Posted by: itneverrainsinseattle | November 30, 2009

My Facebook Relationship Status

In a “summing it up in one sentence” entry on her blog, imgonnabreakyourheart recently posted:

His Facebook status still reads “Married.”

She was referencing a friend of hers going through a painful divorce. But it got me to thinking about how we wear our marital status in public, and the extent to which it reflects reality.

My wife joined FB several months after I did. She began building her friends list by going through my list and clicking “Add as Friend” as she felt appropriate. But she never listed her marital status, and I thought that was telling… albeit not really a surprise. (My status was listed as “Married”, but did not mention her by name. At the time that I’d joined FB, you couldn’t put someone’s name in unless they were a FB “Friend” of yours. Once she did join, and I saw she didn’t list herself as married, I was reticent to up the ante by linking to her specifically as my bride.)

Now, there are other ways we advertise our marital status. Truth be told, Penny stopped wearing her wedding/engagement rings some time ago. Two years ago, maybe? For that matter, I stopped wearing mine soon after the wedding. I think some context might help to show that our similar actions conveyed different things. First, I kept losing my ring. I’m not a jewelry person, and I’m not trained to keep track of such things. I don’t wear a watch for the same reason. And so on. Plus (he said, defensively), I had begun gaining weight after we wed… you see, Penny kept saying, “No,” while Ben & Jerry never said, “No.”

Penny, on the other hand, was a person who wore rings. So, when she stopped wearing rings after eight or so years of marriage, it seemed a little more… meaningful.

[I don’t know; perhaps I’m deluding myself. Maybe my not wearing a ring all that time only exacerbated her disinclination to sleep with me.]

After my wife and I had our first “Talk” about divorcing, I checked to see if discreetly de-listing (not changing, but making ‘unpublished’) my marital status would trigger one of those “So-and-So has changed their relationship status” posts. I have two accounts on FB, you see. When I first joined, I was suspicious of the whole enterprise, so I joined under an assumed name and asked a friend to “Friend me” so I could see what the deal is. Having kept that account around, I use it to test things like that. So my shadow account unpublished his marital status. No mention of it on my main account’s front page. So, I un-published my main account’s marital status, likewise.

As in the case of “imgonnabreakyourheart’s” friend, it’s a matter of acknowledging reality. While Penny and I are not yet separated, that is the path we are on. And there’s an important distinction between acknowledging your situation and advertising it. I don’t want a little broken heart icon showing up on all my friends’ FB accounts telling them I’m no longer married. I don’t want them to ask the inevitable questions after seeing my status change to “Single,” (which I’m not) or “It’s complicated” (which it isn’t).

And even if it were available, I’m not up for telling the whole world (except here, pseudonymously) that my status is, “Prepping for divorce.”

As it turns out, some other people are not so discrete about these things.

Penny has three brothers. All of them got married, starting with the youngest brother, then Penny (who, like me, is an oldest child), and then the  middle two. Imagine my surprise when, one evening while FBing, I see on my list of status updates that her youngest brother (with a broken heart icon) “is no longer married.”

He was online, so I pinged him. I asked if there was anything I could do. Nah, he said. This was the second time [his wife] had been sleeping around, and he was just tired of it. So, they were going to split up.

We had a good chat. Of course, I did not go into Penny’s and my own marital woes. (Although the topic of divorce had come up at a counseling session, I had shot it down. The topic had not yet resurfaced at that point… although it was heavy on my mind.)

I can’t remember if I told Penny the news about her brother or not; he had said I should, but I think I waited to allow the possibility that someone else would tell her, instead. I think I may have eventually told her, anyway. What I do know is that I did tell her I learned about it on FB, once the subject came up.

I think that’s what convinced her to join FB — the fact that I knew more about what her brothers were up to than she did, all because I was on FB and she wasn’t.

We have had many many friends announce their impending singlehood on FB, many of whom she has (or had) not yet friended as of the time of the announcement. I’ve neglected to keep her apprised of all this split-up-itude, mostly because I didn’t want to encourage that line of thinking. Of course, now we’re there, too. So much for that idea.

I’ve been watching as friends keep changing their relationship status. “Single.” “In a Relationship.” “Single.” “In a Relationship.” Oh, just cut it out.

I think FB needs to add a few new stati for relationships. They currently have “Single,” “In a Relationship,” “Engaged,” “Married,” “It’s Complicated,” “In an Open Relationship”, and “Widowed.”

