When Should He Change His Status To “In A Relationship”?

Hi Evan. I happened across your site, and found it very interesting. My question is a bit silly. I’ve been dating my boyfriend for over three years. It is a long-distance relationship at the moment, and I’m not sure where it’s going to go. I know this is a petty thing, but it has always bothered me that he has put he is “male and single” on most of his internet sites. These are not even dating sites, that’s the puzzling thing, but for example “Flixster” the photo sharing site, and other smaller ones. I feel it is just as easy to say “in a relationship” or nothing at all, instead of always putting he’s single. I have casually asked him about it, and he either makes a joke, or acts awkward. I don’t really want to press the issue, because I feel it’s so small and it makes me feel ridiculous. I assume this is just one of the small signs he is unwilling to truly commit, but I’m not sure if he’d be open to meeting people online either. I’ve even thought that he possibly has online flirtations, and wants to keep his online image as single. I know the common sense answer is that if I’m so unsure of the relationship, then I should reevaluate it for my own sake. What do you believe it generally means when a man is always “single” in the online world? Wouldn’t this be indicative of a possible tendency for cheating now or later? I know you may not have time to get to my question. I’m sorry if this was asked already. I searched, but didn’t find anything that similar. Thank you :) –Jennifer

Dear Jennifer,

I don’t think your question is silly at all. In fact, it’s a highly relevant question for dating in the digital age, when there’s nothing resembling a rule book to follow.

Now, I don’t have that much information on you. I don’t know how old you are. I don’t know anything about you or your boyfriend. I don’t know how long your relationship has been long-distance. I don’t know if either of you are good relationship material. I don’t know that every website even has an option for “in a relationship” as opposed to single/married, in which case he doesn’t have too many options.

I only know one thing:

If your boyfriend is aware of your feelings and ignoring them, he’s being selfish.

See, a boyfriend’s job is to make you feel safe, make you feel heard, make you feel understood. And if you’re not crying wolf over every little thing he does, then your relationship should be pretty solid and drama-free.

If he can’t click on a button to make you feel better, there is a deeper character or sensitivity issue that you’re ignoring.

However, he DOES have an online image. We all do. We post photos that we think make us look good. We list interests/hobbies that we think make us sound appealing. And unless your boyfriend’s been under a rock for the past five years, his relationship status (at least on Facebook) is pretty much the public’s only glimpse of how he perceives himself.

So is it some sort of nefarious plot to pick up women through Flixter? Doubtful. But if he’s your boyfriend of three years (hell, I’ve only known my wife for less than five), he should be receptive to having a simple, thirty-second unemotional powwow, where you tell him the truth:

“I know I’m probably being too sensitive, but if we’re part of a couple, it would make me feel a lot better if you listed yourself as “in a relationship” instead of single. Seeing that makes me feel like you’d like to be single and I don’t think that’s the case at all.”

If he gives you a lot of pushback on it, he’s not being particularly sensitive to your needs, which calls into question what kind of husband he would be.

In other words, you’re not asking him to make a very big sacrifice. If he can’t click on a button to make you feel better, there is a deeper character or sensitivity issue that you’re ignoring.

Good luck – and please, don’t invest too much time into a man who isn’t doing everything in his power to make you happy.

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Comments:

  1. 1
    Craig

    Isn’t it funny how much social media has taken a grip of our lives in this modern day that a status update can be such a telling sign in the course of a relatioship? Whatever happened to the good old meet the parents scenario!?

  2. 2
    Goldie

    Ugh, that Facebook relationship status field is such a pet peeve of mine. It has always struck me as a gold mine for passive-aggressive behavior. You can use it in so many ways to hurt or mislead people. I removed this field from my profile completely immediately after I told my ex I was leaving. I can understand married people having it on their profiles stating they’re married, but everyone else IMO is better off not having it filled out at all.

