Dating has certainly changed since the pre-Facebook age. Online dating is perplexing, Tinder can be humiliating, and Facebook can ruin a relationship. Technology has only made it easier for people to commit all kinds of social faux pas, like ghosting somebody after a series of great dates. In this era of internet-centric dating, making a new relationship “Facebook official” is an established milestone for new couples. But is officially declaring your relationship status on the world’s most popular social network actually a good idea?
Making a relationship “Facebook official” is a milestone that occurs on a nebulous timeline (usually sometime after the first few dates, or at whatever point one person in the relationship asks the other whether it’s time to update their relationship statuses on Facebook). But after that, everything else is a little less clear. Why does everyone feel compelled to declare their relationship status for all their high school friends and college acquaintances to see? And are there any compelling reasons that you and your significant other should link your Facebook profiles together?
There may be some arguments to be made for making your relationship official on the social network. (There are a few studies that suggest that people who post their relationship status on Facebook are more likely to feel committed to the relationship than people who don’t declare their relationship status.) But in our book, you really don’t need to officially declare your relationship, new or old, on the world’s largest social network. Read on to check out the reasons why you don’t have to make your relationship “Facebook official,” no matter what your college-aged self would have to say about the matter.
1. You may want to keep some of your personal information private
Your relationship status isn’t on our list of things you shouldn’t post on Facebook. Sharing the fact that you’re dating your new girlfriend or boyfriend won’t jeopardize your security online. It also won’t give online advertisers any valuable insight into the kinds of products and services that you may be likely to purchase. And it probably won’t alarm the relatives, colleagues, or college acquaintances who are among your Facebook friends.
But anyone who actually hangs out with you in real life probably knows whom you’re dating, or will within a few weeks of the relationship beginning. So unless you’re trying to broadcast your romantic success to the Facebook acquaintances you don’t really talk to (just don’t), you don’t really need to officially change your relationship status on Facebook, or publicly display it all.
2. Making your relationship “Facebook official” won’t make you more committed
For every study that finds that people who make their relationships “Facebook official” are more committed to that relationship, there’s another study that finds that people who feel the need to post about their relationship status online feel less secure about their romantic commitments or less confident about their partner’s feelings in the relationship.
Simply sharing your relationship status on Facebook won’t make you or your partner more committed to the relationship, and it probably won’t make you feel more secure in the relationship, either. If you regard sharing your relationship status on Facebook as an important step in a serious relationship, then it may make you happy to officially declare it on Facebook. But don’t expect that little “in a relationship” field on your profile to magically make you happier, more secure, or more committed to your partner.
3. Declaring your relationship on Facebook won’t make your relationship better
This is the ultimate in stating the obvious, but hear us out. People get a little obsessed with the idea of projecting the perfect image online. That may work just fine with things like your apartment, since everybody knows that you just slid the basket of dirty laundry out of the frame before snapping a photo, but it doesn’t work as well with things like your love life.
If you’re in a relationship that you’re really not that excited about, or dating somebody that you know isn’t a great match, it’s not going to make that partnership any better if you announce it on Facebook. Sure, it may be nice to upload a cute photo or two and get some likes, but that’s a very short-term emotional boost that ultimately won’t make you and your partner any more compatible or any better at communicating with one another.
4. Your photos will probably make your relationship obvious, anyway
If you regularly share photos and other posts on Facebook, intentionally and directly declaring your relationship is probably unnecessary. Photos of you and your partner together will likely make it obvious that you’re dating. And if your photos aren’t particularly prolific or unambiguous, the kinds of posts that you and your girlfriend or boyfriend share are likely to give you away.
There are plenty of people, both single and in long-term relationships, who don’t bother to directly declare their relationship statuses. If you’re an active Facebook user, your usage of the social network will likely make it obvious whom you spend your time with. So when you go from single to being in a relationship, your photos will likely make that obvious enough to your Facebook friends without an official declaration of your relationship status.
5. Declaring your relationship makes it easy to overshare
So, you’ve told everybody on Facebook about your new boyfriend or girlfriend. It may not seem like it, but that move may just pave the way for oversharing in your near future. You probably have those Facebook friends who post petty details about fights with their significant others, or post almost everyday about whatever sweet thing their partner has done for them. That kind of oversharing is pretty easy to do once you think that Facebook is a good place to share those details.
It’s probably better for your relationship, and for the sanity of your Facebook friends, if you don’t think of Facebook as the kind of place where it’s appropriate to share details about the things that your partner has done or said. An occasional post — the kind of post that you wouldn’t mind your family seeing — is no problem. But continually updating the world on how your day-to-day life with your partner is going may be a little too much to share.
6. Making things official opens the door for commentary
Even if you avoid the tendency to overshare, sharing posts that are specifically and pointedly about your relationship opens the whole thing up for comments. Facebook allows the friends of both parties to comment on a status declaring a new relationship. And all of those comments are something that you probably want to avoid if at all possible.
Most of the comments will be innocuous, and perhaps a little sweet. Others will be from sort-of friends asking for all kinds of details that you probably don’t want to share. And even worse, out-of-touch relatives may comment and ask about what happened to the last guy or girl you dated. Do you really need a better reason to hold off on making your relationship “Facebook official”?
7. Breaking up is more of a hassle when the relationship is official on Facebook
It’s usually not productive to think about how things might end when they’ve just begun. But if you need a final reason not to make your relationship “Facebook official,” just think about the obnoxious News Feed story that Facebook will automatically generate if/when you need to change your relationship status back to “single.”
If you thought that the comments people make when you post about a new relationship are obnoxious, you don’t even want to know how annoying people are when Facebook tells them that you broke up with your girlfriend or boyfriend. Expect to avoid questions that you don’t really want to answer and to get all kinds of concerned messages from people who are worried about you (or at least pretend to be).