Changing a relationship status on Facebook and other social media networks declares the new status to the public. This can get tricky, though–some couples prefer low-key relationships. Some people use Facebook, but don’t go on it often enough to accept a relationship status change right away.
How soon should you change your Facebook status? The answer depends upon you and your partner as well as the stage of your relationship.
Dating, single or open relationship?
When dating, many people choose to make the Facebook relationship status change once they’ve had a talk about being exclusive or monogamous. Once that talk has happened, it’s safe to assume that your boyfriend will accept a relationship request on Facebook.
Also, isn’t necessarily the woman’s ‘job’ to initiate the Facebook relationship status change. If you are more comfortable, you may wait for him to make the status change request.
Once the status change happens while you’re dating, it’s likely that your family and friends will ask questions and will want to meet your man. He will get the same questions. If your boyfriend doesn’t accept the status change right away, this could be a reason why. If you’re not sure, ask him.
Facebook also has an open relationship status. This is also completely acceptable to use if it applies, though preferably after a conversation to confirm.
Once engaged, you’ll probably want to tell everyone. My husband proposed to me while we were LARPing with a group of friends. It happened out in the woods before I had a smartphone with a Facebook app.
I called my family and close friends to let them know right away. I chose to change the Facebook relationship status until I had spread the word in person.
However, old plans hardly work with new media. By the time I went online at the office, friends who knew about my engagement were already posting congratulations and asking when I would change my relationship status.
For big news like engagements, you and your fiancé might want to wait on changing the status until you’ve had a chance to tell your close family and friends. However, be aware that other people might post on your Facebook wall about it before you have a chance to call everyone-unless you ask them not to or change your Facebook settings.
Marriage and civil union
Unless you elope, your Facebook family and friends probably know all about your wedding planning-they might even be tired of hearing about it. If you’re proud to be married, you should flaunt your new status right away-especially if you’re a social media guru. (You might lose social media cred for a delay, however.)
When you do change your status to ‘married’ on Facebook, you might get a few posts or private messages from hurt acquaintances wondering why they did not receive an invitation to your wedding. Prepare a tactful response for this eventuality.
Breakup or divorce
I actually started using Facebook when I was separated. Since there was no option for separated individuals, I listed myself as married. When I filed for divorce, I changed my status to single. By that time, my close family and friends already knew about the divorce and the situation.
Once I changed it on Facebook, I was bombarded with phone calls, wall posts and messages. Everyone was asking about my divorce on my Facebook page. I had to manage it tactfully while going through a difficult time. In retrospect, I should have eliminated others’ ability to post on my wall for a while. (You can also change your status without notifying all Facebook friends of your breakup.)
The ‘it’s complicated’ status exists for a variety of reasons. People with on-again, off-again relationships might select this to avoid the drama of constantly changing their statuses during a rough time. This status might also indicate another situation that might need to be explained in further detail: polyamory, friends with benefits or a relationship in consideration.
Relationship status changes are more important to some people than others. If your partner doesn’t place a high priority on the visibility of your relationship status, he may not realize that being ‘Facebook official’ is important to you. Communicate with him regarding this change.
More from Tara M. Clapper:
Getting Along with Your Boyfriend’s Friends
Divorce Affects All Relationships
5 Tips for Dating an Unemployed Man