Facebook Love: “It’s Complicated”

| Romance Columnist

The other evening, I walked in on a very heated debate: “He totally hooked up with Sarah!” one of the girls exclaimed. Her friend violently shook her head in disagreement.

“Nope, he’s in a relationship.” And before her friends could disagree with her, she announced, “It’s on Facebook.”

End of argument.

If you took my Facebook page at face value, you’d think I was a lesbian who was in a long-term, emotionally complicated relationship.

While most of my friends and I mock Facebook norms, I’ve heard people who I highly esteem discuss their Facebook relationship status with anxiety. In a world that increasingly revolves around the Internet, people are starting to care much more about what they are posting online.

I’ve even heard people lecturing one another that their relationship doesn’t “count” if it isn’t on Facebook, and I’ve heard at least five horror stories of people who have opened their home page only to be bombarded with a relationship request from a recent date.

I think it’s safe to say that most of us laugh over these trivial discussions—they seem ridiculous. Or are they? If you’re dating someone, but their relationship status says that they’re single, is it okay to want them to change it? Or is it a bad idea to ask?

In college, when dating can almost always be summed up by “It’s Complicated,” what is Facebook dating etiquette exactly?

The main complaint I’ve heard is that it’s an invasion of privacy. Just because you’re dating someone doesn’t mean you need to broadcast it to the world. So what exactly happened to privacy?

It died somewhere between people being able to upload photos and the creation of “FarmVille.” As a result, some maintain that you’re somehow “sticking it to the Man” by refusing to post your relationship on Facebook and admit to the world what’s going on in your love life.

I’m all about privacy when it comes to the Internet. But at the same time, if you have a Facebook page, people are going to look at it—and if you don’t want that, don’t have one. So if some girl from your orgo class sees that your status is “Single,” she won’t care that you’ve had the same girlfriend for five years when she sees you at a party a week later and puts the moves on you. As much as we all hate to admit it, what’s on Facebook sort of matters.

The best way to deal with this situation? The less said the better. You don’t need to post that you’re in a relationship, but that doesn’t mean that you’re still single. For some, maybe the safest bet is to just not have any information up there, so no one can misinterpret it.

The Internet isn’t real life, as much as some people think it is, so don’t treat it that way. So let’s not rush to the “In a Relationship” status. Don’t forget, if it doesn’t work out, you’re going to have to take it down some day—and we all know what kind of drama that can cause.

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