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. 

Advertisement You deserve to be happy! Get help today from the comfort of your home from BetterHelp, the largest therapy service, to change your life for the better.

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.

Sign up for YourTango's free newsletter!