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In the Raw: The Facebook "status" dilemma

It takes just a few seconds, but changing your relationship status on Facebook says a lot and can have damaging effects.

Sure, when a break-up happens you’ll want to alter your profile to reflect your true status; but, if you change your status without first informing your significant other, or out of spite, it can create real problems.

Before you change your Facebook relationship status, ask yourself a few questions.

Have you officially ended the relationship in private? What are your motives? Do you already plan on changing it back within a few days?

Talk About it First

A Facebook status change goes public instantaneously.

Even if you delete the status change history, there is always a chance that someone saw it before you removed it. Plus, visitors to your profile are apt to notice the difference.

Bottom line – if you alter your Facebook status to say “Single,” people might start talking about it. For this reason, it’s important to have a private conversation with your significant other to end things before you make it public on Facebook.

No one wants to find out that a relationship is over because a boyfriend or girlfriend has suddenly become “Facebook Single.” Even if the relationship stays over, you may thwart any chance of a platonic friendship if they feel disrespected.

Think About Your Motives

Changing your Facebook status in the middle of an argument is never a good idea. If you are only changing the status to hurt someone’s feelings, you are almost certain to regret it later. Don’t go from “In a Relationship” to “Single” until you know that you are doing it for the right reasons – because the relationship is truly over and you want your Facebook profile to be accurate.

Be conscious of your feelings; if you are angry at your partner, log off Facebook altogether so you’re not tempted to change your status or post something public about wanting to break up. Chances are, you’ll thank yourself later.

Will it Stick?

If you are aware even as you navigate to the “Settings” screen to change your relationship status that you’ll probably be back to “In a Relationship” within a matter of hours or days – hold off on the change.

When you are conscious of the fact that you’re not really serious about the status change, it’s probably a sign that you are only changing it out of hurt feelings or to make your significant other feel bad.

Consider the Future

Like it or not, Facebook relationship status changes can have big implications. If you want to salvage any sort of relationship with your former flame – romantic or otherwise – really think about how you handle this simple task.

Having a short conversation about how you’re going to change your status, and that you’re not doing it to hurt his or her feelings, might make a world of difference.

Jennine Estes is a Marriage and Family Therapist (MFT) in San Diego with a private practice in Mission Valley. She has appeared as a Relationship Expert in Redbook Magazine, Martha Stewart Publications' Whole Living Magazine, Social Work Today Magazine, local San Diego news stations, and more. To learn more relationship advice from the author Jennine Estes MFC#47653, visit her relationship column Relationships in the Raw or her new San Diego Couples Therapy website.