Do Facebook's Relationship Statuses Need More Flexibility?

If your partner isn't on Facebook, then too bad - you can't display the identity of who you're involved with.

What do you do if you’re married or in a relationship with someone who isn’t on Facebook, but you want to identify your partner on your profile? Good luck with that.

When it comes to identifying your partner on Facebook, if your spouse or significant other isn’t on the social media site, you can’t list that person. We know the rationale for this: the social network wants to encourage more people to join the site. Linking to a partner off of the site seems like a lost opportunity for advertisers to target messages to both people in the couple.

And features like photo tagging gain utility when both parties in a relationship have accounts on the site — sure, you can type in the identities of people who don’t have profiles on Facebook, but the result doesn’t link to other images of the individual.

But those issues apparently don’t matter to Love Better Camp. This Christian nonprofit based in New Jersey started a page last week called “Keep Marriage Visible” to campaign for the social network to allow spouses to be listed on profiles even if they don’t have accounts on the social network. Organizers say their solution is simple: “Allow users to include the name of their spouse, but provide no click through link if the spouse is not on Facebook.”

The Keep Marriage Visible Campaign’s wall asks fans to include a link to the page and post a status update or Tweet saying: “JOIN the Keep Marriage Visible Campaign to support love and marriage.” So far, the page has fewer than 100 fans — some might call that low.

Update: We asked Facebook about whether you can link to a partner who doesn’t have a profile on the site and after some back and forth, have clarified that if one’s partner doesn’t have a profile on the site, you can still list yourself as being in a marriage or relationship, but you can’t specify with whom. We’d seen at least one blogger today post to the effect that one can’t even list yourself as married without identifying who with, and that is incorrect.

Do you think people should encourage their spouses and significant others to join the social network? How can Facebook’s relationship statuses better accommodate different lifestyles?

Note: Jackie Cohen added commentary to this post.