As a sex and relationship expert, I can always turn to a couple’s social media to help uncover layers of dysfunction that have built up over time. Whether you realize it or not, social media updates and comments send subtle signs to the viewer and the universe about the health or longevity of your relationship. Most of it boils down to the fact that oversharing on social media ruins relationships.
There is a delicate balance between oversharing and sharing, and the healthiest couples seem to have mastered it. However, I see the following signs over and over again in couples that use social media to their detriment. Here are some of the top social media signs that the relationship is in trouble.
Sharing isn’t all bad. I’m not suggesting that at all. In fact, a study in the journal of Social Psychological and Personality Science points out that couples who post pictures of themselves and share things about their lives online feel happier about their bond than couples who do not. Sharing is an important part of life, but bragging weakens a solid foundation. In fact, oversharing to the point of bragging is the sign of a relationship headed towards disaster. You have to ask yourself: is the union that perfect, or are you caught up trying to make others think that it is?
OVERSHARING ON SOCIAL: They continuously boast on social media about how in love they are and how grateful they are to have found each other.
You’ve witnessed this first hand when the gossip hits that your favorite online couple has split up. How could this happen!?! They seemed like they were so in love!!! You go back through all of their public posts to see if any of the signs were there. They just had their anniversary, they’ve traveled to luxurious locations, shared photos of their rose-petal-covered bed, and bragged about every sweet morsel of life the two share together.
A recent study conducted at Albright College looked at individuals with their self-esteem dependent upon how well their relationships were going. These people felt compelled to brag about their relationships online. They were more concerned about how their relationships were perceived than they were about the actual quality of the relationship. Being overly consumed with perception instead of reality is a very unhealthy space for anyone to occupy.
All relationships have ups and downs, and none are perfect. But these oversharers want to convince themselves and their followers that things are better than they are. These pieced together illusions can make it dangerous for the couple who have created high expectations for themselves. But it is also hazardous to the voyeuristic viewer who unknowingly and longingly models their relationship off of the fairytales displayed through social media.
Remember as a kid when your mom tried to explain to you that the boastful kids at school were the most insecure? Well, nothing at all has changed. It’s just that those insecure bragging classmates are now adults. Don’t be one of them. Work on your relationship in private, and the rest will follow. It’s ultimately embarrassing to brag about a relationship and then months later explain to family and friends what was actually happening.
OVERSHARING ON SOCIAL: The pictures in the posts suddenly become ultra sexy!
Every relationship has boundaries, and you usually know what they are. I call this phenomenon the Know Your Audience Rule. With this rule, as a member of the relationship, you constantly keep in mind who your audience (partner) is, and what that audience is willing to accommodate. You are intimately familiar with their personality traits, what pisses him or her off, what pushes their buttons, and what you can do to get the response that you are after.
When you’ve been with someone long enough, you start to know your audience. For instance, there’s a woman with an extremely jealous partner who posts a selfie where she is greased up with baby oil, sunglasses on, and in her bathing suit. Or the guy who is out with the fellas and he posts a picture or video of himself with a group of club-girls, with full knowledge that his partner stalks his Instagram, Facebook, and Snap.
Oversharing sexualized posts are designed to agitate and shake things up in the relationship, and it usually works. Although you may not get the response, you expected. These posturing digs are strategic and carefully constructed to elicit a rise. When couples resort to this tactic, there is usually a goal in mind. They are either revenge seeking, trying to make their person jealous, they want to start an argument, or the relationship has ended (permanently or temporarily) and they want to send a f*ck you message. Either way, things aren’t going well, and sexy posts surely aren’t going to help.
OVERSHARING ON SOCIAL: Social Media Stalking…
Each time there is an update, the social media stalker feels compelled to comment. A status update goes up, and within minutes, their partner adds their two-sense. They are oversharing with the world how overly-consumed they are with their partner’s activity. The problem with this approach is that behind the public scenes of Instagram, Snapchat, and Facebook, this same social media stalker usually spends time monitoring and taking notes on with whom their partner chats with and on who comments on their posts.
The less obvious problem with social media stalking is that it smothers your significant other. Let’s compare socializing through social media to an old-fashioned phone call. Imagine that you go into another room to communicate with your family and or friends, and every time you make a funny comment, share a personal triumph, tragedy, or even give someone you love some advice, your partner is loudly discussing and co-signing from the other room…ugh.
What a drag…relationships need autonomy, and each person needs space to grow and breathe. If you don’t have any room of your own in real life because the two of you share so much, nor do you have any in your social media life, it breeds resentment. So, how do you tell your person to stay off your social pages? Most people can’t and you won’t. Instead, the couple begins to argue more about the small and unrelated things in life.
The real reason for the stalking is not because the two of you have such passion for each other. Social stalking is an extension of insecurity and a signal of underlying trust and communication issues. It is no different that physical stalking.
OVERSHARING ON SOCIAL: Doing ‘The Most’ on Social Media…
This person has even posted a picture of the homemade chili with a heart-shaped cheddar cheese block in the center, that the boo left on the table as a surprise after work…This is a classic oversharing moment.
Relationships have to have private moments to survive. To keep the relationship vibrant, you need small things that you can reminisce on when you are away from your person. Unshared moments allow you to giggle secretly to yourself. You can even silently reward yourself for a well-planned surprise. Staged precious moments don’t mean much because they devolve into photo ops for social media. Eventually those intimate memories begin to matter less and less to both parties. The relationship starts to feel staged, and for the person who doesn’t pose for pictures and videos quite as often, resentment takes hold. When social media photo ops drain the relationship of genuine occasions, the two open their union to jealousy and trust issues. Often one or both members of the relationship begin to long for something ‘real.’
Taking part in fun and exciting things breathes life and longevity into relationships. But when you partake not for the genuine moment, but instead to post for ‘the Joneses’ to see, it sucks that meaning right out of it.
OVERSHARING ON SOCIAL: Share with longevity in mind!
For relationship longevity during the age of social media, keep in mind that oversharing is not healthy for most relationships. So instead of oversharing, focus on four key things: 1) Try not brag about your relationship. Instead, be humbly grateful to have love in your life. 2) Do not push your partner’s buttons on social media. (Upwards of 17% of married couples admit arguing over social media. An estimated 20% of divorce proceedings mention social media), 3) Give your partner some space. Without a little room to breathe, you can smother your relationship. Last but not least, 4) Keep some of your life’s sweetest moments between the two of you, you will both appreciate them more in the long run.