The Relationship (Facebook) Status Quo

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By Alissa Medina > Freshman > Media and Cultural Studies > University of California, Riverside; Photo by AR > Sophomore > Graphic Design > UMBC
Displaying your online relationship can be a tricky experience. Once again you’re on, and when you’re off your entire friends list on Facebook has been notified of the breakup.

Kevin Castro, a student at California Polytechnic School said he and his partner were ecstatic when displaying their relationship over Facebook.

“I felt special, like as if our relationship could withstand anything now that it was out in public,” he said. “In fact, I think it’s natural for new and serious couples to be excited about their significant other and want to tell people about it.”

According to a study by CyberPsychology and Behavior, couples who share their relationships with family and friends find themselves “less [uncertain] about the romantic partners, greater relationship stability, and less likelihood that the relationship would be terminated.”


But does the happiness ring true for couples who share their relationship over Facebook or other social networking sites? Jackie Black, Ph.D., an internationally recognized Relationship Expert, said it does not. Relationships, she said, are living entities that need to be nurtured and respected just like special people in your life.


“If you are dating to find a partner with whom to build a life, then you need to be conscious enough and emotionally intelligent enough to understand that you are well served to keep your relationship –at all stages – off social networking sites, “ she advised.


CyberPsychology also found that Facebook has the potential to “[create] jealousy and suspicion in romantic relationships.”


The study suggested that the social networking site develops an atmosphere for jealousy to occur, especially in couples who find their significant other attaining attention from others.


People in committed relationships experience less jealousy, it noted, than those in newer, more casual ones.


With increased jealousy and suspicion, Facebook allows for individuals to connect with people they have might have never known in real life and may, in fact, be revealed to individuals who would make great friends – and, gasp – partners.  


Displaying your relationship status as “it’s complicated” or “in an open relationship” leads to “a lack of clarity about what you’re doing or not doing and the absence of personal responsibility to declare that you are available or not available,” Dr. Black continued. 


“It isn’t complicated at all. And the truth is that if you are in an open relationship that is mutually agreed to, why say anything at all? Just be available.”


So what should couples keep private and what should they share? Black claims they should share information that pertains to them as an individual such as “thoughts and experiences, hopes and dreams, and activities that are meaningful.”


Something you shouldn’t share on Facebook, she said, is information about your partner: “No complaining or being negative or critical, never disclose anything personal about anyone else,” she said. “Remember the old adage: If you don’t have anything nice to say don’t say anything at all.”


Citrus Valley College student Lauren Bautista agreed that couples should not share personal details about their relationships.


“I don't think anyone cares that you got in a fight every two seconds or that you're ‘so alone’ because you're not with him/her all the time,” she said. “If anything, the farthest you should go on Facebook is changing your relationship status, nothing else. Keep the personal stuff to yourselves.”

Having your partner on Facebook may potentially expose information about your partner than you would not have otherwise known. So, if you and your partner are skeptical on whether or not you want your relationship shared, the key to avoiding jealousy and confusion is to communicate with each other about whether you’re prepared for the attention from friends and family.


This article is the third in a week-long series of stories about online relationship etiquette. Check back tomorrow for the next addition!

College Magazine Staff

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