How about, “Serial Dating?” Or, “Playing the Field?”

They should also have, “Frigid.”

And, “Men/Women Suck!”

I think the “Married” status should be available in three sizes:

MARRIED!

Married

(married)

With a tip of the hat to Leah (who inspired an upcoming post on the subject with a comment she posted to an earlier entry), I also suggest Facebook add: “Having an Affair.”

Of course, there’s “Divorced,” and “Prepping for a Divorce.” But, there should also be, “Pussywhipped” and “On the Rebound.”

Since, it seems to me, the whole point of posting your relationship status on FB is to let people know whether you’re available or not, why not trash the current labels and just go with these?

  • Interested
  • Unavailable
  • Desperate

I take heart in the comments that Nicki has been generous enough to share here, and they inspire me to think that, even given the likelihood of me and Penny getting divorced, my ideal Facebook Relationship Status would be this:

“Getting Better.”

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Responses

  1. I love this post, and not just because I received an honorable mention in it. The Facebook status stuff has always killed me! I started with ‘it’s complicated.’ And now I’m most decidedly ‘single.’ (What, they don’t have a ‘no husband, no boyfriend, no prospects’ option?)

    It will get better. I’m the eternal optimist. Or…I try to be. It’s far superior to being sad. Choose happy. Start small. It’ll grow.

  2. Please add to your list of status options my personal favorite: Born Again Single.

    Thank you for this posting. I don’t Facebook. I happened to be on the account of a friend to look at some pictures and noticed his “status.” I don’t Facebook because I truly believe it diminishes the quality of communication in our relationships. Your post made me all the more glad to not be on Facebook. But it also made me appreciate the huge announcement that changing your status could be.

    It’s been a long enough time for me now (3 years) but I do remember not being able to say the word divorce without breaking down. Having everyone know all at once would be way too much….

  3. Another incredible post.

    I joined FB soon after I decided to leave The Former Mr, so I never posted a relationship status, tho I did start seeing someone while we were living under the same roof, but separated.

    I still don’t post my relationship status because I don’t fit into any of their categories. I’d like to see these options:

    ‘Recovering from marriage’
    ‘Happily single’

    And maybe something along the lines of: ‘I am more than my relationship status’

  4. I have yet to touch the relationship status on my FB for a million reasons. I don’t find it every single persons business. Like the chick I went to Catholic elementary school with. Marriage and divorce seem to be to big and defining to just click a little button and have the whole social world know instantly.

    Bad Mummy I love your last option though…”I am more than my relationship status.” Awesome.

  5. PS On the Ben & Jerry’s…might I just say Chocolate Chip Cookie dough. I hate chocolate but the rest is W-O-N-D-E-R-F-U-L!

  6. You make me laugh! This post was so entertaining, it got me to thinking about my own FB status. I leave it on “It’s Complicated” because nothing between men and women is ever simple…and it also leaves people wondering. Since I like to think of myself as having many facets, for me, complicated can be a good thing.

    As to your B&J situation: When I read that, my alarm went off.
    I hope you’re not doing that anymore. If you need to get yourself back in shape, now is a good time to start. You’ll feel a lot better about everything in life…I promise.

  7. I love this – was actually contemplating my own post on Facebook and breakups because it’s a whole world of pain and complications. Just wait – if you and Penny do break up, there’ll be all the politics around staying/not staying friends, detagging photographs, etc. It’s like all the horrible breakup stuff made manifest. They might as well add some of your alternative options and be honest about it!

  8. I have entirely too much time to think…

    How about

    ‘Cougar-to-be’
    ‘Spinster’
    ‘Future crazy cat lady’

    And, now that I’m reading up on it:

    ‘QuirkyAlone’

    http://quirkyalone.net

  9. Mine would be “alcoholic and horny”

  10. Very funny. As someone who is addicted to FB, I’ve pondered a lot of these same things. The defining moment in my marriage-is-over FB status was when I tried, very discreetly, to just remove my relationship status from my profile altogether. I didn’t want to draw any attention to it, but then FB had to announce it to all my friends: “Snarkbutt is no longer listed as married” with a little broken heart icon. Goddammit, I was trying to avoid that! It was like trying to slip out of a crowded room unnoticed and knocking over a plate of dishes.

