Monday, March 2, 2009

"In a relationship"

My friend Susanna has changed her Facebook profile to "In a relationship." She joked that it was the equivalent of "getting pinned." Which I don't remember and no one in my world ever did , but I do remember reading novels from the 1950s when I was young where the "pin" and the letter sweater were the keys to female acceptance.

I'm not THAT old, but I'm old enough to have finished up dating before I knew anything about Facebook. In high school, some of the girls wore their boyfriends' class rings, all wrapped up in yarn so it wouldn't fall off their finger. That wasn't really ME, not least because I would hardly have needed any yarn to keep most rings on my mannish fingers but also because I don't think any of the people I dated (and when I say dated I mean kissed) were class-ring-wearing types. I mostly passed notes in the hall, and then in college there was (wait for it) email. But those weren't for public declarations of any sort. Come to think of it, I don't think I had one of those until I got married.

Most of the guys I dated, there was a runner and a chaser. I would have either vanished into thin air if someone had Facebook-relationshipped me--like that Irish exchange student who I met in a bar and told me outside the bar that something had really happened for him that night--I bet he would have FR-ed me right as the thing was happening and I would have been out of there like a shot. Then Brian--ha! I would have obsessed about it, OBSESSED, waiting for him to publicly acknowledge our relationship of many, many years. And he never would have, that tomato seed. And I would have FR-ed him in like a minute and then kept obsessing and then the anxiety would have driven me insane. Jeff? He's still not on Facebook, that late adopter. He wouldn't have been then either and would generally have been in a cloud of glorious nerdiness all, what's the big deal?

No, it's all good and appropriate that I was in the sandwich generation, in between the letter sweaters and the Facebook heart icon. It was a crazy time full of secrets and undeclared things, but it was okay.


JCK said...

Yes, it was O.K. Great post, Nora. Funny we were both writing about FB!

Caffienated Cowgirl said...

LOL...I can't stand Facebook :)

Ah yes...those days of dating. We must be around the same age, as I remember that. In our school it was the big thing to wear your boyfriend's lettermans jacket. Frankly, I wasn't a dater in high school. And thankfully I don't have to worry about that now either...not in this era of technology :)

Misty said...

this made me chuckle. I'm a fellow facebooker, but happily married so I only sit in awe as status's change.
For instance, I have the one friend who- everytime she gets in a fight with her husband- changes her status to "single" or "it's complicated."


I have another friend who is very, well, loose with her love life and is always going from "single" to "it's complicated" to "in a relationship" and it's usually with different people.

Noelle said...

I am on Facebook, but when JNK and I started dating, he wasn't. I still took the relationship status thing pretty seriously. And I realized, it was mostly because I feel like saying that you're "single" is also saying you're available. If you're not, you just don't have a status on there at all.

I had a friend recently go from "single" to "is not longer listed as single." Inquiries abound! But she later updated her status to say she was just not wanting to label herself as single - it did not mean she was in a relationship.

So when JNK and I started dating, I made the error of going back and forth about it. I was too new to FB to realize this made me "look" like there was drama in my life - when in reality, there was a pleasant lack of drama. And the intent was to take any potential drama out of it. I was taking myself off the market!

In the last year I've seen a marriage end on FB and a few relationships end... including one of 5 years, 2 of which I lived in group housing with her/them. They moved off to Hawaii together and I'm thankful for tools like FB to see what they're up to - as she gets her higher ed and he continues to be my go to for all Apple related questions.

It's weird. The social-butterfly-wants-to-know-eveybody's-business in me is totally intrigued. Trying to read into clues that something was up before the actual status change. Shocked! On the receiving ends of texts and chats asking if I know any more.

Then there's the private-reserved-wants-to-be-respectful-of-everybody's-business part of me that just looks away, closes her eyes, and sends positive vibes their way. Because break-ups suck.

Oh, and a little PSA for FB users - you can change your settings as to whether or not you share this info about yourself... you can delete it from your wall as well.

Oh, one last thing (I had no idea I had this much to say on the topic!)... JNK did eventually sign up for FB and it felt good to be able to have my "in a relationship" say, specifically, who I was in a relationship with. Cheesy? Sure. But I still liked it.

phd in yogurtry said...

And in my practice, I work with people on FB and MySpace skills, or skills to cope with the fact that he won't move me to the number one spot, etc. Not the kind of training we got in grad school, but here we are. The times they are a changin'.

but like you, in HS we didn't have any sort of pinning or visible declaration of a relationship. I think it might have solved a few issues. Might have prevented some of the pretending to be involved when they actually weren't willing to present it publicly. These FB and MS social networking sites might help people get the kind of feedback they need to make a healthy decision.

ellen said...

Too much for me as an old lady. I did love your post.
Wall flower here in high school, scared as shit if a "boy" looked at me. Oh, my.
Hoping all is well with your decisions. A hug to Hugo from me.

Keith Baron said...

You keep writing posts like this and we have to start affixing the "Voice of a Generation" label to your writings. Loved it.

Still thinking of how we could pitch the "Bad Wife Chronicles" for TV development.

Jenn @ Juggling Life said...

We used masking tape to keep the ring on.

Any girl my son was dating would have to wait a long time for him to change his status--cause he knows that then I would know and his aunts and uncles and cousins and brother and sisters would know and he's sure as hell not going to go through that until he's ready to get married!

Madge said...

I love FB, but it is it's very wierd own little universe.

J and J Acres said...

I don't know about your facebook, but if someone's relationship status changes, I see it for days in my little 'friends updates' window. I mean, DAYS.

Dani in NC said...

When I was in school, we did the class ring thing. The girl would wear it on her forefinger so it didn't look like her own class ring. I've always wished that "pinning" was still in when I was dating, though. I like the word and I think wearing a pin is more elegant. I guess I am a 1950s sweater girl in disguise :-).

g said...

This was how we learned our college freshman son had a girlfriend. When he changed his facebook relationship.