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. 31
    pip

    I definitely have a very strong opinion on this, because I have to admit, in the past I have ‘refused’ to change my online status. This situation was roughly around 4 years ago, when I was dating a particularly possessive guy, it was back in the myspace days and although all of my details were covered up if you went into my blog on there it said my relationship status was single. Which he was really annoyed about.
    But that wasn’t what got to him the most. We used to chat a lot on msn, and I didn’t have his name in my screen name because I said it was immature and he shouldn’t need that reassurance. It wasn’t that I was looking for other guys, it was that I actually didn’t really know how I felt about him, he took away all my confidence and self-esteem and made me feel horrible about myself. So I never wanted to broadcast the relationship.
    Needless to say the relationship didn’t last and ended rather badly. Then I got into a longterm relationship and found facebook, on which I updated my status straight away. Though I do feel everyone has a right to privacy and when this relationship failed (after 3 years) instead of changing my facebook status to single, I chose not to display it, this was there was nothing coming up on my newsfeed and even though it happened several months ago now, there are still some people who are only just finding out, because I wanted it to be approached in my own time.
    I do think that if this guy knows how important it is to you and really cares about you, it is no skin off his nose to change his status, there’s always ways around the privacy issue and I would definitely expect the same from someone who cared about me (because I knew how I felt back in those days when I didn’t want to change my own status, it was because I wasn’t entirely sure I wanted to be with him!)

  2. 32
    Dani

    I don’t think he likes you.  It’s as simple as that.

  3. 33
    Lily

    Everything your partner does matters. If you are uncomfortable with something, Speak up! Communication is crucial in any relationship. IF this makes you uncomfortable, let him know. DO not stifle yourself. If you find yourseld afraid to speak up about anything, then I agree there is something deeper going on here-lack of communication, he is a player, you are low self-esteemed. If he is not treating you like the Goddess you are, DUMP HIM!!!!!

  4. 34
    NonExist

    EMK is right on the money.
    Jennifer should sit the guy down and have a serious talk with him about it.
    Seems like she wants exclusivity and he may still see himself as on the market.
    Direct communication and understanding with a solid answer to where things stand is necessary.

  5. 35
    Emily

    I personally don’t change my status to in a relationship. I don’t feel comfortable with everyone knowing my personal business. I decided maybe I’ll change it if I get engaged and defiantly if I get married. I don’t know if my relationship will last and if we were to break up then upon changing my status from in a relationship to single every tom dick and harry would have some comment about it and i don’t want them to know such things. I would prefer to keep that to myself or share with a small number of friends. Neither me nor the guy I’m seeing have changed our status and I’m ok with that.

  6. 36
    J

    I’m having this exact same issue. My boyfriend and I have been dating for 6 months. I changed my status, and he didn’t. I approached him about it, and he clumsily changed the subject. I know he likes me, but saying that you’re single (when you’re not) on the most predominant social website in the world is just annoying.

    You either want people to know you’re in a relationship or you don’t. If you don’t for whatever reason, then respect your boyfriend/girlfriend enough to delete your relationship status completely. Then, at least, it presents people the opportunity to ask if they’re curious. Single is a declaration, not a question.

    So anyway, stay open-minded but if you’re boyfriend or girlfriend keeps acting dumb, then stop sugarcoating what you want. Tact is first base…everything after that is open match with no gloves. It boils down to respect. Even if it’s not important to YOU, it may be to them. If it’s important to your significant other and you can respect the fact that they’re devoting their time, energy, mind, and body to you, then changing your status on a “harmless” website shouldn’t be a problem.

  7. 37
    Mel

    I have a similar situation. Been seeing my boyfriend for 2 months. We have been talking for 3 months. I saw on his facebook profile that he has changed his relationship status just since October 2011 4 different times, before we started dating. Maybe I am being too sensitive about it but what he is doing is making me feel very uncomfortable. He gets mad about me expressing my feelings too much anyway so I am not sure addressing FB issues would go over too well. I see him liking other, younger girls FB pics all the time and adding younger girls to his page constantly so I am getting the feeling that maybe I am just a placeholder. When we are together he acts like he really does care for me and my kids. He comes over often and calls/texts with me often up until the last 2 weeks. He says he isn’t dating anyone else and thought we were working on a relationship. I just don’t know how to bring FB up to him so I have kept my status as single as well. I dont want to take my options away if he isn’t. He knows that I have had numerous options/chances to date others who are on my FB page but hasn’t even mentioned me still being single on FB. Although he seems somewhat jealous of others trying to talk to me. I am so lost as to how to handle the situation.

