Relationships According to Social Media

As I made coffee this morning, I struggled to remember what dating was like before social media became a part of every day life. I thought back to the days of anonymity, speculation, and sharing news by word of mouth. Before the days of Facebook, there was no definite box to click- “Single,” “In a relationship,” or of course, “It’s complicated.”

These days, relationships seem to be defined by a careful selection of what is shared for the world to see. You see the smiling faces in their filtered Instagram posts, their exciting activities through Foursquare check-ins, and photos of all the seemingly delicious food they’re consuming. I’ve scrolled through these posts while home by myself, watching Netflix and eating microwave popcorn in peace, wondering what is really going on behind the scenes. Sure, they’re enjoying meals together, tagging each other at cool places, and photographing every minute of their excursions for the world to see—but when I see a comment on one of these photos stating, “You look so happy!” I can’t help but wonder if it’s all a show.

Don’t get me wrong; I am not a relationship hater. The real question is, how many relationships are, well, real?

We all have those friends who post about their relationship every day. They must stake their claim on their significant other’s wall. It’s not really a relationship if it’s not Facebook official, right? Whenever I see couples communicating on Facebook, thanking each other for a great day moments after leaving each other, I wonder, would it be so difficult to call or text? Do they just want it clear to the world that they are, indeed, a thing? Personally, I’d rather be content by myself than constantly worried about what the world is thinking or what girls are liking my boyfriend’s status.

Eventually the inevitable happens in any long-term relationship—the talk of marriage. While many of my peers from the Midwest began to find a mate and settle down, I was heading to Taco Tuesday and having short-lived romances with men diagnosed with Peter Pan syndrome. Marriage is great for when you’re ready and if you have found your best friend and companion, but it discourages me how quickly people rush into it. When I see the pictures of couples with huge smiles and diamonds flashed in the air for the camera, a few things run through my mind:

“Awww. I’m glad he finally proposed!”

“I wonder how hard she hounded him to propose.”

“I didn’t even know they were dating.”

A quiet relationship is rare these days. I must say that I respect the people who focus on their personal lives rather than a digital perception of happiness. However, for the majority of social media users, everyone must know every detail about their relationship… including the wedding planning.

The next year will be a production. There will be high levels of stress for newly engaged brides… and they will let the world know. Incessant postings about wedding dress shopping, picking out a venue, engagement parties, bridal parties, bachelorette parties, asking for DJ recommendations, and menu tasting. This goes on and on, until the actual wedding, where the photos and videos are dragged out for yet another year or more. Once the wedding, and dieting, is over, brides live in the memories of that day they wore a white dress and had all eyes on them. Behold, reality.

From time to time I’ll catch up with one of these friends who appear to be extremely well adjusted and happy from their social profiles. The wedding is over, and the real world has kicked in. They’ve got the relationship, the house, and weekend trips to Home Depot. You can imagine my surprise when one of these friends tells me about their upcoming divorce, couple’s counseling sessions, or potential separation. “We really rushed into it,” they say. “We got married too young.” Sigh. They looked so happy on Facebook.

It’s difficult to tame my cynicism when every detail is laid out for the world to see… and I do hope that people are as happy off-camera as they are on. I just wonder how many people focus on their own happiness, not the happiness the world expects from them. Meanwhile, my own relationship status box is left blank, and I intend to keep the world guessing.

Photo Credits: Facebook, Celebuzz

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About the author

Kristin Fehrman - Diva of Deals

A Midwest born serial city hopper with a pesky shopping habit, I strive to live the good life. It's all worth finagling and the hustle as long as I can enjoy awesome restaurants, travel to new places and fill my closet.

3 Comments

  1. Rebekah says:

    I often think the same thing about social media and relationships. It’s pathetic that there is even an option like “it’s complicated.” Really, when you see someone switch from married to “it’s complicated” Those are the drama seekers and they want someone to ask, “what’s wrong?”
    I, as you know, am in a serious relationship. And yes the talk of marriage has come up. I’m not worried or stressed about it when it will happen, because I know it will happen. I also used to be very conscience of how much I appear on my boyfriend’s Facebook wall. We don’t Facebook each other to say cute things – anymore. We did when the relationship was knew and honestly it was done in away that would be best explained by that of a dog marking a tree with his scent. We call each other, we text we face-time, whatever. And I don’t care about his Facebook page anymore because he doesn’t login to FB unless his notifications and friend requests get really high and he just wants the notifications to go away.
    Today I posted several pictures of of He and I from over the weekend, and of course, someone commented “I’m so happy to see you so happy.” I hadn’t seen this person in 5 years so she’s just going off of this picture in which I was no more sober than I was in hundreds of pictures I’d posted prior. Except this time there was a cute guy in the picture with me rather than a martini. Not to say I’m not incredibly happy with Gio, because he makes me happier than a thousand matinis, but I do often question other people and their constant declarations of love on facebook. It makes me certain that their love is an empty hollow shell.

  2. The worst offenders are the ones who constantly complain about their significant other, and then boast about how fantastic their life is. Just keep your mouth shut. I cringe at the “you look so happy” in any context. Yeah, you “look” happy.

    I am glad you and Gio found each other! If you weren’t happy, I am sure I’d know it ;)

  3. Andrew says:

    A good friend of mine is a big fan of the phrase “close to the vest.” And I like it. I’ve started using it at every opportunity. Every detail of my life doesn’t need to be shared with the world, and that includes the relationships I enter into and move out of.

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