Saturday, January 22, 2011

"In A Relationship With..."

The hardest thing I’ve done all year is… no, not write a book… no, not win a complex mortgage fraud jury trial… no, not even climb the Great Wall of China in December… it was changing my relationship status on Facebook from “Single” to “In a Relationship”.


Well, as many of you know, I got engaged and unengaged on Facebook not so long ago, and it was hands-down the most humiliating experience of my life so far.  A time line of the degrading events as they occurred in real time:

-          As of February 2009, I was “Single” on my FB account
-          In March 2009, I changed my relationship status from “Single” to “In a Relationship” (a “status update” was immediately sent to all of my FB friends along with a little red ♥)
-          In June 2009, “In a Relationship” became “Engaged” (and with it another status update and corresponding ♥)
-          In October 2009, I was not “married” as expected but instead, yep, you got it, back to “Single” (this time, the status update was sent with a corresponding…

Oh my, the drama and WTF is up with that broken friggin’ heart?!  I mean, that’s just downright mean.    

But, it was much worse than simple status updates on the Information portion of my FB profile over a nine month period.  It was much, much worse, because I made these changes for all of my FB world to see.  And, save for the last one (see “October 2009”), I made them on purpose due to the sheer happiness and genuine joy (not to mention blind love) I was feeling during my rapid-rate-of-speed-romance before it crashed and burned to the ground into a pulverized grease spot.  Yes oh yes. 

However, the change in October from “blissful bride-to-be” to “depressed and down-on-her-luck ex-fiancee with a $4000 wedding dress hanging in her closet” was not meant to be published.  Instead, I meant to subtly and oh-so-quietly delete my “engaged” status without anyone noticing – almost as if it had never happened.  There was one major thing I forgot to do though in my attempt to “disappear quietly”:  press the “Remove this from my Facebook feed” button.  Oops, to say the least.  From the moment I renewed my “Single” status, it was broadcast to ALL of my FB friends and all of HIS FB friends (including HIM because I had not de-friended him as of yet, another big mistake). 

My FB missive was immediately followed by a barrage (and, I mean a barrage) of “Oh, no, I’m so sorry!” and “You poor thing!” and “You must feel horrible!” (yeah, duh) and “I had no idea you two were having problems” and “Can I come over with ice cream and a copy of Bridget Jones Diary” (no, you idiot, that has a happy ending) and (last but not least) “Sorry to say I saw this coming!”  Ouch.

Like I said, humiliating, degrading, and mortifying were an understatement.

I vowed never again to post anything on my FB relationship status, not even Single.  No, when I’m someday married with kids, my FB relationship status will say… nothing, nada, blank, as if it doesn’t exist. 

So, you can see why I was horrified when the man I’ve been dating asked me just last week:

“Can you put ‘In a Relationship’ on your FB status, please?”

Panic attack commenced as of… now.  I went white in the face, thought I might vomit, and the room started to spin.  My palms sweated profusely.  There was a heartbeat in my head.  I actually thought I might be having a heart attack.  I am not exaggerating any of this.

“Um, hmm, let me, um, think on it, babe.  You know where I stand on this topic, and you know why.”

His face fell to the floor.  Ugh, I had hurt his feelings.  This was going to be rough, I could tell.  Just as I was about to wallow in over-indulgent self-analysis, he said the most interesting thing:

“You know, I’m really understanding about the fact that a book is about to come out about your love life before I met you.  Even though I wanted to burn Chapter 3 in which you detail exactly how you had sex with your ex-fiance for the first time, I didn’t burn it, and instead I’ve been totally supportive.  I’m even cool about you blogging about love every day.  But, this is where I draw the line.  Don’t you think I deserve to be recognized on Facebook, at the very least?  Your writing is one thing, but I want to be recognized in your real life.”

Wow.  He had a point.  I never thought of it like that.  In fact, I never thought about him, only myself (hmm, maybe this explains my track record in the romance department). 

So, after thinking about it for all of five seconds, I did what he asked – because he asked for so little – and because it was the least I could give (and I should probably give more).  I changed my FB relationship status to, you got it:

“In a Relationship.”

I have no clue what the future holds.  Of course I hope it has a happy ending, but I’ve experienced enough sad ones to know that may not be the case.  I may someday in the near or far future be yet again…

“Single”… And single on Facebook no less.

Or, I could be “Married with Kids” instead. 

Stranger things have happened… like a girl whose heart had been broken into tiny little pieces could walk into a restaurant and see a guy who somehow managed to convince her to move on with her life and take a chance with one single stroke of a key… well, really two keys:

“Delete” followed by “Enter”… followed by “Hello, it’s very nice to meet you.”


  1. Mademoiselle Lee,

    As an immigration attorney, I may have couples walk in, saying they married in good faith and not only because the immigrant spouse wanted a greencard. I normally take them at their word.

    On the other hand, my colleague attorney usually thinks the worse of clients sometimes. "I think he is really gay, and she doesn't know it yet." "She must have paid him for money, because they really are too different." "I think he molests his child, because she keeps licking everything in very suggestive ways." Ummh, yes, the last one, she did actually utter the thought. But I digress.

