Jenny Block explores: Living, loving and ‘friending’ on social media
It used to be so simple. When you wanted to introduce the person you were dating to your friends, or she wanted you to meet hers, you planned a happy hour or dinner or brunch with endless, socially-lubricating mimosas.
Then came social media.
Suddenly, your relationship is not just “your relationship,” and your friends are not just the couple of people you hang out with with some regularity. Your circle is wide and your visibility is wider. So how do you know when it’s the right time to start connecting all of the virtual dots?
Hand-in-hand with that question, of course, is the issue of whether you make your relationship status known on social media and if so, when and how. Ugh. Makes a girl long for the days of plain old phone calls or coffee catch-ups where you could simply tell who you wanted, what you wanted, when you wanted.
I started dating my girlfriend in mid-November. She asked me to be her girlfriend about six weeks after we met, and about that time I was sitting at my dining room table alone and saw a Facebook notification that said, “Lacey Brutschy said that you and she are in a relationship.” I confess, I smiled like crazy and — yes, sue me — I cried a little. She is not a showy girl, so this was huge.
She’s not a big fan of PDAs. She thinks it’s silly when people post romantic gestures on social media because that makes them seem like extraordinary acts when really such gestures should happen all the time. And she doesn’t ever want her happiness to be painful to someone else.
I, on the other hand, like a good dose of tasteful PDA and I live much of my life on the Worldwide Web (the perils of being a sex and relationship writer). I also love to be super-connected with people. And I like to think of sharing my happiness as just that: sharing my happiness. I am often inspired by other people’s relationships and, in some ways, I suppose, I hope my relationship does that for other people too.
So I was completely blown away when she did the whole relationship status thing. That was big.
As for connecting with her friends, that wasn’t such an important thing for her — not at all. That she was happy to have me do. Why? Because she is all about honestly and transparency. And that is what I believe is at the heart of the issue here. She wants me to have both virtual and real relationships with her friends because they are an integral part of her life. So integral, in fact, that she was very clear in telling me that if they didn’t like me, our days as a couple were numbered. Makes sense to me — they know her best. I believe in the friend-litmus test. Happily, I passed with flying colors.
If the person you are with is being honest and open with you and really sees a future with you and wants to truly integrate your lives, then it would only make sense that she would want that interconnection represented on social media. If, on the other hand, what you think of as a relationship is really just a way to pass the time for her, then, naturally, she’s not going to want to get you all tangled up with her people.
Don’t get me wrong. I am all about both partners being whole people, individuals who can happily and healthily stand on their own. (Speaking of which, I’m not a big fan of the “couples-only” Facebook page … unless both people also have their own separate pages and then I don’t really see the point of the couple’s page.)
Being whole people means each having your own friends and your own interests and not necessarily having to do everything single thing together. But by the same token, I have to admit, that I am leery of couples who feel the need to be too separate, keeping certain friends and activities secreted away. It makes me wonder if there is something that one or the other — or both — is hiding.
I often see a Facebook post show up on my feed that says something to the effect of, “If you handed your phone to your girlfriend/boyfriend/husband/wife right now, what kind of trouble would you be in?” I’m happy to give me answer: none. My only issue might be that she might see a list of movies that I want to see that she would think are too mushy or that she might get a peek at the “clues” list I keep to help me when I want to buy her a present.
All of this is to say, I think it’s great to integrate your friends both in real life and in virtual life. As to when, well, if you’re using a title — girlfriend, boyfriend, partner and certainly wife or husband — I’d say it’s definitely time. One guideline to follow might be when you meet them in person, then you can friend or follow them online.
To my mind, the best couples are not those that complete each other, but rather those who complement each other … and that goes for friend lists and all.
Jenny Block is the author of the new book O Wow! Discovering Your Ultimate Orgasm.
Have a question about sex you want Jenny to address? Email it to GirlOnGirlsJenny@gmail.com.
This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition August 28, 2015.