Writing left handed

Crossing The Rubicon: Navigating the Facebook Relationship Status

Crossing the Rubicon

Today’s post comes courtesy of my former flat mate and partner in crime, Meghan.  Meghan and I lived together in London and we spent hours “researching” the male sex during our time abroad.  I’m really excited about her story; for starters, she’s a web writer and a social media consultant (i.e. a damn good writer) and her tales of relationship woes always crack me up.  In addition, the subject of today’s post is rather near and dear to my heart (for reasons I’ll explain tomorrow).  In the meantime, enjoy!

This side of last year, I was 23 and I’d never been in a real relationship.  I’d never called anyone my boyfriend, and as I finally relocated back home to the east after three years away (two in London and one in Las Vegas), I didn’t see that changing any time soon.

I spotted “Adam” across the floor at the cavernous Casbah night club in dear old Atlantic City. 6’4” and sporting a serious Jersey white boy swagger, I knew I was staring at a welcome home present.  I was wearing my killer cherry red cocktail dress, sporting silver stilettos, and— oh yeah— already on a date.

“I’m ditching the DJ,” I told my friend to her great horror.  This was, after all, unusual behavior for me.  I was a chronic serial dater, but I usually managed to make it through at least an entire evening without deciding to move on to greener pastures.

One Fiji water and a Jason Derulo song later, Adam and I were on the casino floor playing slots and exchanging numbers.

I figured this would be a very convenient way to ease myself back into east coast flirtation.  Adam was a senior at Rutgers University, clearly not looking for a relationship, and desirably located at my best friend’s college.

After nearly two months of weekend hang-outs, G-rated sleepovers and daily texting marathons, I realized I was in a gray area.

I don’t do gray areas.

“All you two are missing is the Facebook status” seemed to be the general consensus among my friends.

This stuck.  And it began to grate on my nerves.  Every time I visited his page, the “single” status caught my eye like a diamond in the sun.  It felt like Facebook was having a laugh at my expense.

After six weeks of constant communication, I didn’t feel that “single” anymore— a curious fact since I’d dated people for longer periods of time and still managed to avoid getting even remotely serious.

Then those pesky, quasi-relationship questions starting plaguing me: did he still feel single?  Was he seeing other people?

This amorphous “thing” we had going on had reached a tipping point. I saw no reason to go through the stress of a relationship without any of the benefits.

Thanksgiving came and went without a text from him.  (This was, by the way, impeccably poor timing as I place more importance on holiday tidings than any sane person should.)

My right brain felt a little stung but my left brain decided it was time to embrace the single status that had been a staple of my Facebook profile for so long.

Alas, it was not to be.

Over the Thanksgiving weekend, I reconnected with an old friend of the family.  He was the quintessential east-coast Guido, which has always been my particular brand of male: gelled hair, gold cross, perfect (natural) tan.  He worked as an investment banker in NYC and made six figures a year. Best of all, my family adored him.

We strolled down Broad Street in Philadelphia and hit the swankiest bars, looking like we walked out of a Coppolla film.  On paper, it fit like a glove.

He immediately invited me to have dinner with him in NYC the following week.  “I see no point in waiting on this.  I would like you to be my girlfriend.  You can say ‘yes’ next week in New York.”

It was a satisfying offer.  I ignored the alarm bells that went off in my head (Too fast!  What about Adam?!  Is the money playing a factor here?!  Am I going to end up a trophy wife???) and calmly rationalized that I was indeed accepting the best offer – maybe I didn’t need to be single anymore, and Adam wasn’t exactly offering anything competitive.

So began my time-honored icing out tradition.  I typically find it easier than the prickly “it’s not working out” or “it’s not you, it’s me” conversations.  I ignored Adam’s texts and a few of his calls.  I figured he’d get the message and act accordingly – i.e. disappear into thin air.

Except he didn’t.  Texts started showing up at 3am.  The day before the Big Dinner in the City, I had four missed calls and three panicked voicemails.

My left brain waved the white flag, and I decided it was time to call and employ those investigative journalism skills I’d honed in college.

“So you’re alive!” he laughed upon answering.

“Listen,” I forged ahead, “no offense, but I’ve got another offer on the table.  It’s a good one.  Someone else wants me to be in a relationship with him, and if I accept, that means we can no longer communicate.”


“Ok. Are we done here?”  I tried to pretend his stoic one-word answer hadn’t disappointed me.

“I’m not ok with that.”

“Really?  Well you’re either going to have to match the offer, or that’s it.  We’re not really friends, quote unquote, and I won’t continue an illicit flirtation with you if I have a boyfriend.”

It was time to go all in.  I was going to make this as direct as possible and see how long it took him to run away (or hang up).

“I don’t think I’m ready for a relationship.”

At this point, I allowed myself an exhale.  He’d uttered the stale tripe all self-respecting women dread.  I could walk away now, right?

“That’s fair.  That’s fine, actually.  I knew that all along.  That’s why I’m telling you this now and not letting you find out on Facebook.”

“Well wait.  What would a relationship entail?”

