Love in the Time of Facebook

May 24th, 2011

by Anastasia Strgar

“Change is a funny thing. We’re never quite sure of what we’re becoming or why. Then one day, we look at ourselves and wonder who we are and how we got there.” -Unknown

The nature of the current day relationship has changed. Infused with increasing technology invented to build and sustain relationships such as social media and online dating, along with the tragic endings of real life relationships that characterize the relationship models of many Gen-X and Gen Y babies, love in the time of Facebook looks different and acts different, but ultimately, at its core, these new, modern relationships remain the same. People who choose to engage in relationships are all seeking to be seen by another, wishing to be accepted for who they are and who they are not, and struggling to stay together, despite the fact that we live in a culture that treats those in sustained relationships unforgivingly.

This culture has few role models of relationships that last. Starting at home, the large majority of Gen X and Gen Y kids have seen their parents separate over a trail of small issues in ugly divorces. Celebrities are notorious for their relationships that have half lives of around 2 years if they’re lucky. Even worse, it is these celebrities that portray the characters in romantic comedies that only show the easy parts of relationships. It’s no wonder we leave as soon as we realize it won’t be as easy as it is in the movies.

In real life, it is easy to start relationships via Facebook, but far too easy to end them. Facebook’s variety of relationship titles mean that you can have any kind of relationship that you want and that you can change how you want it to look to the world at any given time, with or without the other person’s permission. As a social media strategist for Good Clean Love,I get a lot of questions about what different Facebook relationship statuses mean. For example- how is a relationship complicated? A complicated relationship is like a relationship purgatory- you’re not really anything- together but hanging by a thread, seeing other people, but not broken up. Most often I see my Facebook friends post “It’s Complicated” statuses between being together and being broken up, but then again, I’m not so sure even those people in “complicated” relationships really know what they mean.

I’ve been dumped on Facebook, I’ve dumped a guy over text and when Arlo and I were first together, I debated about when to list us as “In a Relationship” and whether I should be the one to do it or if I should wait for him. It was at least a few weeks after we’d claimed our relationship in person before it went up onto the Internet. We weren’t the only ones: I’ve seen stories on online magazines from women asking experts why their boyfriends won’t be official on Facebook and how long they should wait. I’ve counseled friends about when to make their own relationships official and helped them through awkward “It’s Complicated” phases. Love is not an easy thing to figure out without Facebook, but when Facebook comes into the equation, it gets even harder- this explains why many couples actually decide to not list their relationship at all.

While my peers in their 20s struggle about when and whether or not to claim a relationship status, my 13-year-old sister and her peers claim and then disclaim marriages to their friends. Emma explained that these marriages shouldn’t be taken seriously and that they’re just a joke, but in a culture where people get married and then divorce as soon as the marriage isn’t satisfactory, the fake marriages on Facebook draw strange parallels to real life.

Love in the Time of Facebook is treacherous and can be rife with pseudo-realities, but by giving this generation the tools to have and maintain relationships outside of Facebook, by teaching kids that social media can enhance relationships without giving it the power to control relationships, Gen X and Gen Y and every future generation can have the kind of relationships they’ve always wanted- the ones that last.

 

Anastasia Strgar, a recent graduate from the University of Oregon with a B.A  in journalism, has been writing about love and relationships for several years. She has written short stories and romance novels, penned the love and sex column  in the  school newspaper and wrote several blogs. As the eldest of founder Wendy Strgar’s four children, she has been inspired by watching her parents’ marriage and strives to put those lessons to use in her own relationship. She believes that teaching her peers early on about how to maintain healthy relationships  is essential to creating a future generation of loving partnerships. She currently works as the Director of Public Relations and Magazine Editor at Good Clean Love.

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