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Your Facebook relationship status: What isn’t “complicated”?

24 June 2009 6 Comments by Justin Dimos

relationship-statusWith only six options to describe the complex connection (or lack of connection) you share with another person, what’s a Facebook member to do? Obviously, your relationship status is one of the first tidbits of information a person looking to befriend and perhaps court you peruses when shopping for a new love interest. Nonetheless, whether you take the relationship status on your profile seriously or not, each dating update carries its own implications and reactions, some of which are disastrous, while others actually work to your advantage.

Single is another way of announcing to your friends that you’re on the market — but proceed with caution when changing your status to single, especially if you’re an attractive woman. As soon as your update appears on newsfeeds, expect a horde of drooling guys to send you their condolences and post invitations for coffee this Saturday. However, being single on Facebook has its perks, too. People may honestly want to pursue a relationship with you, and announcing your breakup gives those gorgeous and endearing friends the opportunity to subtly express their interest with pokes and flirtatious comments, without screaming over booming bar music, surrounded by sweaty sleazebags grubbing for your attention. In fact, newly single members may want to take the offensive as well by changing their relationship status as soon as possible, and finally trying to charm that stunning acquaintance with chat suggestions of ordering pizza, bottles of merlot, and movie nights at your place.

In a Relationship means just that — you’re officially off the market, you’re in a relationship with so-and-so. However, some members — especially unattached women — will opt for this status update just so their friends don’t automatically assume that they’re looking for love on the Internet (and perhaps also to shed those friend who just won’t take the hint). On the other hand, announcing your intimate connection with your boyfriend or girlfriend to hundreds of your online acquaintances and friends — all of whom are bound to poke, prod, and tease you, by the way — is a huge gesture to say the least. Sure, this dramatic change may seriously upset some exes and burn some old flames, particularly if the breakup happened only a few weeks ago and you’ve already started dating a mutual friend; but hey, it’s your profile after all, and if you want to take yourself out of the game and notify your five hundred plus friends about seriously dating so-and-so, that’s your choice. Of course, you should expect some fallout as well as some encouraging congratulations, but what are Facebook friends for anyway?

Engaged is pretty straightforward. Hard to confuse that status update with anything but a serious marriage proposal. In other words, one hundred percent off the market. Naturally, everyone will want to know the details, posting comments on your wall asking how he finally popped the question after three years, or perhaps commenting on your momentous update with banter about how she finally bagged you after all these years … hopefully all posted in good fun. Of course, engaged doesn’t always mean actually engaged. Plenty of smart women who are either seriously dating someone or just plain sick to death of Facebook’s silly relationship status updates will enlist a friend and plant an engagement. Suzie miraculously becoming engaged to Sally could mean anything. Truth is, some people would rather raise questions about their sexual orientation than leave the space empty or participate in the gossip game that Facebook can become.

Married, as one of the most uncomplicated and maybe the dullest relationship statuses, pretty much guarantees that strange people in your network won’t randomly try to friend you, if they only have one thing on their mind. Like engaged, a person could potentially arrange a fake marriage to take themselves out of the Facebook flirting game, but more often than not, married signals a serious fact, namely that there’s no way in hell that you and whomever will start a relationship. Especially now, what with all the happily married baby boomers discovering the Internet at long last and joining Facebook — only to tag their children in embarrassing photos from the days when you used hair gel — married has become a prominent status among adults. Truth be told, this status does solve some of the major problems with Facebook: you won’t have to endure chats filled with sexual innuendo, and you can actually keep current with your friends … what Facebook is supposed to do, after all.

It’s Complicated. Really? Your relationship with so-and-so is complicated? Well, what relationship isn’t? Perhaps the most enigmatic of the relationship statuses, who knows what “It’s Complicated” means, exactly? The common objection to this infamous relationship status update is simply that it’s just too darn cryptic. Are you or aren’t you single? Do you or do you not want to flirt and maybe meet up for a drink sometime? And who exactly am I going to piss off if I suggest a casual date for coffee on your wall? Wouldn’t it be great if we had a few more options?

  • “Now accepting applications” (a fun alternative to newly single and looking)
  • “Still holding out hope, though not hopeful” (a somewhat desperate attempt to cull sympathy from friends)
  • “Just not ready to date again” (an appeal for some more healing time)
  • “Why does she live 2,000 miles away?” (a suggestion of a long-distance relationship)
  • “Fuck that guy!” (which signals a messy breakup for sure)

In an Open Relationship honestly doesn’t mean much nowadays, especially when you include the person you’re casually dating. A more accurate description is: I’m kinda, sorta seeing someone, but if someone more interesting or maybe just more attractive comes along, maybe we could grab a drink and have some fun, which may or may not lead to the bedroom. Of course that sentence (or perhaps an even longer one) simply won’t fit on your profile, and I seriously doubt anyone will actually stick around long enough to read about how you’re somewhat, somehow, someway attached to another person, maybe. Let’s just call a chair a chair, right? Causal dating is perfectly acceptable, so you shouldn’t feel obligated or awkward remaining single on Facebook, particularly if you’re still interested in flirting, dating, or even screwing other people. You don’t need to single anyone out; and if you are indeed singling a love interest out, either commit or don’t, remain single and play the field or take yourself out of the game. If you’re genuinely confused about your feelings, there’s always “It’s Complicated,” and if you’re seriously dating someone and just looking to explore some sexual attractions or fetishes, find another site better suited for your desires.

And then there’s the total lack of a relationship status. Personally, I just prefer to keep my private life private, so I don’t go near this section of Facebook. Of course, some people are bold enough to start flirting with someone without a relationship status, which may always lead to that awkward revelation that they are indeed off the market, but that’s life. Short of a wedding ring on your finger (and sometimes not even then), there always comes a time when we simply have to ask, “So … you single?” Like any social network or dating website, Facebook will never give you enough information, but the best we can do is interpret the dating status, determine who’s strictly off-limits and who’s available for a limited time only, and then risk rejection and make a move, whether online or off.


  • Meghan said:

    I tried to say I was in a relationship with Manhattan, but Facebook wouldn’t let me. :(

  • Jeffrey Kishner said:

    I think Manhattan is in an open relationship.

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