Wednesday, October 21, 2009

In a Relationship? It's None of Facebook's Business

By: Guest Blogger NINA LOVEHALL

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?


  1. I must tell you that I LOVE your blog. I've been wanting to do one similar, but sadly, I don't date enough to have so many experiences from which to draw blog topics. Anyways, I completely feel you on this one. I would rather have no relationship status showing, than to go through the public display of changing it back and forth. If I had a significant other, I'd prefer that he didn't show a status as opposed to saying that he was "Single." Also, as for friending people you date - a few months back I friended a guy I was casually dating and then once we weren't dating anymore, I unfriended him b/c I got sick of seeing pics of him with other girls and wondering what each and every comment meant. In the future - no friending until I'm sure dude will be around for a while.

  2. Thank you, Yonnie! I'm enjoying writing the various blog entries. It's a lot of fun!

    This blog entry was my guest blogger's idea, but I agree, it's a great topic. Very interesting and it definitely makes you think.

    Thanks for reading!

  3. Oh, and I'm all for friending people who you meet and are starting to date. Facebook pages can be revealing. I think I said in one of my earlier blog posts that I once found out a guy was "in a relationship" via facebook. He told me when he met me that he was single. So that's probably an argument in favor of including your relationship status because you never know when your guy is going to get the urge to talk to someone else, and if she friends him on fb, she could find out he's in a relationship if it's posted there (as I did).

  4. I found your post via BMWK and wanted to comment. I met my boyfriend via FB. I have never listed a status AT ALL and his is single.

    He asked me when we initially became exclusive did we need a status change and I was like no because I've never listed a status in the first place and I was not interested in all the comments and questions that would be caused by showing a status change. He is in tons on pics on my page and if folks haven't figured it out after 5 months of dating then they never will. The only thing I asked of him is that he remove the categories being interested in dating or interested in a relationship. Other than that and having to delete a few haters on both our pages, things have been working out pretty good.

  5. Thanks for commenting, Tiffany! Sounds like you and my guest blogger have a similar philosophy.

  6. You can friend anyone on FB, just limit their access to your page, via privacy settings. Now, if you don't feel like going that far, save yourself the drama and remain real friends. My beau for a while repeatedly sent me FB requests, of which I completely igged. I proceeded to text and tell him that I won't gonna accept 'em so stop asking! LOL

  7. Hey, FabFem. A friend of mine intro'd me to your blog. I really enjoy reading what you have to say. My DH and I have been married 11 years and we have our relationship on FB. It's convenient for us b/c we have a lot of mutual friends. But I don't hack into his account and he leaves mine alone.So, I think having a relationship status is doable, but both parties need to respect one another's privacy. We do have some friends that had a break-up and there was some talk about it, but it was all in person, not on FB.

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  9. @dreamchaser -- Thanks for reading and commenting!