MythBusters: Social Media Relationships

From CoCo’s Desk

I could write an entire book on social media and its impact on relationships, but for the moment let’s just focus on relationship perception and social media. Now listen, (insert single hand clap that confirms I am about to say some real shit) the social media relationships that you are allocating all of your emoji heart eyes to, are simply the highlight reels of said couples relationship. In short, people show you what they want you to see, call it a love filter.

If I had a dollar for every time I saw someone post a #vacaywithbae photo or “I love when he surprises me with flowers,” when we both know full well that vacation and those flowers were because you caught him/her creepin’ or you just went off for the umpteenth time about his/her lack of communication; I could quit my job and buy a villa in Switzerland (I chose Switzerland ‘cause it’s hella expensive, not because I want to live there, I am Chicago AF).

Now I don’t blame anyone for keeping their dirty laundry within their relationship, no need to start posting about your drunken fights.  In fact I think the best thing to do is keep it behind closed doors (recognize somebody will slide in the DMs quick with the “hey stranger,” as soon they spot a weakness; although I have been known to hit a subtweet on a brotha in my heyday). I do however blame us for believing that there are relationships that don’t have dirty laundry (read: your #relationshipgoals are unrealistic). DMing your boo all the pictures of couples, being well, happy couples… and LOOKING perfect with all the hashtags #reallove #datenight #wemetonTinderbutitsreal #blahblahblah is doing nothing but stressing you (and me) out as you sit there wondering why your relationship can’t be just like the ones on your timeline.

Lady & The Tramp

The truth is their relationship isn’t even what you see on your timeline, that isn’t to suggest that people aren’t genuinely happy because in that moment they likely were. This should however serve as a reminder that these social media posts are simply snapshots in time, and should be weighted as such.

I read an Elite article (yes we actually read about the stuff we tell you) that suggests often social media posts are a way for us to seek validation (‘why you always lying’ you know you monitor your likes, I know I do …speaking of which go like my last post and give me some emoji heart eyes).

Our relationships are no exception to this rule, sexologist (which sounds like a bomb@$$ job), Nikki Goldstein explains that couples are often masking their insecurities while they serve us relationship envy on our timelines, using their unsuspecting followers to validate the love in their relationship. When I looked back (although they are deleted now #petty) at my old relationship photos, there were quite a few that appeared right after a ‘relationship hump’ (damn I’m guilty of being a millennial).

You aint gotta lie to kick it…

Goldstein also notes that social media posts are used as a way to lay claim to your significant other (you knew this already, ‘cause you’ve done it). I think of it as a digital hickie that lasts longer that no cold spoon can get rid of (has this remedy for hickies ever actually worked for anyone?). Usually this is a signal for an ex to back off or that friend that you know wants something more, to stay right there in his/her friend zone.

Either way some of what we see on social media must be recognized for what it is, a self-motivated act. Yes, yes I know what you’re wondering…it’s true some couples are always happy all the time, so everything Michelle and Barack post is real true love and they never ever fight but the rest of us, well, we are human so we love a lot but sometimes we #LaLa&Melo.

Unplugging may be a good way to ease some of this relationship anxiety (yes, seems pretty obvious). An Insider article argues that people that are on social media less, are actually happier (guess I am depressed because I am always trolling). We are all victims of the social comparison theory because we are never satisfied with our current situation as we constantly compare ourselves to others, relationships, professions, social lives, etc. while social media just offers us more people to compare ourselves to. Take some time to unplug and recognize there’s life beyond this screen, sometimes it’s lit AF but a lot of times it’s just Netflix and chill.

From J’s Desk

I don’t know if guys are more susceptible than women when it comes to social media peer pressure concerning relationships. However, Lord knows we suffer the brunt of the pressure women put on us when our relationship doesn’t mirror that of her friends (I also know that Snapchat/Instagram should create a filter where you can see the true story behind all the perfect life, relationship, pics, etc.). As I’ve gotten older I’ve learned women are more competitive than we’ve been led to believe, and social media brings their competitive nature to the forefront.

I don’t know of a guy who hasn’t had to suffer the wrath of a woman who is upset because his girlfriend believes their relationship should mirror what her friend posted on social media. I have one friend who literally knows that every time his girlfriend talks to a certain set of friends, goes to a wedding, or sees a social media post about marriage she’s going to start questioning their relationship. Ladies guys don’t want to hear what your friend’s boyfriend did for her, because we saw her boyfriend with another girl just last night. I never understood the point of blasting your love for a significant other on social media. Like don’t you see each other every day? Do you tell them that, or is all this pomp and circumstance for show?

Or even more common when your significant other puts pressure on you to post about your relationship or accuses you of cheating because you don’t post about it. Sometimes infidelity could be the answer but maybe you’re just not as sure as she is about the nature of the relationship (that’s often the case.) Social media can put undue pressure on a relationship to progress much faster than it would naturally. On the other hand it could cause a relationship to stagnate if one partner is more comfortable blasting to the world about their “bae” when the other person is a bit more reserved.

To be fair, guys do fall pressure to the social media mirage at times. Although, a lot of times when a guy is posting all about his relationship in my experience he is a recovering playboy, or is putting up a false front to cover up the fact he is creeping.

I always find it funny how some of my married/ serious relationship female friends share the joy of marriage or being in a relationship all over social media but when I talk to their partners the story is completely different.  Too many women use social media to find validation about their relationships. It’s amazing to me how people can put up one front to the world and be completely different in person. I don’t get it none of your social media friends are paying your bills, they can’t send you to heaven or hell, so why front?

I understand women and society put a lot of undue pressure on women to settle down, and social media only adds to this sense of urgency. However, tagging your man man in every social media post about happy couples is only going to cause him to retreat and look for other options.

While putting undue pressure on a relationship can be a bad thing it may be warranted at times, there is a delicate balance.  If you feel like you must do something to make someone happy or keep them, it takes the joy doing things because you want to make that person happy. At the same time if you’ve been dating someone for a while and the relationship isn’t growing it might be time to question the direction of the relationship (Pro Tip: I always tell my homegirls, never believe anything a guy tells you, believe everything he does, it’s how we’re socialized, we go for what we want.) Putting pressure on a relationship will kill it questioning the direction may kill it or strengthen it.

Competition or Comparison will steal your joy 99% of the time, instead of appreciating what is in front of you you’re worried about what everyone else is doing on Instagram or Facebook.  You only see a snippet in time of that relationship, you don’t see the arguments about money, fidelity, or even putting the toilet seat up or down.

Like the late 80’s R&B Group New Edition sang:

On a perfect day, I know that I can count on you /When that’s not possible
Tell, me can you weather the storm? /Cause I need somebody who will stand by me /Through the good times and bad times /She will always, always be right there./It is easy to be happy in the good times, but you can handle the storm.

I think we do our friends a disservice when we post only the highlights of our lives it gives an incomplete view of the ups and downs of a relationship and makes them feel as if they’re relationship is inadequate. Don’t judge a relationship based on how much fun you have, though that is important, judge it based on how you two handle adversity, how you two argue and compromise, that is the true strength test of a relationship. You can have fun with anyone, but you can’t go to war with just anyone.

My two cents:

  • Keep your relationship off the screen. Relationships are hard enough without worrying about what everyone else is doing.
  • You want real relationship goals? Go find someone whose been married 20+ years raised kids and ask them for the 411 you might come away surprised at how unglamorous yet fulfilling relationships can be.