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Go to hell, Facebook relationship status.

April 30, 2013

The only time I ever contemplate the benefits of marriage is when I’m filing taxes. April 14 rolls around, and while I’m in a flurry of panic trying to find all the W-2s and 1099s and 1099-Bs and NCC-1701-Ds…oh, wait. A gal can dream, though, right? At least about the post-currency society that logically can’t require one to file federal taxes?

Anyway, once I finally get my important financial documents from out of the sock drawer and the bookshelf and that impossible-to-reach area under a car’s front seat and dutifully enter all the information in to the IRS’ consistently malfunctioning e-file form, I have to consult a tax table to figure out how much I owe. Which is generally twice as much as a married couple filing jointly would have to pay. Which makes me call up my first ex-husband and say, “Hey, you want to get married for real this time? Not because I secretly think we’re in When Harry Met Sally, mind you, but because we have the major common interest of being cheap?”

But then I file the taxes, get a nice return, and generally forget the whole mental lapse ever occurred. The only other time I get prickly about my single status is when I’m on that social-media giant that I love to hate but just can’t quit: Facebook.

Mind you, it’s not the pictures of newly-engaged friends and their newly-engaged ring fingers that get me. Nor is it the pictures of happy couples kissing, making out, or feeding each other tidbits on the beach, although it is a good thing Type I diabetics can’t go on to develop SuperDiabetes (special powers include peeing acid and gargling water straight from the faucet!).

Nope, what gets this Master in Linguistics (Georgetown ’09, if you want to imagine me stroking my goatee while I sip a Scotch on the rocks in a tweed jacket) is the constant nagging on Facebook’s behalf every time I go to update my About page: “Add your relationships.” It’s accompanied by a sad gray cartoon heart, in case I stupidly thought my primary relationships were supposed to be with my friends and family.

Since I’m not married/divorced (well, technically speaking)/widowed/engaged/complicated (at least, not with anyone else)/in an open relationship, my default choice for this particular box that Facebook wants to reduce me to is “Single.” The status itself, as my blog’s very nature should suggest, is not what I have a problem with.

What jerks my inner linguist’s chain is the word itself. Like people who assume that I am “childless” instead of “childfree,” missing something when in fact I feel my own life is more fulfilled by not having that quality, that word implies a lack. Granted, there is nothing inherent about “single” that suggests an absence–it’s not as if Facebook decided that “loveless” and/or “hopeless” would be more suitable to describe somebody who is not romantically entangled.

But try explaining that to society at large. The connotations of “single” imply one who is waiting, one who is missing a key element, one who is looking for that element to be complete. Hell, it used to be that when someone ended a relationship on Facebook, what would pop up in your News Feed would be, “[Name] is no longer in a relationship,” accompanied by a cartoon icon of a heart with a crack down the middle. Even the networking site’s goddamn icons make it clear that you are a broken person if you aren’t attached at the hip!

Right now, my relationship status is blank. Even though the utter lack of a definition seems as though it should indicate more restlessness with my lacking love life, a sure sign that I am open to changing that relationship status to something a little more…relationship-y, the void invites fewer questions and come-ons than decisively marking “Single” likely would.

But I do consider myself open to making a decisive mouse-click on an appropriate choice. It’s just that no such appropriate choice exists, as far as I can see. There is no word in American English, the land of rom-coms and Disney and Bridezillas and Say Yes to the Dress, that satisfactorily describes someone who lives contentedly without a partner.

It’s a provable fact that I’m not the only writer on WordPress. I’m certainly not the only one who invents words from time to time. So surely there has to be someone out there who can think of a concise equivalent of “childfree” for singles-by-choice, an equivalent that could then be applied to social media; after all, it’s not official unless it’s on Facebook. And if that official standing goes so far as to influence the IRS to change its policies, I will declare a total victory.


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  1. When I was in college, my group of guy friends based an entire, extremely complicated midnight ceremony around the “changing of the Facebook status” when one of them actually started dating someone. Looking back, that’s pretty effing lame.

    • It was just a shameless excuse to drink loads of alcohol, right? RIGHT?!?

      Sadly enough, I can totally see it. The first time my boyfriend and I broke up, we had a mad scramble to see which one of us could change our status to “single” first, using the not-really-joking logic, “It’s not official ’til it’s on Facebook.”

  2. This is so true…I can not invent a better phrase but I totally agree with you. I’m in dislike of the society who’s mentality is always ready to render us conformists just so that we are part of who they are.

  3. Totally agree and fear Facebook.

    • It’s weird that I’m less afraid of Google, which I *know* is using my typed search information, than I am of Facebook, which generally seems to have no clue what’s going on my head (but would obviously really like to).

  4. Well. I never saw anything wrong with the word “single.” I understand the connotations you’ve explained, but it just doesn’t carry them for me. I mean, the broken Facebook heart shows up because you just came out of a relationship, just lost someone special. Breakups are hard and stuff. You don’t get a broken heart if you just choose single. At least, I hope not.

    But I’m always for new independent woman empowering terms!

    The first word I thought of while reading your post was “unchained.” But while it’s completely accurate, it doesn’t sound pretty enough. How about self-operated? How about happy?

