How to Keep Social Media From Ruining Your Relationship
Social media is supposed to keep you in touch with friends and loved ones. It’s meant to keep you from missing out and being left out. It reunites you, informs you, and gives you a platform to keep up and “share”.
Yet social media is very often no “friend” to your relationship. Unfortunately, too many couples find themselves in relationship counselor’s offices sharing grievances and a sense of betrayal over the intrusive medium they’ve allowed to ruin their trust, intimacy, and sense of connection.
Is the whole online world coming between you and your partner?
Here’s what you need to do next.
A. Take back the power to power down
You can do this. And you can do it together. You’ll never get back to each other if either of you has one eye trained on the screen or your ears peeled for the next alert notification.
Put your partner first, it’s a crucial indicator that you are serious about saving your relationship and willing to put social media in its proper place. No one on your Twitter page misses you more than your partner. He or she deserves your attention.
B. Avoid the validation trap
Think about why you need to keep yourself or your relationship on stage and subject to public approval.
Good or bad, your relationship is yours to enjoy, celebrate, or improve. Constantly allowing others’ scrutiny to influence your feelings about your partner, your life together, and how well things are going makes genuine engagement and assessment of your relationship impossible.
If your love and interaction must be validated from the outside, how can you gain a deep understanding of what’s authentic and lasting on the inside? Some couples find that they’ve spent so much time orchestrating the perfect relationship for public view that they never got around to creating it.
In reality, posting about every nuance of your relationship for approval can make time together too contrived, awkward, or controlled. Social sharing becomes a habit and you may start to feel obligated to share it all, all the time. So much so, you’re also apt to feel overly worried about perception, selfie angles, and the number of followers, friends, and tweets attached to posts. Before long, the relationship may start to feel shallow and unstable.
Head this off now. Try to talk to each other off camera. Praise each other face to face. Validate each other’s goals and your desire to build a mutual future. Selfies and tweets that show the highlight reel of your life together will fade. They inevitably get lost in a legion of other threads and feeds.
Focus on your partnership instead, social media will never make you feel as loved, appreciated and accepted as the person you invest in and choose to share your life with everyday.
C. Maintain Some Mystery
In the same vein, it is vital that you and your partner learn the true benefit of privacy.
Try to see a truly private personal life as a good, protective thing. A hedge around portions of your world is meant to be trustworthy, nurturing and important for the security of your relationship.
Should we really know what you and your partner look like in bed, first thing in the morning? Is it really healthy that either of you worry that last night’s fight becomes fodder for Facebook threads or eternal hashtags? Failing to protect those moments puts you more in a relationship with the Web than your partner. And problems of trust often develop quickly thereafter.
Continually capturing intimate moments in the car, at dinner, on the couch, in the tub, and so on, makes those moments public… not intimate. From there, organic conversation and engagement flounder. Thus, private time never really has the chance to bring yor closer or help create that inner world so necessary in lasting relationships.
It’s difficult to belong to each other alone if any number of people can comment on your relationship…and possibly even take advantage of any cracks or weaknesses they perceive.
Post your vacation pictures and birthday wishes, but leave your friends and followers guessing about your relationship. Don’t make a celebrity spectacle out of your love. It’s okay to celebrate your relationship privately.
D. Watch Your Social Media Mouth
This is a big one. Why? Because the implications and complications of oversharing or careless sharing can really do some relationship damage.
Essentially, it’s just too easy to type yourself into a corner.
Your own words, images, pictures, and memes can come back to haunt you and your partner if you aren’t very careful. On phone after phone, you can really embarrass yourself or go too far to come back easily.
Consider the wisdom of a face to face conversation or even a text (sent carefully and solely to your partner). If you handle issues via short-tempered tweet, the public nature of your dispute can make it very difficult to reconcile as others witness and weigh in on your problem. Even if you simply send a Facebook DM (direct message) and accidentally post it to your timeline, it’s difficult to undo what’s already been seen and read by your mutual friends’ lists.
If nothing else, keep your back off the social media wall by reading and re-reading that tweet or post before you send it. Again, your relationship deserves thoughtful time and attention. Ask: is this something I really want to put in writing? Is that something I want the world to know? Would it be more respectful or loving to go to my partner in person?
Finally, if you really feel that social media is the best way to connect or communicate effectively with your partner, challenge that thought. Consider couples therapy sessions to work on building some communication tools that may be more productive.
E. Reclaim your right to check out, sign off, and disappear
Does living without social media seem implausible? Ridiculous even? Believe it or not, it can be done. Even if your career involves some measure of social media exposure, more and more couples are finding freedom in simply not indulging the medium with regards to their relationships.
As stated above at point “A”, you have the power to change and shape your relationship. Whether you simply power off to get some perspective or sign off permanently, you and your partner can save your special, intimate world to live intentionally and privately ever after.
Want to learn more about how to make those changes? Consider relationship counseling.
About the Author
Dr. Stan Hyman is a licensed psychotherapist and life coach in private practice in Miami, Florida. He works with couples struggling with powerful issues such as infidelity, careers and intimacy. He also specializes in treating addictions, anger, anxiety, stress, depression and work life balance.