  3. 3
    Mark

    I keep my relationship status completely hidden. My last relationship of 8 years was up for everyone to see on Facebook. Then, the same day my ex announced she was leaving me, she removed me from Facebook, instantly making my relationship status the default ‘single’. Now everyone from friends and family to work colleagues saw this and bombarded me with calls, texts, emails, the whole works. Whilst touching that they cared so much, It was just too much to take on top of the mental anguish I was already going through. I wanted to tell people in my own time. A year on and I’m in a new relationship now and, whilst she’s a ‘friend’ on facebook, I’m leaving my relationship status completely blank.

  4. 4
    Nicole

    I agree Goldie.  And I’ve witnessed people totally use it in a passive-aggressive manner with people that they are supposedly involved with.
    Personally, since I don’t see Facebook’s purpose as being a way to meet strangers, I’m okay with everyone leaving their relationship status off.  

    I don’t use it anymore, but I was shocked to hear that people were hooking up with strangers or meeting people that they date.  I never took friendship requests from people that I didn’t know, and I’ve met other people who use that same rule.  So much about the data is out of your control for me to want to let people and all of their contacts have even more access to my personal stats.  

    I’m surprised we haven’t heard more about FB related stalking personally.

    And so sad that people look for personal and romantic validation based on silly internet sites.  A lot of people who are old enough to know better seem to have this “if it’s not on FB then it isn’t rule or isn’t true.”  

    One of the many reasons that I’ll never use it again.   

  5. 5
    Ruby

    On another thread, someone suggested using Facebook to meet people by listing your relationship status as “single”, rather than using internet dating sites. I thought it was interesting that the person thought that somehow the people were different on Facebook. Most of the men I’ve dated online have Facebook profiles anyway. I’ve even heard of people using Facebook to break up with people, such as suddenly “unfriending” them or changing their status, which is a rotten thing to do. 

    In the OP’s case, unless they are very young, three years seems like ample time to know where a relationship is heading, which seems to be the underlying question being asked here. But EMK is exactly right; trying to read the little “signs” rather than asking outright, makes me think that maybe Jennifer really does know the answer, but is afraid to actually hear it from her boyfriend. 

  6. 6
    Saint Stephen

    This post hits home! Been someone who had actually broken up with a girlfriend because of this relationship status stuff.
    Women worry a lot about trivial issues. My then girlfriend pestered me to change my relationship status from single mode. Sadly i had to end the relationship when i couldn’t deal with her insecurities anymore. I still remember the last argument we had, that was when she asked me- Am i just the girl you ****?
    I personally don’t agree with Evan’s take on this. I did love my aforementioned ex-girlfriend just as i believe the OP’s boyfriend also do love his girlfriend. I just felt the trust wasn’t there.
    I never left my relationship status mode single because i was searching for fleets of other girls to hit on. But because i think it inappropriate to change your status if you aren’t married or engaged.  
     
    @Jennifer- Perhaps you should stop trying to make a mountain out of a mere hill.

  7. 7
    leesa

    7 months ago i had a man who i thought was the love of my life. i am still broken hearted after 7 months that he ended up chasing another women behind my back who is younger, who has two children and no job. now i see that she lives with him.  i was shoked as everybody, including myself, thought he was madly in love with me. and i nearly fell over when, after i found out about the “other women”, i checked on his facebook page and saw that he was “single” and “interested in women”.  trust me, your guy is a player and i bet, he’s got another one of you somewhere else – “long distance”. at least one.  i don’t know why these guys do this. i have been asking the “WHY” that evan discusses in his book. and my career is in a male dominated field, i prided myself on never being sucked in for a guy like him.  even my parents thought he was deeply in love with me.  so don’t worry, they can be really good at deceiving you.  don’t ignore the “red flag”.  i realise that that guy didn’t respect me, or the single mum he was sleeping with at the same time as me.  and i don’t think this long distance guy respects you.  the question is, do you respect yourself enough to give him the flick?  it’s not like you’re really getting much at all from him (and definitely not much sex i imagine), so i would think an emotional bond like this with a disrespectful guy would actually be quite toxic and i think that you deserve better. you just need to be patient and believe that there is somebody better out there for you.

