Does a relationship count if it’s not Facebook Official? Like, if both parties haven’t updated their status, are they really truly together? Someone recently asked me about this because her new boyfriend hadn’t updated his status even though they already had the “we’re exclusive” conversation and had been dating four months. Her concern was that not making things official on Facebook meant he wasn’t serious about her and was keeping his options open.
(My response: If the concern is about him leaving a door open for other possibilities, ask. If he cares about you and wants to be with you, he will be concerned. And if he is in fact leaving the door open, that’s also good to know. Also is him changing his status on Facebook really going to make you feel better, or is there something he isn’t doing in real life that makes you question where you stand?)
Clearly, I think the idea of Facebook or any other social media platform legitimizing a relationship or ANYTHING IN REAL LIFE is crap. Doesn’t the Internet take so much from already? (I know, I know, it gives, too. Even relationships.) Do we now have to go online to confirm what we know to be true in real life? Welllllll, according to couple’s therapist Gretchen Kelmer who studies the role of social media in relationships at University of Denver, some research does suggest that “people who disclose that they are ‘In a Relationship’ on Facebook also report being more committed to that relationship. Even among married people, we found that those whose primary Facebook photos include their spouses are less likely to split up 6 months later.” (A recent online survey for Robbins Brothers, an engagement ring store, found that half of of the people they talked to said they would update their Facebook status right away as soon as she (or he) said yes. 75% would do it within a week.)
For new couples, declaring yourself boyfriend and girlfriend to each other, then to your family and friends— this process of relationship defining means so much, especially if it’s been a long time since a relationship has stuck. Maybe you tread lightly. Maybe you don’t like massive declarations. WHAT IF YOU AREN’T EVEN ON FACEBOOK???
Four months can be early for some. Even six months. We might be committed to not seeing other people but we also might be still assessing, and it’s OK to take the time to let a relationship unfold and honor how you are feeling. If that means your relationship status doesn’t make it to the news feed quite yet, so be it. It may be less about keeping options open and more about making sure it’s right. Because those damn broken hearts that pop up when someone goes from “in a relationship” to “single” are the worst kind of declaration at the worst time. (Cue sad tuba.) Stupid emoji.