It may seem like a trivial concern, but for many couples, from the first awkward steps of a relationship to engagement, marriage and beyond, questions arise on how and when to change the all important Facebook status – a decision that didn’t exist a cople of years ago – frequently leading to heated arguments and in one case almost to divorce and/or death.
Lauren Booth, sister of Cherie Blair, found this out the hard way when she changed her Facebook status from ‘married’ to ‘single’ in a fit of pique; only to have a blazing row with her husband who then stormed off and crashed his motorbike, presumably while still suffering the effects of ‘red mist’. He’s since come out of a coma and the couple have reunited, but it certainly brings home the significance of that one little mouse-click.
Have you chosen to share your relationship details with Facebook, or do you find it simpler just to assume that your friends know you’re with that guy who keeps turning up on your arm? Let us know in comments, and read on for some tips…
In honesty, my main piece of advice would be to do what many happy couples do and simply don’t make your relationship Facebook’s business. The relationship field is not compulsory (and neither for that matter is Facebook, but that’s for another time) and unless it’s really important to you that you brag to your schoolfriends that you, the class geek, actually managed to bag a partner then there’s little need to share that information with the internet.
I’m not being entirely serious. We all want people to know about the good things that happen to us, including who our partners are. After all, your relationship is of enormous importance to you and you want your profile to reflect that. So how can you present it online without danger of rows and motorcycle accidents?
Here are some tips:
The reason often cited for displaying changes in relationship status is ‘ease of communication’, as it can be a quick and easy way to tell all your friends and family members in one click that you’re now engaged or married. Or, that it’s all off again and you’re single, avoiding numerous lengthy and possibly painful telephone calls. This is something to be celebrated and it’s one of the many ways that social media has revolutionised our lives.
But it this rapid exchange of information has its downsides too: your status change could be the way that the majority of your friends find out your wedding news, which is another factor to bear in mind when you change that status. Will the news come as a blow to anybody? Are there family members lurking online who might disapprove of your choice of partner and be rude enough to make their opinions known where all can see it? You might want to ‘lock down’ your profile before making the switch if you’re concerned about reactions, allowing only people in the know to see it. Think about changing your status from to ‘married’ on the day you do the deed itself. You might even want to make it a fun part of the ceremony, perhaps using your phone!
So much for disputes arising from outside the relationship itself, but what about within it?
If you thought that awkwardness over when to change status were limited to the days of dating, think again. Particularly at the ‘engagement’ stage, there can be disagreements over when to announce your status – partly because individuals, even within couples, can disagree on when the change actually took place. For example, I know plenty of couples who say they are ‘engaged’ but haven’t bought a ring or set a date. If both of them agree that they’re engaged then that’s probably fine: Facebook status can change accordingly. But if one enthusiastic partner opts to change their status to ‘engaged’ after a drunken conversation about possible future marriage, then all kinds of problems can arise. In other words, check with your partner that they’re OK with the update!