  8. 8
    Flower White

    Jennifer
    he is posting as a single man because that is what he is. After 3 years of iffy long distance dating, he’s moved on yet keeps you around for various reasons.

    My dear, feel the breeze…its blowing your way, telling you to be free of him. 

  9. 9
    maria

    Saint Stephen-U did your ex a favor by breaking up with her. U really didnt want her anyway if you broke up with her over something so petty. 

    Mature ready men make their women feel good and happy. Not insecure and worried by a stupid status. 

    Social Media, The internet is just what it is. Anyone can find out anything they want on anybody these days the access to the internet. The internet creates jobs, businesses, friendships, relationships, marriages, education ect…. so if you have the attitude that she is being inesecure because of a status….. I say HOOORAH for letting her go….. She definitely deserves better!

    Social media is access to watch a lot.  

  10. 10
    Robyn

    If you are going to publicize any information about yourself online (be it FaceBook or other web-sites), then you need to do so honestly, whether it’s your work history, education details or relationship status.

    If some one persistently publicizes their relationship status online as “Single” when they are (supposedly) “in a relationship”, and they object to requests that they update their publicized status to reflect that they are in a relationship…. then I would say that deep down they are not committed to the relationship and to some extent think/wish they are single - still looking to do better than their current partner perhaps & therefore still hanging the “single” flag out there?
      

    I think the OP has better things to do than stick with a guy who is keeping her around as a convenience while he looks for some one better and/or doesn’t care enough about her feelings to be honest about their relationship status in a public setting. 

  11. 11
    Trouble

    I wonder if the guy in this situation really feels like he’s in a committed relationship.  I think that’s the question, personally.

  12. 12
    Joe

    Am I the only one who thinks these sites (esp. FB) often make it difficult to find your status in order to change it?  If you care enough, I’m sure anyone can find the right buttons to click, but if you’re feeling lazy it’s just not worth the effort.

  13. 13
    Saint Stephen

    maria Said (#9)
    Mature ready men make their women feel good and happy. Not insecure and worried by a stupid status.
    That’s exactly my point, maria. Why should she or other women be worried over a “stupid” status thing? Does it matter if i put “in a relationship” and treat her like crap or if i put “single” and treat her like a queen? In this regard i’ll say such women are the immature ones.  
    I’m all for respecting each others boundary. I never asked her to change her status and as such she shouldn’t have bothered me about mine.
    I view the break up as more of doing myself a favor. Such nagging attitude do have a proclivity of escalating and extending into other parts of relationship. 
    I don’t fancy such drama like the one expressed on Mark’s post on #3- and that’s why i’m never changing my OL relationship status prior to marriage or engagement.

    Mostly everyone on this thread seem to be seeing the Op’s letter from a colored view. Try to look at it from a guy’s perspective. What they have is a Long distance relationship. I’m also aware a lot of women are fickle. What happens when she meets someone amazing who happens to be more geographically closer? My guess is that her Boyfriend’s OL relationship status wouldn’t mean a thing to her anymore… rather it would be his “worry.” 

       

  14. 14
    Kristen

    I totally think that feeling lazy and not wanting to deal with updating information on all one’s internet sites out there is actually a reasonable explaination. That said, if she asks him to change his status and he refuses, hello, something is fishy. I’m starting to get the idea that when asked in a civil and hopefully even warm manner, guys are quite willing to do what you ask.

  15. 15
    Ruby

    St Stephen #13

    I don’t see this as a solely a woman’s perspective, and believe me, men can be just as fickle as women. There can be commitment even in a long-distance relationship. Some of my friends – both male and female – list their Facebook status as “in a relationship”, some leave it off entirely, even those who are married. You could also have left it off – why the insistence on announcing to the world that you are single? Obviously, it was important to your girlfriend. It sounds like there was a lack of trust between the two of you, and them announcement of your status was just the tip of the iceberg. 

