“I added my husband’s handle to my bio right around the time we got engaged three years ago. It kind of came along with that haze of OMG I’m engaged and so in love and everyone needs to know it! feeling,” said Natalie O’Grady of Portland, Oregon. “Now I feel like spouse is definitely part of my personal identity. I’m a lucky lady and while wife isn’t my entire world, I think I ended up with a pretty awesome partner, and I’m proud to be his partner, too.”
“As an intersectional feminist, I am much more than my marital status or the Fortune 500 companies that have employed me. But this is Twitter and both a professional and social venue for me,” said Michelle Jowitt of San Francisco.
Many said that while they weren’t completely defined by their significant others, their partners still play a major role in their lives. “If I’m going to say what my old jobs were, why not who my partner is? Who I married tells you more about me than anything,” said Jason Stanford of Austin. Jake Underwood of Indianapolis felt similarly. “I think the fundamental point of a bio is that it’s about me, and [my partner is] obviously a big part of my life,” he said.
Relationship tagging is also an effective way to ward off creeps. Alisa Richter of New York chose to add her husband’s handle to her bio after receiving repeated flirty DMs from several men. Making it clear that she was already taken was a passive way to stave off their messages. Once she made the change, the men backed off.
Richter said that she does understand how cringey it can seem to others. “Context and tone are key,” she said. “The way I’ve written it is really casual. To me it would be different if it was phrased like ‘I love my hubby!’ That is vomit-inducing.”
Some couples also said that the practice is the most effective way to promote their partners’ work to a broader audience. After Underwood got a higher-profile job that earned him more attention on Twitter, his wife noticed a bump in followers, too. Of course, directing a Twitter crowd to your spouse is not always a positive thing: It’s easy to imagine what could happen if you gave trolls direct access to someone who is incredibly important to you. Earlier this year, in the midst of a harassment campaign, trolls discovered the name of a previous partner of mine and attempted to doxx his entire family.
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Still, over the past decade Twitter has made almost no updates to its bio section aside from adding the ability to note your birthday or location. While other social networks prompt users to declare their interests, schools, and relationship status, Twitter has simply provided an empty box with 160 characters. If Twitter really wants users to share more personal information, it will have to fix its harassment problem. But until the platform does build some relationship-status indicator, a bio mention seems like the most effective way to tell people on Twitter that you’re happily taken.
Bea Arthur, a licensed therapist and the founder of the Difference, said that while she wouldn’t advise her clients to tag a partner in their bio due to privacy and harassment concerns, she thinks hating on the trend says more about the haters than those in happy relationships.