Facebook ‘Relationship Status’ and Timeline

One of the oddities of the relative openness of our lives caused by the explosion of online social media is the Facebook “relationship status” and wrestling with when to change it.

As regular readers know, mine changed suddenly for the worse over the Thanksgiving holidays. While Facebook offers Widowed as an option, I’d been reluctant to change it from Married because doing so would erase Kim from my profile. If you’re married to someone–or merely “in a relationship” with them–their name appears. Not so for Widowed. Choosing that status takes away the box linking you to another user and I just didn’t want to pull the trigger. I finally did so Wednesday, coincidentally on the four month anniversary of Kim’s death. It seemed like it was time although, oddly, not yet quite time to take off and put away the wedding ring.

Interestingly, though, there’s actually a way around the dilemma now that didn’t exist four months ago. While I’m not thrilled with the recent rollout of the new Facebook page design, the Timeline feature allows the adding of various Life Events such as weddings, births, deaths, graduations, career changes, and so forth. And, for many of these, one can associate another Facebook user with the event, add in a photograph, a “story,” and the like. That’s a pretty good compromise solution.

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James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm veteran. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.


  1. I switched over to Timeline about two months ago. Didn’t like it at first but I’ve gotten used to it. I’ve held off adding past life event stuff only because of privacy issue so, for the moment my timeline before 2007 when I signed up for FB is pretty sparse.

  2. KansasMom says:

    I hope you and your girls are doing well James. Thanks for this little glimpse into your life. It brought tears to my eyes.

  3. I lost my mother to leukemia when I had just turned five – in 1946. My dad worked hard to care for my sister and me. We had fun but now I realize how hard it was for him. I keep you and your girls in my prayers.

  4. V says:

    I have gutted my Facebook account of a lot of personal information. Putting aside all of the creepy stuff Facebook does with our personal information, the people we are ‘friends’ with on Facebook know us, therefore why do we have to post things such as our interests or the college we attended?

  5. Just 'nutha ig'rant cracker says:

    I don’t do social media to any great extent–I have a profile at a school reunion site and haven’t visited or updated it for about 2 years–but I do understand your problem with removing Kim from your presence there. As to the ring, you will know when you are ready to move on related to that. In any event, I wish you and your daughters peace and happier times to come.

  6. PJ says:

    I never really thought of it (I never had to), but in this context, I am beginning to appreciate the new Timeline feature in a way I didn’t before. Thanks for the perspective.

    Additionally, as I’ve been noticing your Facebook updates lately, I have been thinking about Kim a lot. And the girls. You may have made the digital separation from Kim official, but you three will always be special to me, and ever on my mind and heart.

  7. Janis Gore says:

    So, is Ellie moving pretty fast now? She’d be about nine months?

  8. James Joyner says:

    @Janis Gore: Just a little over 9 months. She’s not crawling in the traditional manner but manages to scootch around pretty well and/or roll wherever she wants to go.

  9. Terrye says:

    Your children are beautiful.