Becoming 'Facebook Official' may hurt relationships

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Photo Credit: Melanie Westfall | Daily Texan Staff

For some, becoming “Facebook official” is a necessary step in making a relationship exclusive. But while it’s tempting to share a new love online, updates can quickly evolve into oversharing, making followers and significant others uncomfortable. 

In the age of social media, one of the ways people used to announce their coupling was a simple change of their Facebook status from “single” to “in a relationship,” an action that led to flooded inboxes and notifications of likes and comments from friends and family members. However, in the last few years, substantiating a relationship status on social media platforms has become a faux pas.

Couples today are starting to move away from the once seemingly necessary relationship milestone toward a more private approach. A recent Buzzfeed reader poll, “No One Wants To Admit They’re In A Relationship On Facebook Anymore,” concluded that 43 percent of respondents claim to never put their relationship status on Facebook.

Communication associate professor Angeline Close said the tendency to posting repeatedly about your relationship could affect not only how friends view you and your relationship, but could also put strain on the relationship itself. 

“There’s more than one person involved when you share,” Close said. “Where the conflict can come in a relationship is when one party is more or less privacy-prone than the other. It’s all about understanding the other partner’s comfort.” 

Instead of exchanging love notes and gushing over one another via Twitter and Instagram, couples today are embracing the power of privacy. According to the Buzzfeed poll, only 31 percent of those in a relationship said they would post about their relationship on Facebook. The poll’s respondents advocate for those who are dating to go out and experience a relationship instead of posting about it on social media. The respondents concluded that posting about a relationship’s progress on social media could end up distracting those in the relationship from reality. 

The poll shows that there is no correlation between the frequency of publication about a relationship and how serious it actually is. Undergraduate studies junior William Stargardt has used social media to validate a relationship and said he understands the perceived importance of establishing a new relationship online. 

“I noticed with my first relationship that it was incredibly important,” Stargardt said. “I think that was something that came with relationship immaturity. I didn’t quite understand how relationships worked, but I wanted people to know that I was in one. I wouldn’t say that I felt less passionate about my proceeding relationships, but I definitely did not find broadcasting
it necessary.”

Social media’s purpose is to share, but when going on a date, Close said it may be beneficial to keep the romance between the two people involved.

“It’s not a bad thing to show that you love somebody over social media; it’s a beautiful part of it,” Close said. “But maybe people need to be a bit more cognizant that there’s negative, unintended consequences of their posts.”