really doesn't have anything to hide. They'd just rather not deal with hundreds of unimportant people all up in their business, especially when it comes to someone special. I've seen people purposely write ridiculous stuff to folks who are in relationships just to see if they will get a rise out of the new boyfriend or girlfriend. And I've been surprised quite a few times at people I'm not that cool with commenting on random, unimportant stuff anyway because that means that they actually paid attention.
I've also seen people in relationships change their status to single just to piss their loved one off during a private spat, which has now officially become public and ugly. In a matter of seconds, hundreds, maybe even thousands of people have seen the "Nina Lovehall is no longer in a relationship" with that cracked heart icon in the news feed, and now you are getting blown up on your wall with posts like, "girl you didn't need him anyway." Or "Nina, call me, it's Rodney. I will console you girl." This type of game-playing further infuriates your loved one, putting your relationship in very real danger off of something that Jerry Springer guests often say "could have been handled at home."
I've also seen male friends have to tell female Facebook friends they may have went on one or two dates with to stop harassing them about every comment or photo they had posted involving other women. It's gotten that ugly. One friend even had to tell a girl not to put a photo of them together as her profile pic or actually refer to him as her man, boo or anything else in her statuses. That may be a real extreme case, but you are bound to see just about everything on Facebook.
When it comes to Facebook, I take the Beyonce Carter approach. I don't discuss it. Am I in a relationship? Hmmm. Wouldn't you like to know?
But here's my history with relationship statuses: After a difficult breakup where my ex and I had many mutual and professional friends on Facebook, I was able to slink away unscathed with not so much as a question after removing "in a relationship" to not having a relationship status posted in my profile at all. I was terrified that if I changed it to "single" it would show up on the news feeds, and the questions and condolences would come flying in. At the time, I just wanted the comfort of my solitude with only small doses from my closest, closest friends. Not someone I met during an internship years ago.
Personally, for the sake of argument, IF I am with someone, I wouldn't mind being friends with him, but I don't need to say I'm in a relationship in a status including his name, and I don't need him to shout me out, either. It keeps the riff raff out of our relationship, and it keeps folks from trying to start some mess (i.e. obvious flirtatious wall posts, etc). I wouldn't even wax on and on about how I can't wait to see my boo later either in a status update. You'd be surprised at how petty people are. I've even seen folks get real nasty during a divorce on Facebook too. Just ugly.
My suggestion: As retarded as I think the whole Facebook-change-your-status-if-you-really-love-me fight is, it's a valid concern for some folks in this age of social networking. It's necessary to have the, "Wow, do we do Facebook?" conversation with someone you're seeing, just as if you are asking about their allergies or religion.
People have different theories. Some prefer the Bey/Jay kind of Facebook relationship, where it's no one's business, you don't deny or confirm, but when you see them together in real life, you know what the deal is. Some people like to tell the world and comment on each other's pages ad nauseam and constantly stalk the other person's page to make sure people aren't disrespecting their relationship and maybe even telling offenders to quit it. Some people feel like full public disclosure prevents sneaky behavior and helps them mark their territory.
But whatever you do, you've got to agree on what works for your relationship that makes everyone comfortable and secure. If you go the Heidi and Spencer public route, just be prepared for public comment on almost everything during, and even after, the relationship. (Damn that cracked heart in the news feed!)
As for me, the next time Facebook actually sees my relationship status ever again, it's going to say "married (now mind your business)."
TALK BACK: Should couples be friends on social networking sites and report their relationship status? And if your significant other doesn't want to announce your relationship online, do you assume that he or she is up to no good and/or unsure about your relationship?