The prevalence of Facebook and social media in the day to day lives of individuals has blurred the line between the public and the private. While it has bucked the tradition of anonymity provided by the internet, it hasn’t come with the increase in discretion that one would associate with having your name and public image associated with various statements and actions.

In both Facebook and real life, the phrase "It's Complicated" is applied to things and people that are anything but. PS This show was awful.

One of the most perplexing phenomena associated with social media: “It’s Complicated.”

“It’s Complicated” is one of the options one can select on Facebook when setting a relationship status. It’s also a movie starring Alec Baldwin and Meryl Streep that, sadly, has American treasure Alec Baldwin saying the line “oh em gee.” The other options are single, in a relationship, engaged, married, in an open relationship, and widowed. Or you have the option of leaving it blank.

So with all those options and opportunities for disclosure or non-disclosure…what’s complicated?

Is the depth of your love beyond our feeble understanding? Is it an incredibly convoluted set of circumstances that can’t be defined by traditional means? Are you and your interest star-crossed lovers draped across different eras, only catching brief moments with each other through rips in the space-time continuum?

Is he Batman? He’s Batman, isn’t he? I knew it!

Criminal: "Who are you?!"Batman: "'s complicated."

I’m addressing this to women because, for whatever reason, I find they do this far more frequently than men. Honestly, ladies, I just don’t understand what’s so complicated about the question of whether or not you’re seeing some dude. If you’re not his girlfriend, there’s nothing complicated about it. He’s either not interested, not interested enough to make a decision, or you’re the other woman. Is it really that complex?

Honestly, I wonder if it comes down to a desire for attention, conscious or no. Putting “It’s Complicated” as your status will invariably get you questions and inquiries that you may not be comfortable in answering. But if you’re not comfortable answering the questions, you shouldn’t invite them with that specific status. There are certainly those who put “It’s Complicated” as their relationship status due to a desire to have their friends go “oh sweetie, what’s wrong?

Though it’s not just the attention and concern from friends one may desire, but rather the actual love interest himself or herself. “It’s Complicated” may be a public plea for the other person to agree to – or come up with – a concrete definition of the relationship, or to give the person more care and attention. Seeing someone? “Well, it’s complicated…isn’t it, Daniel?”

Regardless, there’s nothing really that complicated about it. You’re either single or you’re not. You’ve either entered into a relationship or you haven’t. You either want to disclose the details or you don’t. Putting “It’s Complicated” isn’t an answer or a definition; rather, it’s an invitation to add even more discomfort, awkwardness, and confusion to what is already an obviously sticky situation.

My suggestion? Keep it as single or change it to a blank status. After all, you are essentially single, whether you want to admit it or not.

More importantly, I think you should find a guy or girl that actually wants to be with you. You deserve better than indecision, complication, half-hearted measures and uncertainty. Go find someone who, at the very least, will make you happy enough to not care what your status says on Facebook.

REACT: Have you ever set your status to “It’s Complicated” or do you have it set as that now? Why?


22 Responses to It’s Complicated

  1. Will King says:

    Putting it as simply as I can, I don’t know why and can’t understand why people would have it set to “it’s complicated” for any other reason than attention.

    I’ve seen it on my own Facebook and it just makes me shake my head.

    I, personally, would never use that option, if “it’s complicated” than it’s personal and shouldn’t be spread out there for everyone to see.

    How could setting your relationship status to “it’s complicated” have any type of positive effect?

    I know if my then girlfriend, now wife, ever put that up as a relationship status it wouldn’t of had a positive effect on me.

    If you are together (as in, boyfriend & girlfriend, or married) then you are in a relationship, if you aren’t together then you aren’t in a relationship.

    I’m probably in the minority, but it’s pretty black and white to me.

  2. Tony Barbaro says:

    I will admit to being a Facebook addict. I just can;t go thru my day with out knowing what someone’s status is. As far as the relationship thing, I had a FB friend go from “in a relationship” to “is single” in like 3 hours….now that IS complicated. It also bugs me that people who are not married, but “seeing someone” don’t consider themselves single. maybe I am old fashioned(or just old) but you either married or single. Go to go change my status…..

  3. Colleen says:

    Single baby, now and forever!!!!!!

