Tag Archives: relationship status
This post is inspired by another post on Tango.com where it was noted that this new Google+ site doesn’t have “divorced” as an option for a relationship status. I tend to think that was not an oversight and also probably a good idea.
It led me to ponder something that really bothers me. What should my relationship status be on social networking sites?
Here’s the technical truth: I am not dating anyone, casually or seriously, no one, nada, nothing. BUT, I had been married for many years, had children, and my divorce is final, done, released from the bonds of matrimony, papers signed and stamped. So ordered. That said, what box should I check in the cyber-world, what boxes should there be, what do I say when meeting someone? What exactly is my relationship status?
We all know what “Married” means. I’m not married. Next . . .
Single? The meaning of this word has changed in usage. Some very young people might not even know that traditionally single meant unmarried, period. Didn’t matter if you were in a committed, monogamous, serious relationship or even engaged. If you aren’t married, you are single. Thus, it was a term reserved for adults of marrying age. It wasn’t a relationship status, it was a marital status. Now the word is used to describe one’s availability for new dating/romantic/sexual relationships.
But in this society is a woman allowed to say single if she’s been down the aisle? Ironically, it’s okay to say single all you want if you’ve been around the block many times, or have a string of horrible failed relationships, but once down that aisle, you are forever DIVORCED, according to social networking.
Yet “Divorced” is not really a relationship status at all, really. I mean if I say divorced I am really talking about how one — not even my last — relationship ended. To be fair, if I have to check “Divorced” and constantly reference the end of that relationship, shouldn’t others have to say how their last major relationship ended? For example, there should be boxes for broken engagement, runaway bride, kicked out, restraining order, etc. . . ?
Isn’t “Relationship Status” supposed to be a description — a snapshot of the here and now? Isn’t it just asking whether you already have somebody or if are open to meeting someone? The Facebook dude Mark Zuckerberg created the site while he was in a four-year, private, residential university. No undergrads were married or divorced in his demographic, so the whole marital status thing was completely irrelevant to the original Facebook users, and its concept.
Who can forget that scene in the film “The Social Network” where Zuckerberg has the realization that what was missing from Facebook was the “relationship status” option, and he says,
“This is what drives life in college: Are you having sex or aren’t you? It’s why people take certain classes and sit where they sit and do what they do … that’s what The Facebook is gonna be about.”
Duh. That’s what social networking is about. But again, the category “Divorced” does not give any information about whether I’m having sex or am looking to do so.
But can I check the Single box if I’m divorced?
Do I want to?
Does it negate the fact that I was married? A marriage which yielded children?
Am I selling myself short by checking Single and not acknowledging that I have in the past committed to a relationship (read: gotten someone to marry me)?
Actually, I think this is more of an issue for older men. Women are leery of a man past his mid-thirties who has never married, wondering either what’s wrong with him or assuming he is afraid to commit. Although, I guess a woman benefits from checking Divorced if she wants to sidestep the “Spinster” label or false Lesbian rumor — which is sometimes the unspoken assigned fate or status of an older unmarried woman. Sigh.
Or does Single mean never married? Suggesting someone who is single is somewhat virginal, pure? Well, if it does, let’s just call it that. But I still don’t think that’s the point. And never having walked down the aisle does not mean you’re a virgin. I mean you can tell your mother that, but c’mon folks.
For “Sex and The City” fans, remember when Miranda, a never married mother, was shopping for her wedding dress and instructs the saleswoman, “I said, no white, no ivory, no nothing that says ‘virgin’. I have a child. The jig is up.” ? Well, I have children. The jig is up. I’m not virgin. I was, however, married before I had them, and my Ex-husband is their father. So according to my mother I should get credit for not having been an “unwed” mother, or not being part of the stereotypical baby mama/daddy drama. Okay, but all of that relates to the status of my relationship with my children’s father. It’s not my current relationship status? Must I forever be defined by my relationship with him? humph. I don’t want to stamp my forehead or profile or chest with “Failed Marriage” forever — or until I marry again. That’s just not fair.
The Divorced option shouldn’t even be there. Really, it doesn’t make sense. My Ex-husband is also divorced, obviously. Yet he has remarried. So how can his relationship status be married while mine is divorced? No! No! No! He’s married, I’m single. I mean someone can be divorced or widowed previously and yet currently be in a relationship, engaged, married or completely available. I should be able to wave my naked left hand and do Beyoncé’s Single Ladies dance even though I was once married, just as he has been able to have a wedding and sport a new ring even though he had been married before — and the social networking sites should acknowledge both my new singleness and his new marriage — without reference to our past divorce.
In conversations in real life I prefer to tell people I’m single and then add as part of conversation, yes, I have children, and yes, I’m divorced. For a minute I thought I should create a new status, “Dwingle” — it would acknowledge an earlier marriage (for the children’s sake), but still sounds almost single. But really, the last thing any of us need is another relationship status, another option, another box to check.
I think I’m going to refuse to reference my failed marriage as my calling card. It’ll come up in conversation, but I don’t have to wear it as some sort of a badge or sign. The ring is off. It’s done. I mean there are some “never-marrieds” who have just as much baggage as I do that they don’t have to check (pun intended, get it?).