  16. 16
    Nicole

    I for one think it is said that anyone over the age of 15 thinks that if you don’t say it on Facebook, it isn’t real.  
    Seriously, I have an account that I never plan on touching again.  I hope that everyone in my life is not offended that I haven’t updated my life for them all of review for accuracy or to reflect their current importance in my life.  It’s not a lie if I’m not on there all of the time and could care less if 500 people know what I ate for breakfast and when I went to the bathroom.
    These sites make adults behave like middle school girls. 

  17. 17
    Surina

    Long distance relationships are really difficult so it is definately both people’s responsibility to keep each ther secure. If you have already brought this issue to his attention and he’s brusing it off, there is absolutely no point in bringing it up again, you don’t want to be the ‘nagging girlfriend.’ Instead you could change your relationship status to ‘single’ too and see what happens. I think it is very possible that he will ask you about it if he does see the change. If he does, you can tell him that you thought he would be more comfortable if you did that as his status is also ‘single. If he is serious about you, I’m sure he will change his status!
    http://www.personaldatingagent.com

  18. 18
    Saint Stephen

    Surina Said:
    Instead you could change your relationship status to ‘single’ too and see what happens.
    Gbam! Talk about hitting the nail on the spot! That’s all i expected Evan to say. No need for all the assumptions made. All she needs to do is change hers (relationship status). They should keep on dating and see how things “eventually” turns out. They might just be in for one big surprise.

  19. 19
    Laura

    Some people are just insecure no matter what.  You could lasso the moon for them and it wouldn’t solve their problem, they will find something else to be insecure about and raise the stakes.   I don’t like needy, clingy insecure men and there are plenty of them out there, perhaps not as many as there are women.

    I don’t have Relationship Status on my social network page except for a short while when my divorce was final.    Facebook is for friends and family I do not see often in person.  I do not “friend” men I date or consider BF.  Most of my men are from the stone age anyway and don’t socially network online, some don’t even have computers.  

    Kinda’ inconvenient when your best Oprah Guy Friend is on top of a mountain in Peru and the other is still in some Alaskan wilderness and I need an analytical male brain to pick at.

  20. 20
    Saint Stephen

    @Ruby
    I opted for leaving it blank while she was insistent on me changing my OL status from single to- in a relationship.
    Women have to deal with the fact that they wont have their way 100% of the time.

  21. 21
    Angie

    Jennifer, do you mean Flickr?  Flixster is a movie reviews website, but Flickr is a photo-sharing site and is much more of a social site than Flixster.
     
    I don’t know if these random sites are that meaningful, but if it’s a social networking site such as Facebook, then I would definitely say he shouldn’t be listing himself as “Single”.  He should say “in a relationship” or nothing at all.  I can sort of agree with Evan that if his options are married or single and he is writing movie reviews as a 24 year old, unmarried male, that reflects what demographic of movie viewers he is in.
     
    As far as Facebook, I don’t like broadcasting to every single person from my eighth grade class what I have going on in my life and I think a lot of people are in that camp.
     
    In general, you don’t seem to have a personal relationship goal for yourself.  Are you ready to start thinking about getting married?  Is he?  If he isn’t 100% committed to you, then I would say something not long distance is much easier, but I think distance is a difficult barrier to really overcome unless one of the two people has definitive plans to move at some point, and the other person is excited for that move to happen.  Also, it is easy to not notice bad things or guess at much more terrible things when the person isn’t in your daily life.
     
    I would guess that you are young (perhaps at different colleges?), and he just doesn’t know what he wants at all, so is living in the moment.  He hasn’t broken up with you b/c he likes you, and isn’t fully committing b/c he either isn’t ready to think about marriage.  A mature conversation is probably your best way to go.  Don’t play passive-aggressive games like some other posters are suggesting.

  22. 22
    Craig

    Does it really matter if someone confirms they are in a relationship on Faceook or anywhere else so long as the trust is there? This is a prime example of technology causing more problems than it solves sometimes.

