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Use caution when updating your Facebook relationship status

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You are not a celebrity.

It’s easy to forget that fact when each of us has vast online reach. With Facebook, thousands of people listen to our opinions, Like our pictures, and validate our decisions. Ten years ago people would think you were crazy if you showed them a plastic-bound photo album of your former dinners, but today these foodie pictures are popular and celebrated. Facebook gives the impression—possibly illusion—that people care what you ate, what you saw, what you heard, what you thought.

These are all mundane daily activities, so it makes complete and unfortunate sense that something as significant as the announcement of a new relationship would garner a frenzy of Likes, affirmations, and “Grats!” comments on your Wall.

It’s all too easy to portray ourselves as narcissists when we publicly update our Facebook relationship status. While exciting, changing your status is a single event and should be done with tact. Once you are sure about changing your status, consider these unwritten (until now) rules for announcing your new relationship on social media:

1.) Talk First

Updating your relationship status before discussing it with your mate is foolish and selfish. Don’t update your status as a way to start the “Define the Relationship” talk with your significant other. Bring up that conversation verbally, one-on-one. After all, you should be considerate of your mate if you want a relationship with them.

2.) Choose Your Method

Ponder your intent for updating your status. Are you going for fanfare to gather support, or to prove you are desired and loved? Are you making a big splash because you’re excited, or because you want to make your ex jealous? Do you want to change your status discreetly because you’re humble, or because you’re embarrassed of your new mate? Deliberate your motives and make sure your actions are in line with your intent. Note: if your intent is to incite envy, get attention, or prevent shame, you should rethink your readiness for this relationship.

3.) Keep It Simple

Don’t go overboard if you’re simply announcing the beginning of your relationship; nobody needs to see your photos holding hands in a cornfield with off-the-shoulder sweaters and too much make-up. You are not Brangelina, so skip the sunlit couple pics. Got something super romantic to say and want to share it in the Comments section of your status update? Forego the message and just tell it to your boyfriend/girlfriend instead. If you are announcing something more significant like an engagement or wedding, photos of the rings or the ceremony are appropriate and friends genuinely want to see them.

4.) Be Ready for Questions

If you make a public announcement about your relationship on Facebook, expect to get questions from all around: coworkers, parents, exes, friends you haven’t seen since high school, etc. Don’t announce your relationship as a way to attract these questions, but be ready to tell the “How We Met” story a few dozen times.

Post wisely and update with purpose. Now, about that new relationship:

Grats!

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