Sometimes I start typing, and as my fingers flick across the keyboard I fall under the illusion that I am writing ideas that are fresh and new, that I am exploring relationships and dating in a new paradigm, that these words are going to change the way we think about love. Today is not one of those days. I’m tackling a topic that came and went from headlines along with MySpace because seriously, after MySpace, everyone accept it as the norm: the relationship status update, complete with disclaimer.
Back before any of us really knew what we were doing on social media, there was a tendency to do one or more of the following:
1) Upon seeing a status update from “In a Relationship” or “Engaged” or “Married” to “Single,” one might comment with something helpful/unhelpful such as an emoticon or occasionally, interesting use of the Like button.
2) For the recently brokenhearted to write something about the end of their relationship. Status updates from my news feed around the time we were all neophytes included this:
No, I’m not with C anymore. He cheated on me. I don’t say that to defame him, I simply don’t want anyone asking me “What happened to your sweet boyfriend?”
Eventually, this brief, mass missive evolved. A friend wrote:
T and I have mutually decided that we’ll be better off as just friends. He’s still a fantastic person, and I am a fantastic person, and we are going to be fantastic friends — just not partners.
I admired (and at the time, privately verbally applauded) this friend for her ability to gracefully handle the situation. I always remembered that break-up rather fondly.
And then, silence. For years, I didn’t hear or see tale of anyone’s break up. Relationship statuses made the taboo commentary cut. Any condolences or congratulations were made behind the scenes.
In a selfish way, I admit that I was relieved. As someone who already overly feels her own feelings, seeing everyone else’s so raw and throbbing was painful. I’d start feeling things I projected onto both parties, and shazam! would be in a very sad, dark place where there are no bunnies or Gameboys and only humanity lying in a puddle of its own heartbreak.
Recently though, as the majority of my friends enter what seems to be the baby-or-divorce era of their relationships, I am once again seeing public proclamations of separations.
Some of you know, for many this may be a shock, but L and I are separating. I wish her the very best.
After three years, S and I have decided to part ways. She’s moving out this weekend.
(That one followed the next weekend by apartment is so empty. Better start putting together this Ikea furniture.)
All of this is to say, I’m not sure what the right approach is. Silence, or acknowledgment? To remain silent certainly offers your friends peace of empathetic mind to some degree. But we are social animals, and people are going to gossip and be curious, silence be damned. So perhaps announcements offer the chance to give your side of the story, or at least stop rumors. But public noting feels, as Emily Post might say, uncouth. Sure, we live in an era where People magazine feels it’s okay to report the personal goings-on of the rich and famous, but I’m not sure we all really want to live under that microscope, even within our own circle of friends.
As I write this, I realize that it’s ironic for me to discuss what is public-appropriate and what is not. I write about dating, and agreed to have a filmmaker film me on dates. One could easily say that is just as uncouth and over-sharing as a Facebook blast.
My final thought on this matter is that we have birth announcements, death announcements, engagement and marriage announcements…why not have divorce announcements? It actually makes sense in that light.
Someone want to sway me one way or the other? I seem indecisive.