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Once upon a time you were happy and “In a Relationship” on Facebook.  And then . . . Wait for it . . . There it is: you started to notice how much attention his profile was receiving. Whether a flirtatious wall post, a compromising tagged photo, or you being exposed to his personal account—forms of seething jealousy were onward bound.  And, as the story goes, it ripple waved into a dramatic showdown between you two.  Your relationship status and emotional sentiments were eventually updated to “It’s Complicated.  You two will surely break up in the near future.  The End.

You aren’t the only one irked by your partner’s Facebook reception.  Over 50% of surveyors admit to growing jealous and insecure in their relationship due to activity on Facebook. Perhaps this is because the entire Facebook experience is a hatchery for relational jealousy, ignited by a number of scenarios:

The Picture. A classic “Having the time of our lives” shot is added to his recent pictures: a party atmosphere gleaming with Jack-o-lantern smiles, sweat studded foreheads, and toasts to the photographer.  L’chayim.  He has that stretched goofy grin painted on his face, the one you know from personal experience, the one that only creeps out during the best of times.  He’s happy, his boys are happy, but that chick—the one clutched to him in partial embrace—she’s extra happy and you sense something in her smile and eyes begging for full coverage.

Common Response: A lingering stare followed by a customary inquiry, “Who the F*@! Is she?”  A neurotic brainstorm ensues as you scan through his pictures, rampage his friend list, and attempt to solve the mystery of the friendly female friend.

The Wall. A female you don’t recognize leaves “Thank you!” on his wall.  Slightly invasive, but you can’t help but wonder what her thankfulness stems from.  You don’t have access to her profile to pry as freely as you’d wish so you’re left idle, sitting behind your computer with nothing but pushy presumptuous thoughts.  It could be innocent—maybe he wished her well on her birthday and she was thankful.  Or maybe not so innocent—he complimented a picture of her clad in a little bit more than a birthday suit and, yes, she was thankful.

Common Response: You’re going to ask him about it or silently obsess about it.  Either way, it has formed an impressionable wrinkle in your brain.

The Status. It’s a day when he’s clearly feeling himself, and his FB status proclaims it with ringing bells.  His self-boast cries for attention: his 6 pack is upgrading to an 8; his promo at work is signed, sealed, and delivered; or he identifies with a particular Jay-Z quote that beats its chest with bravado.  On cue, a stream of applause follows his update with congratulatory praise and a slew of “Like” clicks. Traditionally, some girl goes IN and leaves a comment that is the real world equivalent of a set of shimmying pom-poms and a high kick.  He responds coyly and she serves again, this time with greater force.  The volley continues, and, sure enough, a “wink” emoticon or inside joke is sure to surface any moment now . . . Wait for it . . . There it is.

Common Response: Disgust, lathered in suds of annoyance that will surely manifest indirectly in your future correspondence with him, a.k.a. “You will act the F*@! Up!”

The Poke List. It was accidental (or a keenly executed maneuver), but you snagged a glimpse of his poke list.  A long list of blue highlighted names exposes a network of flirtatious admirers who wouldn’t mind a poke or prod from yours truly.  While there is no obvious rationale behind your feelings of betrayal—they still stir.

Common Response: Irrationalized drama milli-steps away from BEEF.

Relationship Status. It’s no secret—in the real world you guys are an item.  However, in the online sphere you’re unattached because he doesn’t want to write who he’s in a relationship with, or he chooses to exclude the relationship tab all together.  It’s not that you necessarily need the online community to know that you two are chain-linked together; however, his opposition is undeniably sketchy.

Common Response: Drama.

Why Does Facebook Summon So Many Jealous Feelings?

Facebook is helium to the relationships on it; they’re susceptible to being gassed up and burst.  By design, it’s voyeuristically invasive and encourages its participants to believe that their minor activities are monumental.  Where else does declaring a night out with the girls solicit public commentary and is worthy of publication in a News Feed accessible to a 3rd of the world’s population?  A matter of fact: Facebook does such an awesome job at mustering up sensationalism that people begin to view themselves and other people by their profile; our real life selves seem to fall short when measured up against the height of approval received by our online selves.

It is no wonder that all of the “love” that his profile lassos strikes so many nerves in you: it is marketed as big packages, and, naturally, you regard these packages as big deliveries.  However, know better.  Just because Facebook wants to act like the anti-Cupid, doesn’t mean you two have to be casualties of love. Successfully step above the neurotic jealousy trip that Facebook specializes in provoking.

Unless, that is, you’re just a jealous person.  In which case, you should disregard this entire article.

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  • Alexandra

    Social networking is really messing up this generation.

  • Julia

    GREAT ARTICLE!

  • ellejaysee

    I went digging on my fiance and I got real dirty! There was so much dirt in his inbox that if we didn’t have a child together, there would be no us. He had to convince me that all he was doing was flirting but these flirts were emotional affairs! If that girl didn’t live 400 miles away I never would have believed that there was no screwing going on.
    The problem isn’t FB, it’s our generation who is so addicted to fame and attention-regardless of who they hurt. Everyone wants to star in their own reality show.In the end FB had to go.If you need attention, go to a club.I can handle a night out with the guys.

  • I definitely think Facebook can ruin a relationship. I’m not currently in one, but I would feel some type of way if my boyfriend had no photos of me on his page and no relationship status. If I’m an important part of his life, my presence should be automatic on his page!

    I blogged about it.
    http://singleindependentsistah.wordpress.com/2010/03/21/outing-the-secret-significant/