I Changed My Facebook Relationship Status And Sh*t Hit The Fan

Photo: sergey causelove / Shutterstock
woman using phone

A few days ago, I changed my relationship status on Facebook. 

I've been exclusively dating my boyfriend for nine months, but being Facebook-official wasn't a thing that mattered to me because I'm not a 16-year-old girl nor am I desperate enough that in order for my relationships to be real I have to validate them to a sea of virtual friends and strangers. I know my value.

The only reason I changed my status at all was because of the unwanted attention I sometimes receive online. 

I write about sex, and I talk about sex. Because I am open and kind and a woman with breasts (prodigious breasts, I might add) a lot of men who don't even know me think that it's okay to harass me. 

That harassment takes many forms. It could be a death threat on Twitter or an unsolicited penis pic (dude, you should really get that mole looked at, btw), or something as innocuous as a man thinking that my mere existence means that he alone should be getting all of my time and all of my attention. 

RELATED: Why You Shouldn't Make Your Relationship 'Facebook Official'

Changing my Facebook status to "in a relationship" wasn't to preen or share with the world how happy I am (though I am), it was a safeguard against unwanted attention from men. 

Is it fair or reasonable that I feel better hiding behind my boyfriend online? Nope. But the sad truth of the matter is that being in a relationship and advertising it makes me less likely to have guys all over my junk all day. 

I didn't expect that changing my relationship was going to have another effect: 

It seemed like everyone I knew was liking or loving the post, commenting on how happy they were for me, demanding to see pictures. 

It was all really nice, I mean, who doesn't like it when their friends are happy for them? 

But it also drove me totally nuts. 

Why should the news that there is a man whose penis I regularly fondle merit such a response? 

I love my boyfriend, he's awesome, but it's ridiculous that his mere existence in my life earned more of outpouring than any of my other posts, you know, like announcing that a new play I've written is being produced, or sharing the gut-wrenching news of my cat Rumi's death.

Those were times I needed my friends, but clicking a button to share that I'm getting banged on the regs? Why does THAT matter more? 

RELATED: 11 Good Reasons To Keep Your Relationship Status Secret

I haven't had a boyfriend, a real one like this, in years. But being single never made me less of a person. That never made me a pathetic figure who needed to be worried about a fretted over. Did I have days where I felt lonely?

Sure. But guess what: I STILL DO. Having easy access to a penis and a fine pair of blue eyes to gaze into didn't eradicate my existential dread, y'all. 

It wasn't anyone's intention commenting to make me feel that by having a boyfriend I'd finally done something "acceptable" with my life.

It was just people expressing their happiness for me. I know, I get that.

But why does having a partner have to be a thing worthy of such outpourings? 

If you want to deny that sexism is real, then look at how we treat single women. Before I had a boyfriend, I got a Master's degree. I moved to New York City on my own with no money. I survived suicidal ideation and anxiety.

I pursued my dreams. But having a boyfriend? Something that just sort of happened? That's what earned the biggest response from my peers, and if that's not sexism, I don't know what is.

Don't get me wrong, I don't think my friends are sexist. But I do think we live in a world where a woman is considered to have more value if she has a partner, whether that's something we ever say out loud or not.

I love my boyfriend and I'm proud to know him, but he doesn't make me who I am, I'm not "finally whole" with him. He's just the cherry on the sundae that is my general awesomeness.   

RELATED: Please Never Lose Who You Are When You're In A Relationship

Rebecca Jane Stokes is a writer with a passion for lifestyle, geek news, pop culture, and true crime.