    Recently, she did a consultation with a couple. I came into the consultation towards the end. They met while she was working at a fast food outlet and sold him a good chicken sandwich. She has children. He has multiple pets. The wrong kind if you want to say you're a man's man, i.e. cats.

    And I've had the oddest of couples before, who really do love each other. Tall and short. Skinny and large. Shy and loud. Sane and crazy. I take their facts at face value. But my colleague, again, does not.

    We went to see what the omniscient FB had to say. So we checked her FB profile first. Yes, there she was, but no profile picture. Not enough to confirm it was her. Privacy settings set to friends only. Not unusual. We went to check his FB profile. We found him. Listed as single. Oh, okay, hmmm. But does this mean he really is "single" and lying about being married? If he is anything like you, he may simply have been scarred by past FB changes in status, even after being married.

    We looked to see if he had an FB profile. We checked to see if she was listed as one of his friends. He had 221 friends listed. He seems popular. Surely she is in his circle of "friends," as his wife. Umh, no. Hmmmmm, okay.

    What do you think?

    Winged Owl.

  2. First, congrats on moving beyond the "in a relationship" obstacle. As someone who found out about two friends' divorce through FB - not because of a straightforward relationship status change (because neither of them had indicated the change, possibly because it was hard for each of them to push "send" on that one), but because I sent the one a message and included a question about the other, oops - your friends who don't get to see you as much as they'd prefer thank you for your candor. No one knows what life holds. At least you know you've already experienced the reverse status update and you survived (and are probably the stronger for it), so there really isn't much sense worrying about that possibility in the future.

    Second, let me go geek on you. Anthropologists study FB and other online social networking behavior now. Many of the studies of these "emerging communities" (that's the jargon they use for this) explore how our internet selves are (dis)similar to our non-internet selves. Why are things different? Is it to hide something? Is it to patch over rough spots and regrets we've made? Is it simply to "move on" and start as something new? Is it even consciously done? If you can get past much of the postmodernist "discourse" and look at it more from a psychological or cognitive behavioral perspective, the topic is actually fascinating.

  3. Winged Owl,

    What a thoughtful post. As an attorney, I am probably more like your colleague - I don't trust anyone unless I've done the research to confirm it for myself. However, as a person... hmm... that's a different story. How interesting that your practice of law actually merges the two - e.g., in marriage. As for your client's FB status, maybe you need to show him my blog and ask him: "Are you like HER?" LOL. Just kidding. It's a tough question, but... if I've learned anything in the past week, he (and she) should probably change their FB relationship status. ;-)


  4. JKW,

    What you discuss in your comments is very much something I'd love to read an article (or book) on. Please start writing it!! :-) It really is true how we "create" and "edit" ourselves on-line. For anyone who has ever participated in on-line dating, how many times has the Profile Bio NOT matched the In-Person Bio? Uh, yeah, there can be a huge discrepancy and one is left wondering: "Did I misread him? Or, did he miswrite him?" A happy ending can never come out of that!

    xoxo Cav

  5. oh how i can relate. went from "married" to nothing on my fb status and changed my name (on fb and on my work email). ugh. a few things i found horrifying:

    1. paperwork status. official paperwork always asks for a "marital status". "divorced" is an option. why? i understand the need for "single" or "married" but why is divorce an option? aren't you just single then? is it necessary to know that i was married at one point? and rub it im my face every time i fill out a form? i check "single".

    2. OH YOU GOT MARRIED! CONGRATULATIONS! um. actually. the other way around. you feel like an a-hole for assuming now, don't you? you should. just because someone changes their name doesn't mean they got married. no, im not pregnant either...i got fat. thanks.

    3. friggin fb friends. i can't bring myself to de-friend him on fb. just can't do it. why? i have no idea. do i like torturing myself? maybe. i don't even like him as a person. but i feel the need to know what he is doing and who he is doing it with. totally mad at myself for this. he hasn't de-friended me either. it's like a little cat and mouse game. who's gonna do it first?! ps - the new gf? yup. check her out too. she sucks.

    soooo looking forward to your book. already pre-ordered it on my kindle! :)

  6. Joanna,

    I LOVED reading your comments. Oh my... so you've experienced the FB break-up too but it sounds like yours was even worse than mine. :-( Although it sounds like you've got a great sense of humor about it so HOORAY!! :-)

    Re. when the time is right to de-friend your ex... there's really no right time to do it. I had to wait a few months post-breakup. Honestly what propelled me forward was when I found out he was "talking to" his ex-GF again (the one before me). When I saw that she had written on his wall, I de-friended faster than the speed of light, and I never looked back. OK, I did look back a few times when I forbade my best friend from de-friending him so she could give me occasional updates from his Wall. But, amazingly, after the heartbreak finally wore off, I stopped asking her for updates (heck, I don't even know if she's still FB friends with him anymore). In fact, I haven't asked for an update in over a year. And, that... will most surely... happen to you, too. Promise.

    I'm so glad you ordered SAD on Kindle! It's really the perfect way to read it since it IS written in email, etc.