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Facebook and relationships: a few guidelines

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Remember when the turning point in a relationship was the first time someone said, "I love you?" Now it seems that changing your Facebook status to "in a relationship" is just as significant. It's a way of announcing to your friends and family - and the world - that you are happy and in love.

While Facebook is a great way to stay connected and report information like this to friends and family, it can also be a cause of conflict in a relationship. Not everything between you and your love should be shared with other people. In fact, the misuse of Facebook can create unnecessary problems.

If you want to keep your Facebook account active and nurture your relationship at the same time, I've created a few guidelines to keep in mind:

Don't post without talking first. Ideally, you and your love should have a conversation about how you feel and where things are headed before you post your feelings on Facebook. I've known many people who posted their decision to be "in a relationship" prematurely, resulting in a lot of confusion and heartache. Your relationship is first and foremost a private thing between the two of you, so treat it with care and consideration before making public declarations on Facebook.

Don't compete. Your Facebook status is intended for reporting what you're up to, not for comparing your life to others. If your friend just got engaged, or got more likes for her "in a relationship" status than you got for posting pictures from your romantic trip with your boyfriend, take heart. Don't let it get you down. Step away from Facebook for a few days. Remember what's most important: your real-life friends and family, not your Facebook "likes."

No Facebook retaliation. There's nothing worse than using Facebook as a tool to get back at your ex. Whether you're posting about how much fun you had at a party, or how much better your life is since you've been single, you're not doing yourself any favors. Plus, you're not hurting your ex - you're only hurting yourself. Take the high road, and leave your personal life off of Facebook for a while until you have moved on emotionally.

No digital stalking. Are you in a new relationship? Do you look at your love's Facebook page every hour, searching for new photos or what kind of comments he's made? This will drive you crazy, not to mention hurt your relationship. Instead of looking for evidence of how he feels about you on Facebook, try having a conversation instead. Communication is key for any relationship, so make sure you do it.

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