The Terrible (But True) Reality Of Facebook Relationship Schadenfreude

By: Julie Gerstein / December 8, 2010

I’m not going to lie: I’m in post-breakup emotional triage mode. This means I notice more than ever when other people are wearing wedding rings, and whether or not their Facebook status says “single” or “in a relationship.” I guess it’s because my heart is feeling so raw and scarred that I am especially attune to these things. Something awful I have to admit: It makes me feel slightly better when I learn that a couple I know has broken up. I’m not talking close friends — of course I feel horrible for them and want to do everything in my power to make them feel better. I mean those friends who are more acquaintances — who I know more about through their random Facebook status updates than anything else. I wouldn’t wish relationship problems on anyone, of course, but when I see that someone else is going through a breakup I feel less alone.

Why is this? Well, I guess it’s partially because there is a little running tabulator in my head, noting how many single friends versus relationship-ed friends I have. Because I’m worried that at 32, I’m some freakish outlier because I’m still single. And when I find out that someone else is in the same boat that I’m in, well, it’s reassuring. It makes me feel slightly less like a total failure for having still not found my perfect person.

Rationally, I understand that life isn’t really a statistical game. But right now, I’m looking for reassurance that I’m normal, that I still have a chance at relationship happiness, and that I’m not going to be relegated to a life of cats and Lifetime movies (two things that are totally awesome, by the way).

Does it make me a bad friend? Maybe. I hope not. I would never ever make someone feel bad about a breakup. Hopefully this intense scrutiny will pass and I’ll go back to having more socially acceptable feelings about other people’s relationships. Until then, I’ll try and keep my schadenfreude to myself.