Over the past two years Facebook and I have enjoyed a peaceful relationship: the early days were marked by addiction which morphed into dependency, before settling into a period of insouciance and finally coexistence.
I no longer check compulsively – though this might have more to do with Tweetdeck’s ability to alert, and thereby quench my desire for procrastination, rather than a degree of will-power on my part.
One of the interesting – if not gut-churning – aspects of Facebook is the relationship status setting.
When I joined I was in one and set it accordingly.
When the saga wound to a timely end in June this year, I was struck by the quandary of what to put: I certainly could not leave it as ‘in a relationship’ and though immensely liberating as it was to change it, the prospect of ‘single’ seemed too ostentatious, followed so often as it is by the ‘interested in…’ question.
It was all too Match.com and vaguely smarting from the broadcast that ‘Layla is no longer in a relationship [cracked heart.jpg], I rejoiced in the blank status.
The idea of relationships being charted over Facebook is unsettling – the initial joy of the announcement is all too often followed by the dismay of the break up, and while it doubtless elicits sympathies from the mass of friends, it remains a deeply personal matter that should surely be played out behind closed doors.
As the Spring glistened into Summer and Summer paled into autumn, a new development arose and inevitably the relationship question was raised and swatted, raised and debated, raised and quibbled, raised and mooted… and at last acquiesced to.
I regret to reveal that I was behind the majority of the secondary verbs; after four years in a less than healthy set-up, the thought of another relationship mortified (mortifies?) me.
Notions of gilded cages, repression, possession, questions without end and the loss of all liberty caught (catch?) my breath.
The Man (as he shall henceforth be known), it is clear, is no carbon copy of The Ex: he is liberal, trusting, and all the gushingly lovely things that a woman would look for in a man.
And yet when he took the initiative last night and sent a request via Facebook to update our statuses, I balked.
Like a multicephalous beast a plethora of issues raised their heads skeptically spitting ‘what if…?’
Foremost, I don’t believe relationships are a game to be played in the cyber-arena: I take them much too seriously.
Beneath this pomposity lurks the real reason: what if it ends?
Just as there is a tremor of delight in viewing a friend’s positive change of status, so too is there a stinging finality when a relationship crashes and burns.
In reality, it hurts enough to endure the arguments and the conclusion; to go through those and then log in to discover the cyber-microcosm is discovering the result over their coco-pops is all the more galling.
Yet if I do not confirm what subliminal message does that convey to The Man?
Possibly issues of commitment: if one party is not willing to go public (in this oh-so-modern manner) then can they be trusted?
For now, The Man is perpetually demonstrating his ability to be wonderful: far from smarting he is waiting and respecting my variously mumbled and whimpered excuses of ‘professionalism’ and ‘none of their business.’
He knows the real reasons and thinks I am bonkers, which is probably true.
But my contention remains: the relationship status feature is a moral and emotional quagmire.
Today the red heart skulking in the top right-hand corner of my homepage taunts and tweaks my conscience.
The question is, to confirm or to ignore?
To ‘ignore’ would be callous; to ‘confirm’ would go against my hatred of categorizing such matters.
And so I wait.
And he waits.
It’s times like this a Magic 8 Ball would really do the trick.