  4. Katie L says:

    I’ve never seen a serious “It’s Complicated”, mostly seems to be friends that jokingly say they are in relationships with each other…or maybe that’s what I assumed but it really was complicated…in any case, I agree that it is a description designed to get attention. This is facebook we are talking about though, so I am not sure what isn’t designed to get the attention of someone (inspirational/sad quotes, publishing pics, doing surveys, etc.).

  5. Sue says:

    Well said. “It’s Complicated” is nothing more than an attempt to get attention, usually perpetrated by those who claim to not want any attention in the first place.

    You know these people. They feed on drama – and then tell everyone they can’t stand it.

    I leave mine blank. If I’m in a relationship, the only people that need to be clear on its status are me, and the other person. Hopefully, I’ve chosen smartly enough that he doesn’t need facebook’s help figuring out what’s going on between us.

    Maybe facebook should add another option – Hopeless.

  6. Joe says:

    Kevin my status is set to married but in my case it really “is complicated” because we did get married in NY, but same sex marrige is not legal in NY.
    something to think about……

  7. As the devil’s advocate I’ll try to address why someone would put “It’s Complicated” in different scenarios:

    1) They’re cheating on their current sig. other.
    2) They’re cheating with someone else’s sig. other.
    3) They’re not yet divorced, but not exactly still “married.” I know it’s complicated, hence… I have a friend in this situation – they call it “separated,” because you’re not married, not single, not yet divorced, so…
    4) They’re in a relationship with an inanimate object, or a pet. Hey, read up on that, it’s more common than you think!
    5) Rule 34.

    So, those are my assessments. Granted I don’t agree with them all, but those are the assumptions that I make when someone can’t make a decision. Gotta love indecisiveness.

    • Kari (#7) – In my mind, the third number on your list is actually a case where “It’s complicated” could be a legitimate selection, if only for lack of a better one. Always the option of leaving it blank, but that’s one where it’s a sticky situation regardless.

      Joe (#6) – I don’t see anything complicated about New York’s violation of your right to life, love, liberty, and the pursuit of your happiness. But hey, that’s just me.

  8. Cute~Ella says:

    You hit the nail on the head Mr. Marshall. Those I know who have listed “It’s Complicated” are either kidding themselves, attention seekers or know damn well that although they consider themselves attached to the person they’re seeing and don’t want to see anyone else, they are in fact “the other woman” (I’ve never seen a guy list that status.)

    I always chortle with a smirk whenever I see that because without fail, it turns into mega drama. But then again, I’ve changed my relationship status exactly once on my facebook account EVER and it was because it meant a lot to my boyfriend.

  9. I didn’t even think of Joe’s point from the “legal” aspect. If it were me, I’d put “married” too, because IMHO the status is simply that, as well as a state of mind for some people.

  10. Ellie says:

    Way back in the early 90’s, when I first got on the internet, the nebulous area beyond Prodigy’s safe zones, I decided I would be completely honest with the world. It was a luxury I didn’t have growing up. I simply couldn’t be honest with faux friends, family and the bullies in my school. So for nearly 20 years (yes, I was on the internet at 10), the online world has been the realm in which I can be, to a greater extent, me.

    Facebook offered a means for full disclosure. Was a single? Liberal? For awhile, I was married to eggplant parm. Oh, it was true love.

    I know someone who’s used “It’s complicated”, because she was estranged from her husband, seeking a divorce, but unable to finalize it because he refused to sign the papers. She certainly wasn’t married to him, but she wasn’t legally free to engage in other relationships. It was complicated. Using that status was to her a means to be as open as possible with the situation and helped her alleviate some divorce related stress.

  11. Lola says:

    Kevin, I agree with your thoughts on this, completely. It’s one big ball of confusion, isn’t it? However, back in my online dating phase, I can’t tell you the number of men that I would meet that when asked, “so, what’s the current status with your ex-wife/girlfriend”, answered with “well, it’s complicated.” No, YOU’RE complicated.

    Personally, I’m very ‘black and white’ kind of lady. It’s either over or it’s not, and when it is over, there is no turning back. If there is one element of my character that I feel extremely confident about, it’s knowing exactly what I want in life. While I don’t fault those that aren’t as assured, I know that anyone that has to label their relationship status as ‘it’s complicated’ really might want to think twice about advertising it. Wouldn’t you want to keep that to yourself – work it out, work on yourself, clean up your emotional availability and then, proudly advertise your relationship status if you feel you want to?

