Monday, July 25, 2011

Facebook and Relationships

I have been noticing again how Facebook can play a curious role in our intimate relationships. Here are a few examples of decisions that I have seen playing out online.

1. Someone I know who is having difficulties with her partner recently deleted that she was with him. He's still around, but to the online world, he's basically gone.

2. Another friend recently got married, and suddenly I watched as her last name changed from her maiden name to her new husband's last name. And then the comments flooded in from all of her friends, including a few surprised about the name change.

3. A younger friend of mine had a period where she'd offer nearly blow by blow status updates about her rocky relationship with her boyfriend. Some of this, no doubt, can be chalked up to being a teenager. However, for those of us who were teens before the Facebook era, all of that kind of stuff stayed within a certain circle. Now, it can travel all over the world, and lingers on in cyberspace, long afterwards.

Notice these are all women I mention. I do wonder if there are differences in how men and women approach Facebook when it comes to relationships. Are women more given to noting relationship changes online? I don't know, but most of the men in my Facebook circle don't have much to say about their relationships, or lack there of, on their Facebook pages.

However, given what I have read in recent years, there are certainly plenty of men who are using Facebook and other social media in some respect to their relationships. Perhaps men are offering more visual details, like frequently updating photos with girlfriends present. Or they are checking out the pages of women they like in real life for signs that she's still single. Or isn't single. And of course, some are using Facebook as a means of checking up on a partner, and/or even to gain information to control their relationships. Much of this activity is less visible than frequent status changes and comments, but it's still part of the mix.

How has Facebook impacted your relationships? How do you use (or not use) Facebook when it comes to your dating life?


  1. Hi Nathan, (are you surprised to find me commenting over here?) I am commenting because I have given a lot of thought about this in my own personal situation. Since I have split with my husband, there have been moments when I wanted to set my status to "single". (I don't have it set to anything at the moment - mainly because I figured it wasn't anyone's business.) The thing I have noticed is that when I have the urge to announce to the world, or at least my little FB version of it, that I am now single, it usually comes from a rather iffy place. Just the other day, I actually had the button ready to click when I realized it was only because I wanted to "get back" at my ex, who I had just discovered was seeing someone else already (or possibly had been for a while now). It was some kind of thing like, if he can do it, then so can I! But....yuck. Fortunately, I refrained.

    I have seen friends announce their various states of availability on FB and it usually kind of turns me off. Ultimately that is what stops me - I don't like it when I see others do it, so why would I do it? Maybe that and the fact that nearly every of his family members is my "friend" and I really don't want to hear from all of them about it!

    And to comment on your male/female observation - the only person I know who documented his break-up thoroughly on FB was a guy. For whatever that's worth....

  2. People take FB WAY too seriously. It's baffling to me that people will actually break up with others via a status update.

    As far as how to answer your question? I quit FB a while back. I hated it. So I'm unfindable there. I heard from friends that they thought I was pissed or something because it looked like I unfriended them. No - I just thought that thing was awful. So I quit it.

    Oh - and guys do this shit, too. For humor and train-wreck-watching, check out Lambebook or Failbook.

  3. Hi Robyn,

    Welcome to the other blog. And thanks for your comments. I remember a few years ago seeing a friend stop citing her relationship status on FB. And she posted an article about how others were dealing with that kind of thing on FB, and whatever it said, I decided to stop citing my singleness on FB. Nor have I mentioned the few short term relationships I have been in since then.

    Your point about motivation is also really important. There was a time early on in my FB days when I saw it as a potential way to meet someone. Hence the single status, among other things. But now, I don't see it that way at all, and would rather not report about a relationship unless it's become significant.

    Maxwell - I can understand your leaving FB. It certainly has it's negative points. The first 6-9 months or so I was on FB, I spent far too much time looking for people from my past, and trying to make new connections. Since then, it's become a lot less of a focus for me, although I actually now use it for both friendships/family and also as a way to get my writing out to a larger readership.

    Oh, I figured folks would offer counter examples to my gender observations. It's definitely not something I feel strongly on either way, and was more of a wondering, based on what I've seen.

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