All in all, Zuckerberg’s initial simplicity, me-thinks, was right, except for the word “single.” I suggest we all use, simply:
In a relationship
Not in a relationship
As a bonus, these categories work whether one is gay or straight. And, they give an out to the people who have a friend with benefits, but don’t know what to call it. A “Married” option is really redundant, because if married, one is, by definition, in a relationship and therefore it doesn’t need to be there. Jokes abound, though, “Yeah, I’m married, but it’s not a relationship” or “Dude, you’re not in a relationship, you’re married.” So why not just keep the married option? Well, then it raises the whole marriage equality issue and whether the state the gay couple is in permits same sex marriage, or whether there was a civil union, etc. Really none of that matters when the information truly sought is current availability, so why open up the marriage option at all, to anyone? (Answer: Married people would freak if it wasn’t there. Gay or straight, many people want to acknowledge their marriages. Whatever. )
Well, that’s it, that’s all. Either a person is available now or not. The sites don’t have to provide a box for every possible scenario or every past event. We aren’t talking about filling out tax returns, passport applications, or federal background checks here. It’s freakin’ social networking!!! But unfortunately now, a simple, “Not in a relationship” seems never to be an option, and “Divorced” often is. For me? I guess I’m just Single, or Dwingle or damn it Divorced, if you force me to say, or depending on my mood. Geesh.
Just Me With . . . a relationship status question.
Damn Facebook. I hate it. All the happy posts piss me off. Having photos of me (especially unflattering or ones that reveal my age) posted and tagged pisses me off. Having to connect with relatives I don’t usually talk to (sometimes) pisses me off. I mean now I have my mother asking me if I saw a cousin’s graduation pictures on Facebook? Ugh.
Then there’s the Ex, his fiancée, and their crap all over the net. Soon it’ll be his wedding pictures, complete with group pictures of my kids with the bride and groom and his and her family, all dolled up for his big day. Ugh.
Yeah, I’m kinda sick of Facebook.
But for professional and familial reasons, I keep my non-anonymous Facebook account. I do not link it to my Twitter or blog. I check into Facebook much less, rarely post, and took down all personal pictures. I check in primarily so that I can un-tag photos and respond to messages from the people who still insist on communicating with me via Facebook.
On my weekly check-in last week, I had a friend request from a law school colleague. The last time I talked to this woman years ago, she lit into me about some dispute regarding a club we belonged to, so I hung up on her. I don’t like to be yelled at.
Question: Why is she “friending” me on Facebook?
Answer: Because it’s Facebook.
I kept her dangling for a while, but since my account is so impersonal now, I thought, what the hell, I’ll accept her friend request. It might help in a future job search if she knows people.
Well, my connection to her led to seeing a profile of a man I had a secret crush on in law school. We’ll call him LawBoy.
LawBoy and I sat next to each other every day, front and center. He held my seat for me if I was running late. He was married, so was I. We studied together, some. Talked on breaks or in the library, just a little. I thought he was one of the nicest guys I’d met in a long time. Smart, funny, and so not full of himself. He was really down to earth, quite unlike many of my fellow law students. I used to love the way he smiled when talking about his wife. We didn’t hang out at night or anything. There was never anything inappropriate about our friendship. But I admit now that I was secretly holding the married lady’s crush on him.
A few years after law school, I ran into him in an office building where I was working. So we decided to have lunch, as lawyers do, just to catch up, see what our specialties were, if we could refer business . . . etc. He was always so attentive to my real love, music, as his father was also a musician, still gigging, even at his advanced age. LawBoy and I were both still married at this meeting, and now we had kids to talk about. It was quite an enjoyable lunch.
I don’t do alumni events, or lawyerly functions, and I haven’t worked downtown in a while — since all the madness (literally). So I hadn’t seen or heard from him since that lunch, years ago.
But when I accepted that woman’s friend request and viewed her page — there was LawBoy, on Facebook, a friend of a “friend.” He looked pretty much the same, still had that nice boyish smile. Now he’s a partner in a law firm. Not too shabby. More importantly, his relationship status is listed as . . . SEPARATED.
This time I sent the Friend Request. No message attached.
He accepted my request, immediately (she adds with a grin) and messaged that he was glad to reconnect, asked about my music and said that he hoped he could see me play sometime.
(Shhh. Don’t tell anybody, but I smiled and giggled a bit.)
LawBoy remembered me . . . and my music. Aw.
I responded in kind, telling him I’d let him know when things came up. (smiling still)
I perused (stalked) his profile a bit and saw that he seemed very active and well-rounded. He does go to the law related networking events that I avoid like the plague (but he’d have to, still being in practice and all) and is outdoorsy. Although I love to be outside, I’m not the rafting, hiking, marathoning, camping type. (But we can work that out . . . I digress . . . )
I have no plans or fantasizes of hooking up with my law school crush (well, maybe a few fantasizes, but no concrete plans). On paper, we are as different as night and day. I’m not even sure how comfortable he’d be dating outside of his race and religion.
But I could pull a Charlotte from Sex and the City . . . (“I’m Jew now” . . . ) yes? Perhaps I’m getting ahead of myself. A little. Whatever. It could happen.
Oh well. Odds are this will not be a fulfillment of a long-lost and unstated love between two law school buddies — like in the book and movie, “Something Borrowed.” No, romantic stories like that and me? — well, no.
Still, that one word on his profile, “Separated,” haunts me. I don’t state my relationship status on Facebook. It’s a personal policy of mine. And I doubt that he would have heard of my change in status from others since we don’t travel in the same circles, but . . . I’m not married anymore —- if anyone’s interested . . .
Regardless, I gotta say, it is nice to feel free, feel a crush and not be married this time, even if I never, ever do a thing about it.
Just Me With . . . my freedom, and still with a little crush on LawBoy, who is now separated. And, FYI, if he ever found this post, I would be completely mortified.