Q: “My boyfriend and I can’t decide whether we should be ‘Facebook Official,’ so we figured we would ask you what you thought we should do. We’ve been ‘boyfriend / girlfriend’ for about two months now, if that means anything.”
A: Congratulations on your two-plus months of going steady!
I assume the two of you were going along, happy and in that early relationship honeymoon period we all know and love and miss.
And then one of you decided to broach the topic of “Facebook Officiality.*”
I reckon this is a conversation most couples have at some point these days, with the exception of people who meet while residing in senior care homes. (And even still, some of the elderly meet playing online poker or whatever, or have grandchildren who seldom visit, or have taken a shining to half-assed day-trading, and as such have delved into the frightening Orwellian world of social media—so they can keep up with things while Ben Stiller-esque dudes make them work needlepoint until their hands bleed. What better way to let your grandkid know that his moth-addled grandma is about to get re-married than via a social media post he may chance across while he’s studying his taint off for freshman finals at Dartmouth?)
It’s not a huge deal when you think about it, this whole “Facebook Official” phenomenon. Who really cares if you go public online with your relationship status? You would hope nobody. At least nobody who cares enough to begin Google-investigating the two of you as soon as he or she sees that you are “in a relationship.” Because that would be weird and, honestly, kind of invasive.
But then, it also kind of is a big deal. The vast majority of people anywhere near my age range use Facebook to keep others abreast of what is going on in their lives, and it follows that if they do this they will let their friends know when they are in an exclusive relationship, and with whom, so that said friends can check out at least a profile picture and then deign whether or not you are “totally batting out of your league.”
There’s no wrong way to go re: this debacle. I tend to err on the side of going “Facebook Official” because I’m the kind of guy who wants everyone to know I have a girlfriend,—that she is intelligent, reads for fun, and is (hopefully) easy on the eyes. And that I’m not sleeping alone as often as I used to.
But I’m also one of the most prolific online sharers of personal and sometimes inappropriate information that I’ve ever met, both In-Real-Life and on the Web.** So I would take my tendencies with a grain of salt.
If you and your man-friend opt to not go “Facebook Official,” then more power to you. You may scoff initially at the thought that your friends will ask why you haven’t made the move of proving your adoration via social media, and that you will have to explain it, which will be more annoying than just going ahead and declaring it on Facebook in the first place, but I’ve found (in my admittedly limited experience) that this isn’t the case.
It’s kind of like if you’re drinking a non-alcoholic beer at a bar. People aren’t going to ask you why you’re doing it, because they are worried there is a very legitimate reason that you will spend way too much time explaining if asked, and that it will be a story that bores them, breaks their heart, and/or destroys their very will to live. Folks will just assume that you’re keeping your marital status vaguely private for a reason, and may even respect the fact that you’re going against the perceived technological grain. It also adds an air of mystery. (“That dude is mysterious. You never really know if he’s with with Wendy or if he’s just with Wendy, you know?”)
But if you do take the social networking plunge, then I have a few tips for you:
- Introduce your significant other to your parents before going “Facebook Official.” Your fam is probably going to be hacked off if they find out you have a new main squeeze when they were executing a cursory glance of their news feed. Best to at least let him or her meet mom first. After that, it’s her responsibility to spread the union as she sees fit.
- Come to an agreement re: what you will post and tag each other in. You don’t want to be that couple whose one half posts 18 lovey-dovey photos and statuses daily while the better half remains digitally silent to the point of standoffishness. Split the duties and don’t overwhelm the chronically lonely folk who may see your posts. (I would even encourage taking photos you don’t share on social media. They don’t have to be nude. Just intimate. Or both.)
- Come to an agreement re: how you will handle the digital disposal of your relationship in the event of a break-up. I know this seems morbid and defeatist, but look: the odds are not in your favor that you will marry this person and then stay together until one of you dies. Be realistic! And be prepared! It’s imperative to have a contingency plan for a hypothetical situation wherein you break up. Sign a blood oath that covers things like how long you should wait before ending the relationship on Facebook, what will be untagged/deleted, and whether there should be an agreed-upon time period where you unfriend each other so that you can lick your respective wounds before diving head-first into updates about your former lover’s new life without you.
- Be prepared for the constant that is being in a relationship on Facebook. It isn’t like the old days, when you took a dude’s varsity jacket and put it on and off as you pleased, depending on company you were around or might run into. (Back then, you could hide a relationship from your other boyfriend until one of them proposed!) If you enter a relationship on Facebook, the older man you were hitting back in sophomore year will know. The broad your boyfriend lost his virginity to will know. Klout will know. The doorman at your apartment who has been working on a romantic speech to talk at you some night when you get home late and drunk will know. Everyone will know. You must mentally prepare yourself for that.
Best of luck in whichever route you choose!
*”Officiality” is a word. Look it up.
**The comment I most often get from people who have read a few of my blog posts is something like “You write about your D a lot.”