Teen Relationships with Facebook: It’s Complicated

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October 16, 2009

teen on FacebookTaylor and Alex are now an item. They’re making it “official” by declaring it on Facebook. Thank goodness your news feed keeps you up-to-date on all the latest, right? You wouldn’t want to be the last one to know. But, really, how are Facebook and other popular social networking sites changing teen relationships?

From boldly stating your interest in people of certain genders to declaring your relationship status, social networking sites make our relationships very public. With a simple click or an update to our information, whole networks of friends (and random people we’re virtual “friends” with) get notified. But relationship status aside, there are other considerations when it comes to dating and Facebook.

How often do you check your partner’s page? Do you know what your partner is up to—who he is talking to or whose pages she is commenting on? Researchers are starting to get interested in the psychology behind Facebook and whether it fuels jealousy through the ability to lurk and check out what another person is up to online. And how do you handle breakups? Certainly changing your relationship status is a not-so-subtle hint to your partner that it’s over, but is that the best way to give or receive that kind of news?

There are definitely great things about Facebook and other social networking sites. They offer another way to connect, stay in touch and spread information. But they also raise questions about the rules of relationships and how people interact. Is Facebook flirting cheating? What kinds of pictures of you and your partner get posted, and what about pictures of either of you with exes? What does “It’s Complicated” as a relationship status even mean? Certainly the popularity of Facebook and other social networking sites adds a layer to relationships, and probably warrants some discussion between partners about what’s OK for Facebook and what’s not OK. Maybe you can add that to the list of things to talk about and negotiate with your partner before you find yourself having a fight over whether or not she or he leaves you enough “likes” or comments on your latest status update.

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