Valentine's Day: when your partner says, "It's Complicated" on Facebook

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Just yesterday, you had Rihanna's "We Found Love" on blast. Now, it's two weeks before Valentine's Day, and your boyfriend's Facebook relationship status says, "It's Complicated."

A posting on Facebook is virtually an announcement to the world. He wants to let everyone know something about his relationship. But what is he really saying? And to whom? Let’s take a look.

The word “complicated” has various synonyms: abstruse, complex, tortuous, arduous, convoluted, perplexing, troublesome, entangled, difficult, multifarious. I’ve heard it said many times in the therapy room, and the word itself is, well, complicated. We can only infer its meaning by its context, and even then we must refer to the actual detailed description of events or situations to understand the picture thoroughly.

Outside of the therapy room, however, there is pretty much one common understanding of the word, especially, used in the context of one who wishes everyone in the whole world (except the romantic partner involved) to know that his relationship status is “Complicated."

What he really means to say is, “I’m in a relationship that I have serious doubts about, so, I’m available, or will soon going to be.” His intended audience? Another woman, other women, or other men.

You see, when a guy (or gal) is just not that into you, call it what you like. He/she is afraid of commitment, has intimacy issues, is confused, delusional, immature. It all means the same thing, he (or she) chooses the handle of “complicated” to label your relationship with him.

He also does this to avoid communicating to you his real feelings and issues, but in most cases, one foot is virtually out the door. Anyone who is genuinely struggling with issues in relationship (and they all have them) and wants to keep working at it may discuss the complexities to a therapist, or a close friend, but he does not publish that on the internet for the world to read, picking the one day of the year on which it will be most noticed.

Men or women who have affairs often describe their marriages as “complicated” to their would-be love interests. This is their way of saying that 1) they are available, 2) their spouse doesn’t give them what they need (sex, kindness, support, whatever, thus justifying the potential affair), and 3) they cannot leave their marriage yet because of the kids, the money, a special arrangement, their guilt, whatever.

Regardless of the situation, the recipients of their “complicated” love on either ends get only a part of them, never the whole person.

The choice to engage in an extramarital affair isn’t complicated in itself – you either control your impulses or you don’t. It’s the lies that have to be told to cover up the choice to be involved that make life more complex. The lies and cover-ups are meant to, in the words of one Scully, deceive, inveigle, and obfuscate.

I have no moral judgment about extramarital affairs or the people who have them. I just believe that they are messy and convoluted, involving layers of deceit, and in the end not worth the emotional costs they incur.

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