Social media has revolutionised the way we meet and court love prospects, but what impact has it had on our relationships?
In recent years it’s become increasingly popular for couples to “self-broadcast” or to take to social media to proclaim their love or share intimate moments. But has the added pressure to live up to #couplegoals or the expectation to become “Facebook official” put more strain on our romantic relationships?
IS SHARING CARING?
Nicholas Oshry, Head Coach at Soar Life Coaching, says social media has made dating increasingly complex. “Making a declaration of a new relationship or posting about milestones such as engagements, marriages, and babies in front of the family can increase levels of fidelity and follow-through within a relationship. It also lets acquaintances know that you’re involved with someone in much the same way as a wedding ring might.”
Privacy, however, can become a concern and intimate moments can easily lose their sense of intimacy when they’re displayed to the whole world. Feeling the need to self-broadcast can come from a place of insecurity – in this case a consistent need to receive validation from outside sources. Unfortunately, the more insecurity is fed by validation from others; the more it can grow and create a counterintuitive cycle.
Oshry says this is further compounded by seeing that your couple photos didn’t receive as many likes as someone else’s. “Relationship goals” are unrealistic expectations to try to live up to as people mostly share pictures where they are happiest, so it’s easy to forget that all couples have good and bad days, the latter is just not on your newsfeed.
MAKING THE MOST OF THE MOMENT
Psychologist Andile Mbatha says social media can also negatively affect the quality time you spend with your loved one. “When you are busy sharing moments online, you tend to disconnect from the present. It has become common to see young people at restaurants who are so engrossed in their phones that they barely talk.”
He adds that devices constantly interfere with your conversations and undermine your ability to connect with others because instead of deriving pleasure from your experiences and the people around you, you seek it from your phone. “When you are with your partner, or anybody of significance in your life make an effort to put your phone down and enjoy the moment with them.”
Online dating apps such as Tinder and Match.com have completely changed the face of dating. It’s now so much easier for people to initiate contact with potential romantic or sexual partners. To be successful on such apps, however, requires a whole new set of social skills. The concept of dressing well when going out has been replaced with posing and lighting for profile pics. Buying someone a drink has become as easy as swiping right.
Oshry says this has undoubtedly led to greater levels of promiscuity and infidelity. “For some it’s just an easy way to find one night stands. For others, it’s about finding love and companionship. Different apps and sites each predominantly cater for different purposes.”
There are a number of pros to online dating. It allows you to meet people at a faster rate, bolsters confidence and gives you the opportunity to speak to someone you might not otherwise have encountered. It also makes it easier to “approach” someone and to vet potential partners before actually meeting.
It is, however, easy for people to “catfish”, whereby someone deceptively portrays themselves online, often for some illicit reason, which can range from pedophilia to identity theft to semi-innocent fetishism.
“A milder form of this is simply that people represent themselves a certain way when they’re not face to face with you. When individuals have a chance to read and re-read the message they’re about to send you, or when they can Photoshop their pictures, they are very often not who they represent themselves to be,” says Oshry.
As with all dating, communication is key, he adds. “If you want to know something about the other person – whether it’s about their intentions regarding the date or about their outlook on life – don’t be afraid to ask. Guessing and waiting for something to make these things known to you is both unhealthy and counterproductive when it comes to forming any new relationship.”