Now I was getting annoyed, and slightly flustered.

“I’m not exactly looking to build a hearth here!” I shouted.  “It means you commit to me, and don’t see anyone else.  And we put it on Facebook.”

“Facebook?  Really?”

“Yes!  Both our statuses say single now, so they need to reflect the change!”

::Dead silence::

“OK fine, the thought of being in a relationship with me has caused you to drop dead.”

::Excruciatingly Dead Silence::

And then: “I sent you a relationship request on Facebook.  It took me a few minutes to figure it out.  I’ve never sent one before.”

Now it was my turn to pass out.

“I’m not near a computer right now,” was all I could manage.

“So what’s going to change?” he asked apprehensively.

The truth was, not a lot changed, and nothing really needed to change.  The hardest thing was to actually define the relationship in black and white.

Sometimes I still do a double-take when I look at my Facebook relationship status that staunchly remained “single” for six years.

Turns out Facebook was my own personal Rubicon.  Once it went up, that status was official and locked down.  No gray areas necessary.

Cheesy and a bit pathetic?  Maybe.  But for two people who made it a life choice to avoid “Relationships,” going public on Facebook was a big damn deal.

Crossing the Rubicon

Thanks, Meghan! xx

16 Responses to “Crossing The Rubicon: Navigating the Facebook Relationship Status”

  1. Landlord

    Cute, can’t wait to meet “your relationship”! I was reading this with your “voice” too, which makes it even funnier 😉

  2. ameliaflorencesimmons

    This was like a look inside my own mind, so THANK YOU. And also good to see someone standing their ground! Ah, the Facebook relationship issue. It shouldn’t matter, but it does. It’s caused me many a sleepless night of worry – and that sounds ridiculous, but I’d say it isn’t about showing off to the Facebook community as much as a good indicator of the relationship’s health.

    One boyfriend used to make fun of my Facebook obsession while remaining in FB lockdown himself – he didn’t have a proper wall, and put little to no info on there. I knew without even asking he wouldn’t be party to any relationship status updates. I couldn’t work out why this upset me so much, but when I thought back to how happily other boyfriends had wanted to put my name on their profile too, it made me think about how he saw the relationship.

    It all sounds utterly pathetic, but sadly in today’s society, Facebook has become a big part of relationships, whether we like it or not. Anyway, sorry for the long post, guess your blog really made me think 🙂 Thanks again, and congratulations! xx

    • Kat Richter

      I’m in complete agreement with you, Amelia– thanks for commenting! My last boyfriend actually asked me out through Facebook (as in I got the “relationship” request before he’d even asked me out in the real world!) I got kind of prickly about it and told him he’d have to take me out to dinner and ask me properly (which he did) but he told me he’d simply reached a point where he wanted to tell his friends about “us” because he was so happy that I’d come into his life.

      As for women who stand their ground… yeah… Meghan’s always been an inspiration in that department! (Except on those occasional morning’s when their was some sort of coffee pot malfunction in our flat– then she was more terrifying than inspirational, LOL!)

  3. Philly Tap Teaser

    Now the prevailing wisdom – “It’s not official until it’s on Facebook.” Funny how it no longer matters how you define yourselves to each other, or to your family, but how you define yourselves to all of your ‘friends’ on a website. For a long time, I didn’t have any relationship status listed because my husband isn’t even on Facebook, (and probably never will be). But then, I felt weird posting all of these pictures of my kids. In this public forum, I didn’t want people assuming that they didn’t have a dad. So, I changed my status to “married,” and I honestly don’t know why that made me feel better. In Facebook-land, my kids were now legitimate.

    • Kat Richter

      That’s funny! I didn’t even think about that… but yeah, I guess you wouldn’t want people judging you or your kids due to the lack of “married” status. Funny times in which we live…

    • Meghan

      If you’re not on Facebook, no need to worry about it! If you’re on a social network in these complicated cyber-centric times, you are expected to fully engage with it – i.e. change a status when the need arises. Does this supplant how your relationship is defined between you and your significant other or to your friends and family? No, not at all. But in some cases, platforms like Facebook can help two people reach a mutual understanding. If you’re not on it, then your close friends and family know they need to get information from you the old-fashioned way!

  4. sarahnsh

    My fiancee made sure to show me his Facebook page when we were dating and how it said ‘in a relationship’ pretty quickly. I don’t have a Facebook, and I’m not interested in getting one. Seems like too much stress, and the people I want to contact I can text to see what’s up. I’ve heard too many stories of Facebook getting someone worked up for one reason or another.

  5. Chicago-Style Girl

    This is a good post. You’re right that your friend is an amazing writer! The moment that led up to them being official felt eerily familiar. Yup. Anyways, cute couple.

  6. Katie

    Haha, I’m so glad I had that whole relationship thing going before FB was such a big deal (uhh… did that just make me sound as old as I think it does?). But, I think it’s adorable that he actually came after you — it’s just sad that you couldn’t bring it up with him before dating someone else because it might have scared him off. Why are guys such pansies sometimes? 😉


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