The Weekly Ringer

The University of Mary Washington Student Newspaper

Susannigans: Facebook Relationship Statuses Create Gossip

3 min read


Susannah Clark is now in a complicated relationship.

So read my Facebook page last week. I changed my relationship status to “It’s complicated” half as a joke and half as a social experiment. The reaction from my friends was immediate; “OMG r u ok?” “What happened with u and ur bf??”

For the record, my boyfriend and I are happily still together, and our relationship is no less complicated then it was two weeks ago. Though this might change now that I’ve broken that “I’ll never write about you in Susannigans” vow I made when we started dating. (Sorry babe.)

This Internet prank was really a test: I wanted to see just how seriously people take this social networking website. It seems that Facebook has become the end-all-be-all for non-confidential romance. The following exchange of gossip is typical amongst my friends:

“Did you hear that Buddy slept at Mary’s house last night?“

“Yeah, but it’s not Facebook official; they won’t last.”

Facebook has added a new step for budding relationships. Changing your relationship status on your profile is a sign of true commitment: you’re okay with other people knowing you’re dating someone. Refreshingly, my current boyfriend doesn’t have a Facebook account, so my public relationship status has yet to become an issue.

Ending a relationship on Facebook is humiliating. While I’m okay with my friends knowing that my favorite films include “Muppets in Space,” I’d rather them not be made aware I got my heart broken the night before. If it’s posted on Facebook, people are guaranteed to over-analyze and make assumptions:

“Jack and Rosie broke up last night, did you see that?”

“Mhmm, except Rosie changed her relationship status to ‘single’ while Jack just took his off entirely. I bet that means she dumped him.”


I got over that whole ‘let’s-broadcast-the-fact-that-I-have-a-boyfriend-and-you-don’t’ phase over a year ago. Like me, I find most people post their first serious relationship on Facebook, learn their lesson after the break-up and keep the box blank for future romances.

While I’ve found a way to stick it to Facebook-gossip-pushers by dubbing my relationship “complicated,” others avoid the question by posting obviously fake relationship statuses. According to Facebook, many of my straight female friends are engaged, married to, or better yet, “in an open relationship” with one another, though they make sure to list “Men” under the “Interested in” tab in case someone doesn’t get the joke.

Come to think of it, I can’t think of any instance where someone wasn’t joking when they listed their relationship status as “it’s complicated” or “in an open relationship.” Perhaps Facebook put those categories in there as a wink. They don’t want us to take their pro-procrastination web forum as seriously as we often do. You don’t have to be completely candid on the Internet. Don’t give the Gossip Girls any tinder.

And really, when is any relationship not complicated?