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”?).
- 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?
Help enlighten me!
(I took the photo at the top of the page at Wu Kai Sha.)