T here was once a time (not far ago) when people used to be able to express their feelings, showcase their love and share moments without having the need to project it onto Instagram. Yep, there was once a time when people did not use social media to showcase their profound feelings for one another.
By Bisma Shahmeer
Have you ever wondered how our lives would be different without social media? When our phones are often the first and last thing we see every day, it’s common to wonder how social media affects every part of our lives, including our relationships. While social media has its benefits—staying in touch with those we love, getting fresh wedding inspiration, networking, or meeting new friends—our lives online can affect our realities offline. It can even become concerning when one partner’s time on the internet starts to change the dynamic of a relationship.
But here’s something you should ponder upon- romantic bonds can begin through social media, but they can also be damaged by it. Whether it’s a “like” on a photo or one person is talking to other people, it’s easy to become jealous of our partner’s experiences online. But what happens when the problem isn’t caused by who we talk to, but the fact that we’re using social media at all? If you’ve ever felt like you’re competing with your partner’s phone for their attention, you’re not alone. The time we dedicate to our screens can change how we approach our partners in real life.
The time we spend on social media can affect our ability to communicate with those we care about. Research shows that, on average, we spend two or more hours a day on social media. Fostering relationships online can hurt our relationships offline. Those who have limited experience in reading people do not have the same level of social intelligence that previous generations possess. If this becomes the new normal, building strong, deep relationships will take more time and will be more difficult to maintain. The holds our devices have on us is invisible until someone actively calls it to our attention.
At the beginning of a relationship, we attend to the other person because we want to get to know them. We listen to their likes and dislikes, history, family dynamics, dreams, and fears. We spend hours in conversation discovering each other; no fact too small, no story too long. The building of the relationship has newness and surprises. During this time, it is critical that cellphones are out of sight while in conversation to ensure total concentration on each other. You should look into the dangers of messages getting misconstrued via text, especially when you’re still getting to know each other. Texting between each other should be positive and factual. Do not allow jokes or sarcasm to creep in, as they don’t translate well and create a rift instantaneously. While bonding over internet jokes or posts can strengthen your connection, your partner’s social media content might also become a concern. Have they posted something you disagree with, or do they share a different side of their personality online? Before confronting them, think about how the conversation would go in person—it might be best to wait until you see them again to bring up anything you’re uncomfortable with.
In the same way, while you may be tempted to share all aspects of your life on Instagram or Facebook, remember that your partner may not feel the same way. If it’s something you wouldn’t overshare with your neighbors, colleagues, and extended acquaintances in real life, it probably shouldn’t be on social media either. There is no need to take your private life public. Posting about your partner’s choice of a birthday present for you or gossiping are communications best left out of the public eye. While there are always risks involved when navigating social media and relationships, there are also ways to ensure that your communication stays strong. Focusing on your real lives together—rather than interacting mostly online—is important to create a solid foundation to build your relationship on. However as you approach your life on the internet, be mindful to think about your relationships in person before online. That’s not to say you need to put your phone down entirely, so there’s no need to delete your favorite apps. Social media can be exciting, fun, and a great way to relax (or keep up with friends from afar). But you need to draw the line somewhere. There have been major cases where people get completely intimidated and influenced by the rosy images couples share. That is not usually the case. In fact, in most cases- the truth is far from it. You need to understand that social media is just a reflection of all the good things you can get in life minus all the rough patches that come with it. Learn to accept that social media is great, but adapt it with a pinch of salt!