  8. 38
    Anon

    I think it’s sad that he just won’t change the darn status to “in a relationship”. My guy is doing the same thing. It’s really irritating. It’s also a LIE, he’s not single. He could at least take it out completely. I feel like if he can’t do something as simple as put himself as “in a relationship” then he just might not be worth my time. It also creates unnecessary mistrust between us.

    I’ll add further that if your looking up on the internet about this issue then it does, in fact, matter.  It’s a small thing, but it’s a sign of commitment. To rail against it on it’s personal or “creating problems” to me, shows that you’re the problem. 
     
    Change your status..or remove completely. Holding on to the fact that your single in any sense especially on a public site, is advertising your singleness and keeping hold of that. If anything, the one with the trust issues is the one who won’t change their status to “in a relationship”. Or remove it completely.
    Gosh, for me it’s definitely not about “knowing we’re in a relationship” we had better be, but by golly it really irritates me that he keeps his status as “single”.  He’s even removed his gender for heaven’s sake.  I want to bring it up…but then again I feel like it should be evident for him to change his status from single to in a relationship.

    I’ll add again that he removed EVERYTHING but that he was single…and that was after we had been dating a while…so it’d definitely a conscious effort on his part. I’m starting to get to the point where I don’t care. I have to take all the steps in the relationship it seems…why should he make any decisions? He never does.  Why should he make small ones, when he can’t even make big ones.

    I think non-committal action or in-action in this case is more a symptom of the male being unable to make decisions in a relationship.

    Girls LIKE when guys say HEY I’m committed to you! And if they are committed, then they should happily and quickly change their facebook status to in a relationship– END.

  9. 39
    Dawn

    Why wouldn’t it matter, is the question? if people can say “what is the big deal? why does there have to be a label?” Well, then why be on FB at all? what is the big deal.
    A man who is truly committed and wants to be with his woman… shows it loud n proud, baby. 
    If people put up pictures of themselves, their education, where they work, what they do, who their friends are… you can’t click “in a relationship”? when you call your girl a  “girlfriend”, or “boyfriend”? 
    Anyone who says, “it’s just a label” “what is the big deal”? “it’s petty”, is completely in denial, using excuses for why they are not being proud of being in a relationship with the person they claim to be their girlfriend/boyfriend.
    It’s an excuse.  Perhaps the relationship isn’t stable, or they are not completely sure yet… but behind the scenes, when the guy is getting what he wants from his so-called girlfriend (sex, companionship) but still not ‘sure’, he will not be sure to claim you on his FB status.
    I have people I just met send me a friend request the next freakin’ day… if the guy you are seeing drags his feet requesting you, then pay attention.  My ex and I got back together 4 months ago.  It took him two months to even friend me.  I didn’t say anything though… and still, there’s no “relationship” status, but yet… he knows other men try to ask me out, etc.. and guess what.  His arse is about to get kicked again, for the last time. 
    I believe (and this is just my opinion), men who do not want to show you off as their woman and let people know who you are, and be proud of that… there’s issues.  I’m not saying it’s because he’s out ‘sniffing’ around and just wants to ‘appear’ to be single.  Could be there’s issues in your relationship.  He must not feel 100%.  So, then how could any woman feel 100%? no wonder we feel insecure… claim it, or lose it.

  10. 40
    Lilmoma Perry

    Well l have been with my child’s father for 2yrs and he still single on fb,tagged,instagram,freaky singles and etc. So when does it change 

  11. 41
    Bellafrock

    I have the same issue. Been with someone for 2 years. Only here is more of my story: I am not his friend on face book, he has single status, his ex gf’s are his friends, and he comments that he likes some of the pretty girls pics. I had a fit months back about the single status. Well, I checked out his facebook behind his back and he is still single.
    Am I crazy or what?

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