‘FBO’ determines relationship status

Three letters have changed the dating game for millennials, and it’s mostly for the worst.

FBO—“Facebook official”—is the new standard of a relationship. For a simple social network status, it’s an incredibly delicate topic. Determining when to go FBO is a science of strategy and could require months of careful discussion and planning. It’s comparable to a celebrity controlling tabloid rumors of a hush-hush project until the buzz goes public.

Once it hits one newsfeed, it’s free game. Facebook is a (if not the) mecca for gossip and often the source of cyber drama. While a new “single-turned-in-a-relationship” status evokes cutesy comments and heartwarming “awh’s,” it can get nasty during a breakup when FBO turns FUBAR.
Before deciding to be FBO, Nicole McCroskey and her boyfriend at the time had gone steady for a couple of months to test the waters. When they changed their statuses, most of their friends knew they were together already so it wasn’t a big deal.

Although Facebook didn’t affect that relationship, McCroskey, a sophomore from Overland Park, has also experienced the ugly side of social media relationships.

Because her last ex was often busy with homework and fraternity engagements, McCroskey accepted the fact that they wouldn’t be able to text or see each other much. However, she suspected something fishy when he would post pictures and tweets from a bar after telling her he was spending his night studying or had canceled on her last minute.

“I would get upset, but I wouldn’t want to text him and call him out,” she said. “Guys get defensive, and I didn’t want to come across as a crazy girlfriend.”

As these instances became more frequent, McCroskey had to end things. She cut off all ties, which meant unfriending him on Facebook and unfollowing his Twitter.

She’s not alone.

According to “It’s Complicated,” a Western University student’s 2012 survey about breakups and social media, less than half of the participants said they remained friends with their ex after the breakup. One participant compared blocking his ex to ripping off a Band-Aid of painful memories.

Results from the survey found that 88.2 percent of participants “creeped” on their ex after a breakup. More than 70 percent who unfriended their ex tried to get access through another account.

No matter how mellow or gruesome the breakup, there’s almost always an element of jealously that accompanies moving on. The convenience of creeping on Facebook tends to intensify the feeling. Another survey participant described it as unhealthy and “self-destructive.”

“The thing is, you’re creeping on him because you want to find something. You want to find something to be angry about. You want to see if any new girls have written on his wall or if there are pictures tagged of him partying or doing whatever. You’re kind of looking for something to be mad about,” she said.

McCroskey said she never went back to her ex’s profile on her own, but had friends who would keep tabs for her. She said she wouldn’t have checked up on him and his new girlfriend even if she had the means to.

“It wasn’t a solid, good way of ending things, so it was like, ‘I hate you and I never want to talk to you again,’” she said. “I never felt too obligated to and make myself feel better by looking at [his new girlfriend’s] ugly pictures.”
When creeping gets out of hand, it’s crucial to step away from the smartphone or computer screen and get a fresh perspective of the relationship itself.

“Sometimes it can make or break it,” McCroskey said. “It’s important to talk about it, give it some time and make sure that you want to date and are happy with the person, that you’re putting it on Facebook because you have [a solid relationship] and it’s not going to change how you feel about that one person.”

Emma LeGault is a junior from Emporia majoring in journalism. Read more from .

  • Updated Jul. 15, 2013 at 9:09 am
  • Edited by Allison Kohn
  • Anonymous

    Very nice article Emma! :)