(Facebook) relationships are hard, and breakups are harder


Facebook is testing a new feature, which supposedly allows you to “manage your interactions with your ex.” What does that mean? Among other things, you can control how often you see your old flame in your newsfeed, message bars and suggested tags, all without them knowing. 

An electronic way to get over your ex on FB may sound stupid and childish, but admit it: things were way easier before you were basically prompted to follow their every move. If you have been constantly searching for and interacting with, say Christina Paxson, and then things go sour when you find out she’s married, Facebook won’t know that. Internet suggestions function on algorithms, so for all the website thinks, CPax and you are still tight. It will keep on asking you to tag her in stuff even though it is breaking your heart! Eventually, the algorithms would take into account your lack of interaction with her, and she would stop flooding your interface.

Now, instead of waiting for time to heal all stalking habits, FB and you can finally have the dialogue where you say, “Mark Zuckerberg, you just don’t get it, I can’t look at them right now.”

Sounds pretty great, right? Unfortunately, there’s a catch. This development is only at its testing stage for US mobile users, so the relationship had to have been FB official before the feature can be applied. Oh gosh, who has heard of someone’s relationship being sanctified by the grace of Facebook post the tenth grade?

For the sake of journalism (a BlogDH way of saying “an excuse for all of our dumb antics”), we knew what we had to do. Two random bloggers would have to throw it back to their early teens, enter a fake relationship on Facebook, publicly break up, and then explore this feature in first person, on their phones.



Things did not go as expected. To  give the reader an immersive sense of just what happens when you take the FB plunge, here is a first-person account of my relationship-to-break-up over the course of two hours.

I always get flack for my choice in romantic partners, and in a more general sense, I don’t see people getting hyped anymore just because two people start going out. It could be a symptom of hook-up culture and the breakdown of monogamy: “Ew, they’re exclusive. I bet they believe in archaic institutions like marriage, too.” Hence I never anticipated that I would receive anything beyond a judgmental silence, but I garnered actual support for my (fake) relationship!

Despite Facebook relations in our generation being almost exclusively ironic, almost everyone bought that we were dating. Worse, they were thrilled about it. We got 80 likes. That’s more attention than I ever get for my blog articles! 

Screenshot from Steph's phone

Screenshot from Steph’s phone – apparently, we make a wonderful pair.

Soon, doubt started to take root. People were way too happy about Stephlin. Would we encounter an angry mob after publishing this article, revealing it was all a lie? Have we deprived Brown of the power couple that it never knew it had, until it was too late?! WILL I EVER LOVE AGAIN?

Things needed to end, and they needed to end fast. We were in over our heads, and the longer it continued, the more people would be disappointed/enraged when they discovered that we weren’t the next Cara Delevingne-St. Vincent. Also, let’s remember that the entire point of this exercise was to investigate Facebook’s break-up feature.

I offered Steph the option to initiate the break-up, but after 4 minutes of no response (#sheghostedme), I panicked and ripped off the band-aid myself.

Here’s something new: A relationship is considered a life event, just like starting a new job, or being born. Fair warning, Facebook will make it really public. You know what is not considered a life event? A break-up. While every estranged cousin and elementary school acquaintance will see your beautiful union, none of them will know when it’s over. Instead, the site becomes shockingly coy. I returned my public relationship status back to single, hid it from my timeline, and people were still liking it! Special shout out to the liberal relatives who really wanted to prove that they were “with it.”

We should take a moment to mourn the loss of melodrama. Come on, Facebook—spread the hate just like the love. Where have the good times gone, when FB official relationships were messy precisely because everyone would be notified when you broke up? It has been replaced by a perverse reality, where everyone is lending support for your two-hour fake relationship long after its expiration date has past.

Despite the unexpected attention, it must have been all worth it for journalism, right?

WRONG. We both perused around our FB options, to be greeted by this:



You think we’re teases for having this fake relationship? The real tease is Facebook.

Retrospectively, it was cool to see people congregate in happiness over love, even if it was fake. Maybe we are too cynical these days, and more people should make their relationships FB official. As mentioned earlier, no one has to worry about over-publicized break ups anymore. Also, it would certainly clarify some of the rampant ambiguity that is tethered to the college dating scene. No more scrolling through profile pics, pondering whether they are siblings or dating. Unless, of course, your status is the symptom of an elaborate lie for your blogging career, and then it would still be unclear whether you are single or not. 

If this feature succeeds in its testing phase, it will not only become more widely available, but also more versatile. For example, through the Help Center, one would be able to control how often they see their ex, even if it was an off-the-internet partnership. If user feedback is positive, a tricked-out version of  these tools could be coming to you soon.

On a personal note, I have realized: if I ever do leave the role of designated single friend, I will most likely never date someone as chill as Steph. In other words, I romantically peaked on November 21, between the hours of 12 and 2 p.m.

Images via Facebook.

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