Though Facebook was created to connect old and new friends, help you to network and share your thoughts, one feature of Facebook consistently seems to cause stress, anxiety and even strife – the relationship status feature.
A partner’s willingness to declare their love and commitment simultaneously to all their friends, colleagues and family members carries a lot of weight in today’s social media universe. It also means a LOT and is a big red flag when a partner refuses to list themselves as in a relationship with you…
I’ve seen firsthand through friends what happens when a partner prematurely announces a relationship on Facebook or torpedoes their relationship by refusing to update their relationship status. It’s interesting how such a new and seemingly little thing can make or break a budding new romance.
Now there is new research into the prevalence and use of relationship status on Facebook. The study, appearing in the Journal Cyberpsychology, Behavior, and Social Networking, surveyed 58 heterosexual couples — most college-age — who had been dating for an average of 19 months. The study showed that partners tended to be similar in how they used social media and the importance they placed on it.
In 45 of the 58 couples, both partners reported being in a relationship on Facebook. And in 31 of the couples, both male and female partners showed their dating partner in their profile picture. Interestingly, men were somewhat more likely to include their girlfriend in their profile photos than vice versa.
However, a potentially troubling gender difference also emerged. A woman’s indication that they are “in a relationship” was not as important to their male partners compared with how women felt about male partners indicating they are “in a relationship.”
“. . .men and women may place differential importance on certain public portrayals of the relationship,” wrote the authors, from the University of Wisconsin, Madison.
The study showed that couples do have fights over the relationship status feature on Facebook, which is probably linked to feelings of “jealousy, commitment and power,” particularly for females, the study’s authors said.
Clearly, we need more research into the growing importance of social media in relationships. But one thing clearly emerged from this research -Men…women think the relationship status feature on Facebook is important, ignore it at your peril.
How important is Facebook’s relationship status feature to you? Would you continue to date someone who wouldn’t list themselves as “in a relationship” with you?