What does is-in-a-relationship-with really mean?

As a casual (and middle-aged) Facebook user, I am curious about the role the social networking site plays in romantic relationships among teenagers. When I was growing up in the West eons ago, teens who started dating would eventually have come to an agreement about whether or not they were going steady (e.g., committed to just having one romantic partner). If such a decision were reached, the lovers might tell their closest friends (“X and I are going steady now”). Usually only a handful of people would be told, though gossip would often spread.

Now with Facebook, the announcement  that one is in a romantic relationship is a public statement made simultaneously to hundreds of friends, including casual acquaintances, friends of friends, teachers and even frenemies.To me, making this announcement seems like a massive step—almost like a formal engagement—that would put a lot of pressure on the lovers, so I have lots of questions about the whole process:

  • Does the announcement have a definite meaning (like ‘going steady’) or does it mean different things to different couples?
  • How do the partners decide when to announce their romantic relationship through a status update? Do the two partners have to agree?
  • What happens when one partner wants to announce the relationship but the other one doesn’t?
  • Will it cause problems if one partner’s profiles says ‘in a relationship with’, while the other partner is ‘single’ or without any status showing?
  • If someone announce’s the relationship is it common to ‘unfriend’ people (e.g., teachers, friends of the family) so that they don’t find out?
  • Does it ever happen that someone falsely declares they are in a relationship with someone (i.e.,  there is no relationship)? What happens next?
  • Once you’ve announced your relationship, how easy is it to remove the status? That is, if you remove it,  do you need to discuss it with your partner first? Is removing your relationship status similar to breaking up?
  • Do partners ever use the relationship status as a threat (e.g., “If you don’t start paying more attention to me, I’m going to change my relationship status?”)
  • After breaking up with someone, does there need to be a cooling-off period before you change your status to single (e.g., is is OK to  immediately change from “is in a relationship with X” to “is Single” or will people think you are desperate for a new partner?).
  • Is changing your status back to ‘single’ considered an acceptable way to break up or should you always confirm the break-up face-to-face or over the phone first?
  • What is the purpose of the “is in a relationship, but  its complicated” status? For example, does it mean that you are dating someone but that it’s not too serious? That you are dating more than one person?  That you are dating someone but wish you weren’t? That you aren’t dating someone but wish you were?  What does it mean if one partner suddenly changes from “in a relationship with” to the other partner?

Help enlighten me!

Thanks.

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10 thoughts on “What does is-in-a-relationship-with really mean?

  1. Sometimes I just can’t understand how come people can show all personal details, including their mobile phone number, their address, ect. And now, more and more teenagers would like to show their relationship status. I see no point of announcing who are you dating, how is your relationship(there are may “choices” and “type” of relationship, such as an open relationship, a complicated relationship….too many!) I think this is your privacy.

    But I don’t have a antagonistic feeling to those who announce their relationship, it is their own choice.

    For the first question: •Does the announcement have a definite meaning (like ‘going steady’) or does it mean different things to different couples?

    I don’t think that the announcement means going steady as many of those are going steady actually in my experience.

    I think the announcement of “in a relationship” has different meaning of “X is married to Y”(of course I mean the couple who really get married). Although both of them means to share their happiness, really getting married is more acceptable for all people as they don’t need to “block” some specific people.

    As a conclusion, I don’t really agree students to announce their relationship status on facebook.

    • Gigi, yes, you should never put your phone number and address online. I can’t quite catch the meaning of the following points, however. Can you explain what you mean?

      “I don’t think that the announcement means going steady as many of those are going steady actually in my experience.”

      “really getting married is more acceptable for all people as they don’t need to “block” some specific people. “

  2. Mr Richards, hope I can solve your problem.

    •Does the announcement have a definite meaning (like ‘going steady’) or does it mean different things to different couples?

    >>The announcement of ” in a relationship ” is just a post to tell everyone that X and Y are in a relationship. Sometimes, to show the friendship of two girls or two boys, ( more common for girls), they can also change the settings so that they can be ” in a relationship ” in facebook. But actually, there’s no definite meaning for ” in a relationship” even though a boy and a girl changed the settings to ” in a relationship” .

    •How do the partners decide when to announce their romantic relationship through a status update? Do the two partners have to agree?

    >> This will be a problem for the two people’s decision. Anyone can send a ” in a relationship ” invite to any people, but the other people can choose to agree or not.

    •What happens when one partner wants to announce the relationship but the other one doesn’t?

    >> Easy. If X invites Y to ” in a relationship” and Y refused, X will have a post : X is in a relationship, and Y doesn’t have a post.

