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

woman finger-pressing the social network icon

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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  1. 1

    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!?

    1. 1.1

      What has happened is many of us are dating age where our parents are dead.


  2. 2

    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

    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

    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.     

    1. 4.1

      My issue is the fact my boyfriend had his relationship status on there then took it off after we had a disagreement.   He said it’s his page and he can do whatever he wants

  5. 5

    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.

    1. 6.1

      You did not love that girl. If you did, you would simply do that little thing that would make her feel secure. Have you ever wondered why was she insecure? I believe you should take the responsibility for her insecurities. If she was your girlfriend and you were in a relationship, then why would you hide this fact online? It is not like she asked you to state something that was false or untrue. She didnt ask to state you are married either, just that you are in a relationship.

      1. 6.1.1

        I agree with raluca.   It’s simply a little thing to make her happy, to make her feel secure.   It should not be that difficult a thing for you to do.

      2. 6.1.2

        I agree totally… mine partner of 5 years has always put he is single…most of the women he knows all know hes with me so he looks a total player to them..and not the type of guy any women are really interested in….they dont change….players need their ego”s boosted because they are immature boys who have no idea how to communicate with real women…or have a real relationship with anything but their reflection.This girl had a lucky escape and when i dump this idiot i live with…. so will I !!


      3. 6.1.3

        It appears his ex girlfriend was correct, and is better off being single and available for someone who can give her more than that.

    2. 6.2

      I agree with @Raluca some of these guys are just full of bs lame excuses and they wonder why their gf find it hard to trust them and end up having insecurities they never have before…they have invested their time, emotion and love to you so why can’t you do such a simple thing that would show your appreciation back to her rather than turning it into some big dilemma and risking your relationship, unless you really don’t care or see something long term in which case just be effin honest and stop stringing someone along your bs

    3. 6.3

      I think that’s a bit harsh . If you say you loved your gfirlfriend and having single upset her why not just change it. You didn’t need to have anything listed just had no relationship info becauae yiu chose to have single rather than nothing   Having single there told her evrynday you were single. It might have seemed trivial to you but she probably wanted you to make her feel special. And I can assure you most girls would feel the same.don’t know the whole story but if you are at the level you say you love someone a click of a button is nothing at all

    4. 6.4

      Just take the status down entirely by setting it to private. If you are in a relationship then it is sketchy and disrespectful to have it set to single. Just take it down. Otherwise, yep, he’s sketchy as he’ll.

  7. 7

    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.

    1. 7.1

      Does that “single mum” know about him? You should probably try to contact her and let her know what she’s dealing with because she may not be aware.   Not to start drama but since there are children involved they too could be hurt. We women need to stick together and protect each other against guys like that.

  8. 8
    Flower White

    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

    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

    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

    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

    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.”  


    1. 13.1

      I think it all comes down to being honnest and truthful. If you are single… You are single. But if you are in a relationship, you can either mention it or hide the relationship  status. I have seen it both way… A guy who is not faithful and keeps his relationship status as single. But I have seen men put their relationship   status “couple” and continue to search for someone else on various dating site. I don’t believe in harassing someone to change his status. If I don’t feel respected then we are not meant to be. Also, I find that “in a relationship” attracts some unhappy people  who wants him or her and will want to do everything to make trouble because they want what you have. I think the less… The better on social media.

  14. 14

    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

    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

    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.  

    1. 16.1

      Here here!!   I made the mistake of coming back onto Facebook recently after not using it for a long time. I merely hinted about my new boyfriend with a “we “post, because I wanted to keep it off Facebook since we used to work together and I just don’t feel like it’s anyone’s business. I had the rudest most obnoxious comments and questions from people I have barely spoken to, who were dying for gossip and thought they had figured everything out. “Why have you never posted about this before? Is this who we think it is?” Etc. It was unbelievable.    They even showed up at his desk to ask him if my post was about him this weekend. The relationship is new, and now I am embarrassed and had to remove them all and I’m going back off Facebook.

  17. 17

    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!

  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

    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

    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.

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