  23. 23
    Ladybug

    I think you nailed it, Craig. 

    Trust. 

    You either have it or you don’t.  

    A click on an internet page is not going to solve the deeper issues of trust.

  24. 24
    Goldie

    @ Craig #22, Jennifer said she was okay with her BF leaving the status blank, but he doesn’t want to. “Single” is misleading. Guess what, if I’m out there dating, and see a FB page of a guy I like, and it says he’s single, then my understanding is that he is single, and therefore okay to flirt with and view as potential date material. I am not a mind-reader and have no way of knowing that he’s taken if it says there in black and white that he is single.
     
    So yeah, in my opinion it matters. What this guy is doing is false advertising.

  25. 25
    Nicole

    @Craig, I agree, and I can’t believe that anyone over the age of 16 really has an issue with this.  Here is a problem that isn’t really a problem and that didn’t even exist a few years ago when Facebook was only accessible by students.
    As we can see, it makes people who are old enough to know better act like insecure teenagers, and in that regards, I wish it had remained closed to people who were not in school (I actually got an account as an older grad student but didn’t use it b/c guess what, no one on my age was on there and it all seemed really silly.  And now everyone else I know if on there and it all seems incredibly silly).  It is overshare central on there, and people use it to make the most inappropriate announcements (e.g posting ultrasounds, announcing break-ups and divorces, and also telling people that someone has died. All awful).  

  26. 26
    justme

    I liked Evan’s thought that was does matter is that he isn’t listening to her feelings. 

    All of us our insecure moments (or maybe it is only me).  If some thing that I thought was no big deal mattered to the person that I loved, I wouldn’t hesitate to make the change.  And believe me, FB status is a small thing.  Sure – I could dig in my heels and say “I’m not updating my status, you are just insecure and need to get over it”.  But to me, that attitude doesn’t show love or respect.  Also, since there will be things that he thinks are no big deal but may be important to me and I don’t want him brushing off my feelings, I need to give him the same courtesy that I want.  

     

     

  27. 27
    Francesca

    There are good reasons why someone may not want their relationship up on facebook. Its a very public website and putting a status up there is broadcasting to 400 friends your entire life. 

    My boyfriend is amazing :p affectionate in public, always kind, sweet nice. Anyone who spends any time with either of us will know that we are dating. I don’t feel there is any reason to let people who don’t associate with us in real life the right to know that sort of information. 

    Plus we both agreed that in the case of a break up we would like the ones who care to know, and the ones who’d just like to gossip out. 

  28. 28
    Saint Stephen

    @Francesca
    I’m in complete agreement with you.

  29. 29
    Amy @ Flex Belt

    I don’t even think it matters. Since when is facebook status so important anyways ? If that’s an issue then you’re just going to be a headache for any guy. My boyfriend changed his status when it was clear we were in a relationship but if he didn’t i wouldn’t care. If I did then i would have trust issues.

  30. 30
    Erinlee

    Just because someone cares about something like a Facebook status, no matter how small or insignificant that thing really is, does NOT mean they are insecure.  It’s a title of commitment, you want your other half to be proud to be in a relationship with you, I’d say this is one way to show people that’s the case.  Since when ISN’T love about the little things?  It’s all about give and take, and you may not give two cents about what your gf’s FB status is, but if it matters to her, wouldn’t you want to do what would make her happy and at ease?  No one is right or wrong in these situations, everyone is entitled to their own opinion.  I’m far more likely to not care about being right and to care more about doing whatever it takes to keep both of us happy.  I would much rather be happy than have the satisfaction of knowing that I won the argument, that I was right and he was wrong.  That’s pretty much a lose/lose if you ask me.  Show some love, let’s put compassion in front of reason and being right.  There’s definitaly a time and place for reason but most the time I don’t think that it’s in the middle of a ‘sensitive for one side, not for the other situation’ 

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