Social media (even what’s app) can be toxic for relationships, especially in the early stages.
From where I sit, social media is having a massive impact on relationships, and it’s not good.
Globally, I see social media heightens anxiety in both men and women, particularly within intimate relationships. It can highlight our fears & encourages us to doubt the person sitting next to us. It has the potential to destroy intimacy.
To understand what I’m saying, we need to ask what is the basis of a relationship? And trust is one of the first pillars of human connection.
I’m old enough to remember life before social media, when our dating barometers were how often he called or left a message (on an answering machine – remember them?) and what our friends had to say about him (“did you know he dated that girl from X street & things didn’t end well). Do I dare mention the TV sitcom Happy Days? Single life seemed sweeter, easier.
Cut to 2018 & the minute a guy is interested, we’re Facebook, instagram, what’s app, & snapchat friends. We upload and album of pictures of “us” to Pinterest. We are almost offended if he doesn’t click on us immediately on every platform, right?
And isn’t that moment great when we hear “I want to connect with you publicly- you mean something to me” from him. Well it .. kind of is, for a moment. But more often than not, not for long, because it’s usually way too soon and quickly leads to misunderstandings.
The problem for many, especially those with anxious attachment style (Click here for scientist John Bowlby’s data on this insightful way to understand who we are emotionally), social media provides a mind-field of insecurities and anxiety.
There is plenty of press and studies on the rising anxiety we see in the western world and the fact it is largely blamed on social media (and world events). In February this year, The Guardian reported anxiety as “totally paralysing, with hours spent focusing on nothing else but this one issue,” when talking about Generation Y. In January this year, Vogue said “millenials are the most anxious generation in history.” The Australian ABC asked if society not just serotonin is to blame for depression in February 2018.
Let me ask you if you’ve ever asked yourself these questions of a new love interest (albeit in your head and not directly to him I hope);
Who are those 3 girls regularly commenting on his Instagram photos? Why aren’t there any girls with him in his Facebook photos (what is he hiding?) Why is his what’s app time register off, then on ? He has read my what’s app message but not responded for hours – why? Who IS that odd woman on the top of every instagram story I post and is she his ex? Why has he been offline for 36 hours? Why isn’t he geo-tagging his Instagram pics this weekend? … You get the drift.
Lets get real: The 3 girls could be his colleagues, sisters or mate’s wives, work are on his Facebook so he has no social pics there, his sister is hassling him so his what’s app timeline is off, he hasn’t responded because he read your message, loved it and got distracted, he’s been offline for 36 hours because he is ill, or meditating at a retreat, The new woman on your feed is the girl in your coffee shop who has a crush on you, and unbeknown to him, his geotag notifications is off.
The thing is, none of the above information is going to help you or bring you closer to your man. And guess what? Not withstanding all of your projections above, he is possibly totally into you & has been looking at your photo 5 times a day, he’s so smitten. But you are creating a monster within yourself for absolutely no reason.
This is the best way to kill an attraction fast. Social media can create a huge wedge in relationships almost instantly, for no rational reason at all. I am often stunned at what I see in the singles world.
I have many friends who have cracked the Facebook and/or Instagram algorithm and can see who has looked at their profile, how many times & when. There are even apps for it. But I have to ask – what for?
Because as single women, all we have to ask ourselves is what does any of the above mean? And the answer, is simply, nothing.
By our intelligent super-sleuthing, we may see our ex on our Facebook 5 times a day. That guy we dated last week might have 9 girls he’s regularly chatting to. And the former love of our life we still burn for might be off-line every weekend for days and never looking at our social media. When we find any of this info out, we are largely left feeling TERRIBLE. We are HURTING OURSELVES.
And we are making assumptions & judgements based on nothing when we look at any social media. Social media has no real facts & is not the real world. It creates limiting beliefs – the last thing anyone needs in life to go forwards.
The answer in dating is to get to know someone in real time & if we want answers, look them in the eye, pick up the phone & ask the real questions – calmly, kindly.
Actions speak volumes. A man ( or woman) can make a thousand promises in words – and social media is similar. You may THINK he’s behaving in a certain way. BUT YOU DON’T KNOW.
But the actions you see in real time, in real life ARE REAL – and are the only thing that matters. Is he in regular communication? Is his communication open & honest? Does he follow through on promises? Does he say what he means & means what he says?
I’d honestly recommend not being friends on social media with someone who matters in your life – at least at first. Give the connection some space.
Get to know each other authentically. Talk. Face to face, on the phone. Hang out in person. See if he steps up or let’s you down. Ask real questions, such as “what would the last 2 girls you dated say about you?”, “what gives your life meaning?”, “ why are you single?”, “what do you want from life?” .
The room for misinterpretation within all aspects of social media is so high, why would you risk something as precious & special as real connection in that space? It’s not worth it.
And if you must communicate online (because he’s away or you work different hours) consider the old style love letters (via e-mail if you must). They can be the most intimate, loving & sexual communication there us. Yep, even in 2018.
The bottom line is that direct communication within relationships is the best. Don’t put images up on instagram in hopes he will interpret them a certain way. And never post anything to get a reaction. That is creating a conditional relationship. The love you want is unconditional, which is hard enough to find in the real world, let alone on social media.
Instead, put your energy into your own life & your emotional security & be who you are.
If you struggle on any level with social media, get off it. There’s never any shame in that. Let someone see you in the light of day for who you are. As only from there can you go forward with integrity, authenticity, respect & ultimately, love.
And trust. It’s the only way forwards.