    • OOoooo I love that one! The novel idea that someone single can be; HAPPY. Do you know how MANY married people I’ve met that aren’t happy?!?? Down right miserable and act as IF they’re not loyal & married…that is the reason I got divorced. Lollll My ex-husband made for an outstanding Daddy & very close friend for me though; post-divorce & now.

      • At least it all worked out! I’ve hung out with divorce lawyers and related professionals enough to know how traumatizing the events leading up to the divorce as well as the follow-up can be. You hit the nail on the head with the mention of unhappily married couples–I never needed to officially tie the knot with my ex to realize how miserable I was.

      • Good for you for following your instincts! Sad a fact as it IS; far too many women don’t..

    • I love both of your last suggestions! “Self-operated…” that rocks and needs to be on Facebook yesterday. I do like “unchained,” as well, but then again, I’m also practicality over prettiness.

      That is true that the broken heart only appears when you’ve listed yourself as ending a relationship, but considering it’s usually in conjunction with re-labeling yourself as “single,” I usually take it for granted that the one equates the other.

      It’s really cool that you can see the word “single” for exactly what it is, no more, no less. I think spending two years studying words and their contextual meanings in everyday conversation has ruined me…

      • Or maybe I live in a society where it’s [supposedly] the norm to only be single until you’re married!

  5. @that satisfactorily describes someone who lives contentedly without a partner…Trying but I can’t think of a one-worder to describe that. Other than SINGLE. Some of the runner ups I came UP with? My own better half/Fabulously unattached for a while/SEXY awaiting for sexier/Hotter now that I’m not married..I love that part!..Truth is though; I’ve never been happier. Has nothing to do with being divorced though. Has far more to do with finally having the time to just do & learn ..little ole me. I needed this single time. I chose it. But now? Honestly? I’m ready to not be single. And in a short time I’ll finally give serious thought to who I’m going to date. I’m missing the selection of MEN that were on the right coast though. Are men different on different coasts???! OMG ..I could write an entire post on that..

    • You should totally write about men in different geographic locations! I know less about coastal men than I do about high country ones (and given that we just legalized pot here, take “high country” as many ways as you like), but I know that dudes in my home state tend to be very fit, to outnumber the women, and to have a reputation for commitment issues, so if you’re looking to get back on the horse for a quick ride only, this is a great place to visit!

      I love “my own better half” and “fabulously unattached,” although I’d take out the “for a while” part since I am nowhere near ready to not be single. I’m glad you made the most out of your unattached period!

      • Yep, after I thought/wrote “my own better half” I fell in love with that phrase too..Fell out laughing @looking to get back on the horse for a quick ride…Far too many of those opportunities here; but I pass! I’ve learned how to “float my own boat” ; till the real thing comes along. Even IF I have to import HIM from another state OMFG..You’re so right there is no way I can’t not write about men in different geographic locations..Congrats on ya’ll legalizing pot!!!! I’ll never smoke it; but I think folks with health issues that can benefit should be able to..Big Pharma companies take issue with people benefiting from a “natural” substance; doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure that one out…Hmmm though the “very fit” part about the guys in your area does sound yummy..and just right for me in that regard. I vote for ALL the men out there who want a TEN; to also be a TEN..Yet another topic to write on sooooon

      • Well I just did it..Wrote it! And mentioned you in the first paragraph…

      • I’m now following your blog! I’m truly impressed that you manage to post something every day. If I only had the discipline to stop reading webcomics incessantly!

      • Awwww I’m humbled , still after I think about 6 months of blogging, to get a new follower..Especially those who I so dig their writing style. Namely YOU. Coool. I think of that and it WOWs me. That out of the billions on the WordPress site; someone/anyone!, took the time to read my words & thoughts..Thank you. Ahhh and I love reading funny and light things as well . Makes me smile and who wouldn’t love that? Which is why I will so often come to read your words..

      • Thank you! I love reading funny and light things as well, especially when I can relate…hence why I’m glad you’re now in my notifications!

      • Likewise.. 🙂

  6. facebook is a pile of crap. i deactivated aaages ago and have never looked back.

    • It’s a total love-hate relationship for me. On the one hand, I’m more likely to keep in touch with distant friends through that medium than either phone calls or texts, given how terrible phone service can be in a mountainous state with a middling population for the US. On the other, Facebook is a total pile of crap. Good for you having the guts to pull the plug!

  7. You’re quite possibly the most eloquent single-by-choice writer I know of. Good on ya for every clever turn of phrase or coinage.

    • Why, thank you! Sometimes I plan paragraphs or sentences out in my head that never come out quite as well on the actual screen, but I certainly do my best!

  8. I am waiting for the next post entitled «Go to hell, Facebook!» 😀

  9. I never say I’m single. I’m FLYING SOLO.

  10. Reblogged this on Is It Just Me? and commented:
    It’s always great to find people who can articulate what I’m feeling #PeopleWillThinkIAmBitter

    • Thank you! I’m sure people will think I’m bitter, cynical, mean-spirited, etc. Some of these descriptions might even be true some of the time. But I know which end is up. #GoToHellHaters

  11. Great post, reblogged it!

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