  11. I love all the new suggestions for relationship status! Men/Women Suck, Pussywhipped, Future Crazy Cat Lady – all great. It’s be great if you could just fill it out yourself. That way you could let people read into it what they want (which is the whole purpose, anyway).

    Relationship Status: No salsa on my taco.

    So, wait, is her husband the salsa, and now they’ve split up? Oh, wait, if taco is a euphamism…

  12. […] hated the idea of being defined by who I was or wasn’t with. I still hate this idea (although It Never Rains in Seattle has a great post on possible alternatives) but I’d stupidly changed it to In a Relationship a […]

  13. I got away without posting my marriage on FB for months until my “spouse” couldn’t stand it anymore and requested I confirm our “marriage”. Reluctantly, I did.

    Several months passed and *I* couldn’t stand it anymore so I removed it. My spouse was livid. My FB settings were as such that the “breakup” was not published and went without public question. My “spouses” setting were not private and the “no longer married” status flooded the news feed.

    I have since “un-friended” and blocked my spouse from my page. If only ending/leaving was this easy.

  14. I just found this post and can relate all too well to it. I too faced the difficult decision of what to do with my facebook status. I am technically married but getting divorced. My relationship is not complicated, it is non-existent. Why don’t they have “separated” as an option? I think that is more fitting. I made the decision to take down my status all together. It did not publish and very few people knew, until they noticed my husband not on my friend’s list anymore and all the pictures of us gone. It got me thinking. i admit I have been one to look at friends or classmates fb pages and wonder if they were still married. I am sure some people have done the same with me. Though I have to say at least FB gives you an option. Myspace is single or married. I am not single nor am I divorced. Even if i was divorced I am not sure I would want to advertise that. I am friends with husband but on FB we’re not. He chooses to leave it that way. I was curious what he put for a status, same as me, there is none. Sorry for the long comment, but this topic is one I have been debating over myself.

  15. […] be divorce, is out in the open for everyone to see.  I know INRIS visited this topic a while ago  My Facebook Relationship Status, which I just ironically posted a comment to the other day referencing my own relationship […]

  16. How about when you are in the divorcing stage and your spouse posts “widowed”??? Nice. I’m so glad our children have Facebook pages and can see what their father posts. Hence the reason I don’t post anything derogatory about him on my page.

    • Wow. Just… wow.

      That is just wrong. And funny. And scary.

      Good plan on not posting anything derogatory about your ex. Bad idea for him to post what he did. Are you quite sure he’s stable?

  17. Thank you for not just laughing. It is funny in some sort of sick way when it’s not completely pissing me off. I am wondering if you can send people fruit baskets and flower arrangements on FB just like you can coffees and drinks? In that case I can ask all my friends and family to barrage him with virtual sympathy gifts. LOL!!!! Stable is subjective :) He actually thinks he’s being funny and witty I am sure. Personally, I’m going to subtly delete my marital status and most likely never post it again but it’s ok because if any of the 350 friends of the husband read his status they will think I’ve died or maybe they will just get that we are separated. I think I’m almost facebooked out after this one…but great blog, it was a good subject for you to take on!!!

  18. LOL…Funny and so true. I could have run through several of those statuses. (BTW, I love your creation of the term “stati.” I like to say that my English degree gives me license to create words. How about these for penis: plural = peni, singular = penum. I amuse myself!)

    I’ve pondered this recently. The guy I’m seeing right now (and we’re pretty serious already) is not a heavy FB user. I have not sent him a friend request because back when I was having an affair with a married man, having him in my Facebook became difficult, seeing him post pictures of his wife and kids. I’ve since unfriended him. When you’re dating, you can drive yourself crazy with seeing FB updates and such when things aren’t going well.

    And yet, I’m dying to have my status say, “In a relationship with _____.”

    For now, it simply says “separated.”

    I suppose the action is ceremonious in some way…makes things seem more real, more sanctioned in our cyber-influenced way of life.

  19. So I was thinking, I really miss Inris’ posts and he hasn’t posted anything new lately. Oh, but wait- there was a time when I didn’t read his blog, and so here I go- back to all the old ones!

    Prepare for the comment bomb.

    Oh, and as for this- Personally I subscribe to the noneofyourdamnbusiness status. As in, I don’t list my status and I will not list it until I’m married. If I get married. These people who are in and out of relationships every damn week are irritating.


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