    •Will it cause problems if one partner’s profiles says ‘in a relationship with’, while the other partner is ‘single’ or without any status showing?

    >> I think that’s not related to Facebook. I think even though X and Y are dating, they can have different relationships on Facebook. To say in a other way, the settings is just a symbol for two people that they are close friends or they are dating.

    •If someone announce’s the relationship is it common to ‘unfriend’ people (e.g., teachers, friends of the family) so that they don’t find out?

    >> We can change the settings to ‘unfriend’ people so that they will not find out, but as Gigi said, it’s a bit useless. Marrying is something happy that everyone should know.

    •Does it ever happen that someone falsely declares they are in a relationship with someone (i.e., there is no relationship)? What happens next?

    >> I think if X falsely sent a invite to Y but Y refuses, X will have a ” in a relationship ” status but Y will remain single because of refusing it.

    •Once you’ve announced your relationship, how easy is it to remove the status? That is, if you remove it, do you need to discuss it with your partner first? Is removing your relationship status similar to breaking up?

    >>It’s easy indeed. You can just remove the status so that you will change back your status to single and the other partner will change to ‘ in a relationship ‘ but the other partner’s name won’t be shown.

    •Do partners ever use the relationship status as a threat (e.g., “If you don’t start paying more attention to me, I’m going to change my relationship status?”)

    >> I haven’t heard of something like that, but I think it’s a bit childish to do that, and it seems no one will do that. But you can change the status anytime you want.

    •After breaking up with someone, does there need to be a cooling-off period before you change your status to single (e.g., is is OK to immediately change from “is in a relationship with X” to “is Single” or will people think you are desperate for a new
    partner?).

    >>It’s ok to immediately change the relationship, for the question ‘will people think you are desperate for a new partner’, I think this is something that normal people will think, someone may think that, someone may not.

    •Is changing your status back to ‘single’ considered an acceptable way to break up or should you always confirm the break-up face-to-face or over the phone first?

    >>We don’t need to confirm for the break-up, you clicked the button, and you’ll change back to single.

    •What is the purpose of the “is in a relationship, but its complicated” status? For example, does it mean that you are dating someone but that it’s not too serious? That you are dating more than one person? That you are dating someone but wish you weren’t? That you aren’t dating someone but wish you were? What does it mean if one partner suddenly changes from “in a relationship with” to the other partner?

    >>You included lots of questions here, I think all the answers are acceptable. You can just imagine lots of things from ‘it’s complicated’, for the last question, I think you mean if X and Y are in a relationship, and Y changes to relationship with Z, at last X’s status will be changed back to single and Y and Z will be in a relationship again~

  3. HAHA~
    I missed some words for the first point, it should be:

    “I don’t think that the announcement means going steady as many of those are *NOT* going steady actually in my experience”

    Many of those who posted their relationship status on Facebook had broken up already. Most of them don’t last for 6 months. Therefore, I don’t think posting your status means “going steady”.

    For your second question, (“they don’t need to “block” some specific people”)
    I know some students would block or unfriend the teachers, family members ect. before they show their relationship status on facebook. It is quite interesting that, you are afraid of letting somebody to view your relationship status, but you are still posting your relationship status on facebook. Just that you tried so hard and did many things to prevent them from viewing your profile. It is quite stupid to think that what you have posted on the internet CAN be a secret. If you don’t want people knowing who are you dating, how is your relationship with Mr. X, just simply don’t post your relationship status (or anything you don’t want people to know) on the internet. Anything you post will never be a secret to anybody.

  4. Through Steven’s comment, I realized that the relationship status can be quite merciless.
    Seems that you can suddenly send a request to somebody, and you two are in a relationship. But on the next day, you can just simply cancel and change your status back to single. No phones calls, no any connections between the two people. Of cause, it is an exaggerate example. But actually it can be true!

    Seems that changing the relationship status on facebook is a game to some people?

  5. The couple should ‘confirm’ in facebook about their relationship, then it would be posted. If one of them didn’t confirm, his/her name would not be posted. And the relationship status of the one who had confirmed, would just be ‘in a relationship’ instead of ‘in a relationship with xxx’.
    They can block the friends that they don’t want them to know, therefore they can choose not to show it to the unfriend people.
    I think removing the relationship status without discussing with the other partner is nearly breaking up.
    I think it’s ok to remove the relationship status immediately without discussing with your ‘ex’ after breaking up. If you don’t want people to see it on the front page, you may simly delete the post.
    I think “is in a relationship, but its complicated” means that he/ she is in a relationship, but it’s not stable or not surely confirmed yet.