  12. ggiuliano says:

    I know someone whose relationship status in FB suddenly changed from “married’ to “it’s complicated.” Naturally all the FB “friends” were curious. It really *was* complicated. He learned his wife had (and still has, this is a recent status change) a serious boyfriend, but had not moved out of the house yet and they were not legally separated. I believe it was his way of accepting it, and informing people that something happened without giving all of the details. OK by me.

  13. Wendy V says:

    See? I told you – it’s all about getting attention. Even negative attention is attention.

  14. Erin L says:

    I’m in agreement with the whole attention-seeking thing. It either is or it isn’t a relationship, and “it’s complicated” it begging for questions and screams “high school!”

    Screw that.

  15. Awesomedude says:

    Here is my rubric:

    If a dude has the complicated message up it means one of two things- his gf hasn’t broken up completely cleanly with the dude because he is being a crying baby about it…and they don’t want to acknowledge that its over…she’s banging some other guy etc.

    Or two, she is banging some other dude…won’t commit to beginning a relationship and the (crybaby) dude is hoping by pretending there is a semblance of a relationship that it will eventually turn into one.

    Both scenarios do some good however- they let everyone in the world know that the dude posting is not manly in any way shape or form…

    Girls say its complicated for one reason and one reason only- they are banging some guy with a gf or who has made it clear he will never commit to them. By saying its complicated women are attempting to pretend their booty call status has some sort of sophistication. ‘Well its complicated, he’s on the road alot, we’re kind of at different points in our lives, I don’t have the emotional time to give, blah, blah, blah…’ Yes the world has a thousand Mr. Big’s, I’m one of them…you’re still just a piece of ace and nothing more.

    Nietzsche once said women, like truth, should never be approached directly. Which is fine, women cheat and let themselves be booty calls all the time…they just don’t want to admit to it. Hence you get the its complicated…

  16. mms says:

    I have a facebook page so don’t get me wrong, its a great way to catch up with old high school friends and other people I haven’t talked to in a long time. I guess I don’t understand how people can spend 5-6 hours a day on fb just trolling peoples’ pages. If you put “its complicated” on your page, it’s your business. The people who are on there judging you for writing “its complicated” are the same people who go to your page 3 or 4 times a day to see if you have put up any new posts, messages or pictures. If you think people are “seeking out attention” by writing these things, then stop going to their pages and staring at their pictures, profiles and posts and go outside and get some fresh air.

  17. I used to put my status as “It’s Complicated” with my hamster as a joke. I stopped when I realized people might misunderstand it in horrific ways.

  18. derryX says:

    I’m pretty sure my current status could be classified as “It’s complicated” but I would never actually set it that way because all that does is open the door to uncomfortable questions and people wanting to know things they dont need to know.

    It’s kind of akin to something I linked you to regarding a standup comedy routine by Nick Swardson. He does a bit about the absurdity of Myspace’s sexual orientation options, which, if you don’t know are “Straight,” “Gay,” “Bisexual,” or “Not Sure.” It’s actually a pretty hilarious joke.

  19. ram says:

    @2 It bothers me a little that you think single and married are the only options. I have been with my boyfriend for six (almost 7) years. We are not yet married because we want to wait until we have the money to really have a life. Yet since we began dating I have not once thought I would ever be with anyone else. So according to you I am single? How does that make sense? I am not open to anything other than marrying him when the time is right. But I’m not married yet. So I am in a relationship. Why is that a problem?

  20. Jessica R says:

    “Wait, when you change your facebook relationship status with someone else, doesn’t the other person have to “approve” it – thus making it also their status? Or is “It’s Complicated” not handled this way? Why does it have to be some complicated?!?! If the other person is forced to also have “It’s Complicated” then the whole “I’m screwing someone behind someone else’s back” thing is irrelevant.”

  21. #20 RAM – You are what’s called “In A Relationship” on Facebook.

    I think “it’s complicated” would be acceptable for someone who’s separated, though I agree with #10 Kari – technically they’re still married. I do get very annoyed when someone who’s separated presents them self as single. Separated is what I call “The Drama Zone.”

    I can’t believe that Facebook doesn’t have separated as an option – hell, they even have “In an open relationship” – isn’t that the same as “it’s complicated?”

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