The other day I was reading the personal blog of an old acquaintance of mine who’s currently going through a rather painful breakup. She’s in her mid-30s, has been married at least once before and has children from two different men, so clearly this is a road she’s at least a little familiar with, which is why I was so surprised by her most recent breakup confession. She wrote on her blog that the hardest thing she’s done so far — that one thing that has made this breakup “real” in her mind — was changing her Facebook status from “in a relationship” to “single.” Really? I thought. It wasn’t telling him you can’t see him anymore, or getting the key to your apartment back from him, or returning the clothes he kept in the corner of one of your dresser drawers that made you realize how over and done your relationship is? It was changing a line in your Facebook profile that sealed the deal for you and made it real?Maybe I’m just out of the loop. By the time I signed onto Facebook a couple years ago, I was already in a serious relationship with my now-husband, so I missed out on any potential Facebook-related relationship anxiety. The only status updates I’ve made are from “in a relationship” to “engaged” to “married,” each of which was met with a chorus of “congratulations” and general well wishes. I guess the public notice of a relationship that’s gone in the opposite direction is met with its own chorus of comments from the peanut gallery — comments that while perhaps well-intended can make a breakup seem more devastating than it has to be?
All of this has me wondering about how and when a person decides to update his or her status to “in a relationship.” I imagine that could be as nerve-racking as changing it to “single,” right? Like, what if you haven’t defined your relationship yet? What if one person thinks she’s in a relationship, but the other person disagrees? Is Facebook sort of like a passive-aggressive way to make a point with the person you’re dating that you’re ready to be exclusive? Or, is it more like a way to announce to people that you’re off the market? Those of you who have navigated the waters of awkward or painful relationship status updates on Facebook, what have been your experiences? Did Facebook really provide the closure and answer you needed to move on?