  6. 1st question: I think that the relationship status doesn’t necessarily have to mean ‘going steady’. It may mean different status. Some Facebook relationship status settings are ‘is in a complicated relationship’ or ‘is engaged to’ .etc, I think not all the people who have these settings are really in a relationship status like that. They just want to let the public know that they’re in a relationship. (does that make sense?@@)

    2nd and 3rd question: Both people have to agree and confirm the relationship status that is sent to one of them from the other. It’s their own problem if one wants to announce their relationship but the other one doesn’t.

    4th question: Some people may not want others to see their relationship status, so they hide who they’re dating with. Although I don’t see the point of that since they agreed to announced their relationship status..

    5th question: I haven’t heard much of that happening..but maybe it happens because they don’t want to parents to know or because they know they don’t approve of that.

    6th question: A lot of people with the same sex set a relationship status with their friends. It’s not serious (unless they’re lesbian/gay..). But I don’t think that people with the opposite sex will set their relationship status with each other if it isn’t real. It may lead to misunderstanding. That’s why it doesn’t happen.

    7th question: It’s really easy, you just go to the ‘edit profile’ page and you can change your relationship status anytime you want.

    8th question: um..I haven’t heard and don’t really think that people would do that..what’s the purpose anyway? They should just talk to each other face-to-face about their problems instead of using something so technological to threaten each other.

    9th question: It depends to different couples. Some may change their status immediately, some may change after they break up for a while. After all, it’s their own decision and they can change it easily with a click.

    10th question: I think the best way to consider a break-up is to talk face-to-face or by phone with the other person first. Changing the status to ‘single’ immediately without informing your partner actually shows that you don’t respect your partner’s decision.
    But again, you can change it if you want.

    Last question: I think anything can mean with ‘in a relationship but it’s complicated’ status. I think mostly it means that the couple is having problems with their relationship at the moment but can’t decide if they want to end it yet.

    *by the way, I agree with Gigi’s comment on Steven’s post :)

  7. What if a person’s relationship status goes from “in a relationship with” which includes that other person’s name, pic and link to their profile to just “in a relationship”? The family and friends of the first person already know about the relationship which has been going on for several months so why hide the relationship now?

  8. In a relationship on Facebook is very smple when you really look at it.

    It means, “I am officially having sex with this person” so I am unavailable to fool around with anyone else anymore.

  9. The facebook relationship is very complex but it just like a game.Some people want to show their friends that they have a partner and they aren’t singal anymore.It’s the popular mind of somebody.
    -Does the announcement have a definite meaning (like ‘going steady’) or does it mean different things to different couples?

    I think it doesn’t have any definite meaning.It’s just a way to tell people about A and B’s relationship.I saw some guys change their relationship into ‘going steady’ or ‘singal’,but many people like that(thumbs up).At first,I was curious.Gradully, you would know that people wants everyone pay attention on them.One more possibility is they like telling people that what they do,what is their lifes are.They love to share the things they meet.Therefore,they also like to change their relationship.

    -Do partners ever use the relationship status as a threat (e.g., “If you don’t start paying more attention to me, I’m going to change my relationship status?”)

    I have seen this case before,I think it’s quite boring.Having a partners isn’t for the relationship status,maybe some couples use relationship status to keep their relationship.But it’s very strange,people value the status more than the real relationship and each feelings.

    -What is the purpose of the “is in a relationship, but its complicated” status? For example, does it mean that you are dating someone but that it’s not too serious? That you are dating more than one person? That you are dating someone but wish you weren’t? That you aren’t dating someone but wish you were? What does it mean if one partner suddenly changes from “in a relationship with” to the other partner?

    It’s free and easy to change relationship status.If one partner A change from “in a relationship with C”,it’s means that A and C are partners now.But A and B are in a relationship first.B is very poor or it has many meanings.(e.g A and B just friend but they want to change relationship status so they became ‘fake partners’.)I think A and B must talk with each other face to face and solve the problem if they are couple.In somebody’s eyes,that status is important for them.Therefore,if A change the status,B maybe sad and confuse.

    As a conclusion,relationship status contain with different meaning.But you only see that ‘A and B are couple now’or something like that.Behind the sences,many secret will come out that you can’t imagine.Just click a button, your status will change.It’s a simple thing but people make it become serious or important.

    I think people should better understand themselves and their partners before changing the status.Otherwise,it also cause so many problems and misunderstanding around them.

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