Should You Friend Your Spouse?

One of my favorite moments in the history of social nets is the scene in The Myspace Movie when the girlfriend looks at her boyfriend’s myspace page and realizes she’s not in his top friends and goes beserk.

Social nets are great for meeting people, connecting, etc. but they pose some specific problems for those in a relationship. What exactly is the role of the boyfriend, girlfriend, or spouse in your social network?

The Gotham Gal reads this blog every day but has never commented on it. Is she a member of this community? Maybe, but not a particularly active one. I comment on her blog from time to time, but it always feels a bit strange when I do that.

I started thinking about this the other day when I saw a twitter post from Kylie that said:

      Has convinced the husband to sign up for Twitter and give it a spin!

The Gotham Gal doesn’t Twitter and she doesn’t follow my Twitters (other than those she sees on my blog). But the fact that I was riding to the GWB this morning would have been interesting to her since I left the house before she got up. I can see how it might be useful.

She doesn’t have a Facebook profile, a myspace profile, or any social networking presence other than her blog (which is the best profile on can have in my book). So all my social networking activity is  basically  invisible to her. I don’t think that’s a big deal one way or another.

Unless, of course, there are problems in a marriage. Brad Stone had a story in yesterday’s NY Times on the amount of electronic surveillance that spouses in troubled marriages do on each other. There was no mention of social networking in that article, but I have to believe social nets will find their way into divorce court soon enough if they haven’t already.

If social nets are going to map our social relationships correctly, they’ll have to include our closest relationships. I am sure that for many who are ten or twenty years younger than me, they do. But as my generation goes social networking, do we take our closest relationships with us? Of that, I am not sure.

#VC & Technology

Comments (Archived):

  1. jackson

    Very tricky business – still workin’ out the rules over here…….

  2. fewquid

    Interesting question — my wife and I were discussing this just the other day. She has a Facebook account that she uses to keep in touch with friends. I recently set one up to explore the platform. My contact are primarily business related, not personal. I find I’m loathe to mix my business and personal life to any great degree, especially when the data is randomly public, like Facebook.I think this goes back to something someone (you?) said a while back: in the long run, social networking is really more of a feature than a product. I’d like a social net for my personal life and one for my business life, and a fair degree of control over who gets to see both…As for spouses not posting comments on each other’s blog, here’s a cautionary tale… The first flame/spam comment I had was actually a practical joke from my wife — no one knows better than your spouse how to wind you up… 😉

  3. dgulbran

    I don’t think it’s a problem in a strong relationship. I do think it might be a problem in a weak one…My wife reads my blog, but never comments on it… she comments in person. And she doesn’t blog, twitter, facebook, myspace, link-in, or any of those things. It’s just not her thing.I don’t *hide* anything I do on-line from her… I don’t have to, wouldn’t want to. So I think if you have divergent interests, it’s just fine. Personally, I like the fact that we aren’t into exactly the same stuff (but do share many common interests).If, however, your wife/husband/girlfriend/boyfriend _were_ into all those things, then why *wouldn’t* you want to include them? If not, I think the bigger question is _why_.

  4. Eric Rice

    Heh, my wife doesn’t use nor have the same social marketing needs I do–so she’s not on all 34873478 million socnet sites. It’s limited to reading my blog and browsing my flickr stream– and now Twittering (only cuz she got an iPhone), where I’ve already been asked ‘what did you mean by this?’ when I’m all artsy/obscure/moody.Most of my closest friendships barely use any of this. If they do, it’s because I tell them to, but we end up just calling each other up on the phone or using IM.Owning your words is different in real time/same space than in a historical context (five minutes ago in the other room vs. five years).

  5. simon

    “I don’t think it’s a problem in a strong relationship. I do think it might be a problem in a weak one…”what dgulbran said

  6. Tom

    I always thought “twittering” your spouse meant something else…

  7. PBradshaw

    Heh heh, Fred, for some strange reason this whole post… the whole idea of this even being a concern… seems creepy.I know what you mean though. For a long while technology added to productivity and leisure only. Now, it’s adding another layer on the complexity of personal relationships.Some of the things we do on social nets, what we say publicly on apps like Twitter and other new methods of interaction can have deep and long lasting implications on our relationships with friends and sig others.I know I certainly stick my foot in my mouth with girlfriends enough over the years. I sure didn’t need something to help me do that faster! Aarrrgghhh!

  8. anjanettew

    It would not be a problem for me but I can’t even get my husband to set up his own profile anywhere (except LinkedIn but that’s because he was thinking about looking for a job)

  9. RacerRick

    It’s definitely awkward to have attractive females as Friends in Facebook (not so much in Linkedin because of the lack of photos). I make sure to tell my wife immediately in able to avoid future sleeping on the couch situations.

  10. Matt

    It’s not a conscious thing, but my wife and I actually use social networking and other online tools quite a bit in our marriage. We tag URLs as “formatt” or “fortoby” when we find things that we think would interest the other. We often see how a day is going based on a Flickr stream. Facebook status can say a lot.They say communication is key to a healthy marriage, so why not use online tools as just another way to communicate?

    1. David G

      Great response – I totally agree. Facebook in particular is nothing more than a communication device – why wouldn’t you want to communicate with your spouse?

  11. Jon Kelly

    Funny timing on this post for me. I just got my wife onto Facebook last week. I’m not sure why exactly, but I think I just wanted her there since I’m starting to spend more time on the site. I also just put my blog in her MyYahoo, mostly because I occasionally refer to her and wanted to know that she was reading it.