To go Facebook Official or not to go Facebook Official?

    “Baby, do you want to go ‘Facebook official’ with me?” It’s a question every girl dreams of hearing. But now what?

    We’ve all been there, faced with the question, “Gee, do I really want my friend’s cousin’s neighbor’s sister knowing who I’m dating?” It’s a tough decision. While some may choose not to post their relationship status in order to maintain privacy, others like the idea of letting the world know they’re in a relationship. Still others may post their status just to appease their significant other.

    Couples may also encounter problems when they post questionable photos of themselves with other people, or send flirty, suggestive messages to others without realizing these acts are broadcast to hundreds or thousands of people. And even though many people are able to maintain healthy Facebook relations, others have encountered problems, even going so far as to say that Facebook ruined their relationship (ironically, several “Facebook ruined my relationship” groups exist). I surveyed 65 anonymous Facebook users through SurveyMonkey about their own experience with relationships on the social networking site, and 45 percent of respondents reported that Facebook caused snafus with their significant others.

    Why do so many couples have problems maintaining a Facebook relationship? Since there is no set list of rules to follow when “going Facebook official” and dealing with the aftermath, Facebook couples are left to trust their instincts. Based on the results of my survey, I compiled a list of simple dating tips for Northwestern’s couples to help keep Facebook from causing that little broken cartoon heart.

      Don’t let this happen to you. Photo by miss rogue on Flickr, licensed under Creative Commons.

    Anticipate humiliation.

    Before you agree to go public on Facebook, think about the consequences of releasing the details of your love life to all of your Facebook friends. You’ll have to come to terms with the fact that everything on your Facebook can be seen by your partner and, in most cases, his or her friends.

    Be aware that any questionable photos or messages can pop up on people’s News Feeds. One Facebook user’s girlfriend was sending flirty messages to another guy, and it showed up on everyone’s News Feed. Not only could everyone see that his girlfriend was in a relationship, but also that she was clearly interested in someone else.

    According to several survey respondents, humiliation (whether it comes from announcing a break-up or finding questionable items on your significant other’s Facebook) is one of the hazards you risk when posting your status. You need to decide if it is a risk you’re willing to take.

    Make sure to have “the talk.”

    When my boyfriend asked me if I wanted to put our relationship status on Facebook, I said no. I valued my privacy and I was afraid of what would happen if we broke up and everyone heard about it through their News Feeds. This upset him; he thought I was unsure about our relationship and that I didn’t want other guys knowing I was no longer available. When I saw how important it was to him, I agreed to put it up.

    I’m not alone. Sixty percent of the respondents to my survey said they’ve felt pressure for people to post their relationship status. Some insisted that it shows a sense of pride in one’s relationship and commitment. One user was even threatened with a break-up if she did not agree to tell the world she had a boyfriend.

    Regardless of your feelings on the issue, you should always consult your partner before you post. One respondent said that her boyfriend posted before asking her to be his girlfriend, which naturally led to confusion. Figure out whether you are in a relationship, in an open relationship, or if it’s “complicated” (I’m hoping it’s clear to you if you are engaged or married) before taking the plunge.

    Keep photos with other guys/girls PG, and keep your on-the-side flirting off camera.

    This should be a no-brainer, but if you are in a relationship, do not post photos of you kissing any other person but your significant other, or doing anything questionable that might make him or her upset or suspicious. Really, this is just asking for trouble. One user of the site found out that his girlfriend was sending out naked photos of herself through Facebook messages. If celebs can get caught sending out nude photos, so can you. Make use of the untag feature if foul play has been caught on camera.

    The majority of Facebook relationship troubles, however, were due to flirtatious messages. It’s bad enough to kiss and tell, but don’t kiss and tell every one of your facebook friends. One Facebook user said that she found out her boyfriend was gay by reading his messages.

    Also, if you want your relationship to work, sending the gift of handcuffs to a person other than your significant other is not a step in the right direction. One user noticed her boyfriend sent another girl the Facebook gift of handcuffs with a private message. She became suspicious, and it turned out he was cheating on her with this girl. If you want to remain attached, do not send the pink thong, a heart, or something equally suggestive to a person other than your significant other unless is it clearly a joke. If a friend or ex is sending you suggestive videos or messages (and you are not reciprocating), just delete them. This will show your significant other that you are only focused on them and no one else.

    Keep a low profile if you and your BF/GF break up.

    While you may want all of your Facebook friends to see your relationship status when you are with someone, you may not necessarily want them to read on their Newsfeed that the love bird has flown the coop. Tell the people you want to (instead of that guy who sat next to you in freshman year Spanish and your next door neighbors cousin) and disable your relationship feed and status before you break up on Facebook.


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