Social media can make or break a relationship.
Social Media and Relationships
Recently, I was on Hot 97 and Fox 5 NY “Street Soldiers” discussing How Social Media destroys relationships. It was a 20 minute special series on social media and relationships, and it also aired on Hot 97 for a full 40 minutes nationally. So, why am I sharing that information with you?
Because clearly, social media is having much more of an impact on relationships than people realize for a network to run a 20-minute special segment on this topic. The majority of this blog is written for business owners who are looking to increase exposure. But, many business owners are either in relationships or are searching for one, so this topic is important to address.
We are living in a new world today, where social media can have a substantial impact on your work relationships, personal relationships and even romantic relationships. To ignore this is to ignore the new reality of the world we are living in today. And when you have so many generational differences mixed with differing levels of digital connectedness, it can potentially be a recipe for disaster. So, it’s important to know if you are digitally compatible with someone on social media. It can have long term consequences on the health and longevity of the relationship if you are not. You may think, “How absurd!” If the relationship was strong enough to begin with, it could sustain differences in social media incompatibility.
Well, if that were true, you wouldn’t see social media being cited in as many divorce cases and litigation and you also wouldn’t see so many relationships fail to launch as a direct result of social media. I am touching on a phenomenon here that many people experience in a very real way, yet few have actually talked about it. The primary reason for this being that we have not adequately explored the societal role of social media on long-term relationships due to the fact it is still a relatively new phenomenon. The more we address this and put a label to it, the easier it can be to determine if we are a match with someone in all of the ways that matter (because digital compatibility DOES matter).
It is a cop-out to say that strong relationships can sustain these digital incompatibilities. People are addicted to social platforms, often more than they are to their relationships. They can even serve as a primary attachment portal in place of a relationship because of the dopamine rush people get from the likes that they can’t get In real life. Before you write off this concept, consider if you have ever had an argument with your significant other or with someone you have dated because of differences in social media views. It is pretty safe to say that every couple at one point has had at least one argument over what is appropriate to post vs. what isn’t along with a plethora of other social media related issues and its impact on the relationship.
10 Social Media Signs You are Digitally Incompatible
Here are ten things to consider to determine if you are digitally compatible with someone:
1) Your partner cares more about their personal brand than the relationship. If your newsfeed is entirely dedicated to friends and family posts, but your partner’s newsfeed is all about their career, there may be a problem. Discuss this early on in your relationship. Your partner may be reluctant to introduce a new relationship on their feed because they only want to use social media to promote their latest career achievements. Or perhaps their company monitors their social media channels, and they don’t want to give out any personal information. You, on the other hand, use social media to share things you do with your family and friends. You can’t understand why your partner isn’t incorporating you into their digital presence. Their constant self-promotion may also leave a bad taste in your mouth. Without expressing your feelings about this, it can lead to hurt feelings and resentment.
2) Your partner is ambivalent about committing publicly. Announcing that you are in a relationship on social media shows a level of commitment to your new partner. If you post a relationship status or tag them in photos, but your partner doesn’t, it might make you look more committed to the relationship than your partner.
3) You post more about the relationship than your partner does. Maybe you post more about your relationship than your partner does. Do you see that as you being more committed to the relationship than they are? If someone resists sharing information about you with their circle on social media, it could show that they are resistant to sharing you in all aspects of their life.
4) You haven’t connected with your partner’s friends and family online. Do your partner’s family and friends show an interest in your life on social media? For example, has your partner ‘friended’ 15 of your friends and family on Facebook, but you haven’t connected with any of their friends and family? Why is it so lopsided? Is your partner afraid to fully integrate you into their life? If you have connected with your partner’s family online, do they like your posts or ignore them? Everyone wants to feel digitally connected with their partner’s family. If not, it is a red flag that may be indicative of a larger issue. Partners should feel digitally supported in the relationship by both families, not just one!
5) Your partner posts photos that make them look single. Does your partner post photos to maintain the appearance that they are single? If so, this can cause animosity and make your partner feel you are still seeking outside digital attention. This is different if your career requires it. For example, you are an Instagram influencer and your job is to maintain this appearance in the fashion world to sell more dresses. Regardless, you need to be with a partner who understands this and supports it. Be clear with your social media motivations up front to avoid any miscommunication. Are you willing to give up posting sultry photos on Instagram if it offends your partner? If not, make that clear before you get too deep into the relationship.
6) You have generational differences with your partner. Keep in mind that there are major social media differences between Baby Boomers and Millennials. For example, a millennial may expect their partner to view their Instagram story every day, like all their photos and comment on their posts. If the boomer is not active on social media, yet it is a core need for the millennial, it should be discussed before there is conflict. See if you can compromise on social media viewing habits and frequency. If not, you may be digitally incompatible.
7) Your partner thinks you over share and post too frequently. Your partner may see your need to post 10 Instagram stories a day as narcissistic and indicative of someone who may not make a great mate and needs constant attention and stimulation. Others may see someone’s daily posting of self-promotional and personal branding posts as too “me-centric” and may make a judgment on the bandwidth of emotional availability if they are so career focused. In this sense, even though it may be a snap judgment, social media can be a good predictor of larger personality traits based on someone’s usage of social networks. Pay close attention to this and to how their social media habits make you feel.
8) You have a different definition of micro cheating. Don’t underestimate the power of micro cheating on social media. Micro cheating is any minor action that makes your partner feel snubbed on social media channels. If it makes you feel uncomfortable, you should express that to your partner, and your views should be respected. If they can’t respect your views, you may not be digitally compatible. Social Media should not be such a constant strain in the relationship, and if it is- there are more significant issues to address. If your partner feels controlled by your needs of not wanting them to follow members of the opposite sex on social media, it may show a larger incompatibility with social/political issues and values. It can also be indicative of other problems that can emerge in the relationship. For example, if you feel uncomfortable with them connecting with new people on social media they haven’t yet met, you may feel uncomfortable with them hanging out with members of the opposite sex in real life.
9) Your partner thinks “likes” equal support. As soon as you post something, your partner has already liked it. For some people, likes equate to support, but for others, likes have an entirely different value system. Perhaps they want to support you in real life with a hug instead of a like. They may also feel like the partners “like” means much less if you have a group of fans who like everything you do as soon as you post. This could dilute the overall value of their like and could make them feel like just another fan. Your partner may also feel intimidated by your social media harem. If 50 people like your post, do you care more about their likes or your partners 1 measly like? Some people feel intimidated by this and think it’s just too much to compete with.
10) Your partner shares more with their audience than they do with you. In the old days, if you had big news to share, you would share it with your partner first and then call friends and family. Today with social media, your partner can often be last to know if you post the news first for all to find out. Perhaps you have a very busy job and just want to get the news out, but if you are with someone with traditional values, this will feel like a slap in the face. Some people won’t slow down to share things with their partner first before sharing it with the world on social media. If you are uncomfortable learning about your partner’s day on social media rather than through them directly, you may not be a match.
Take social media intel seriously and use the behavioral data to determine if you are a good match with someone. Digital compatibility is just as important as real-world compatibility in today’s dating world. To ignore it is to ignore a new reality of dating. If you don’t like the idea of being with someone who posts a new professional achievement daily online to push their personal brand forward, can you really be a match long-term? Or will you always feel uncomfortable every time you refresh your newsfeed?
If you aren’t digitally compatible, can you really be compatible in the real world? If you find it is becoming a recurrent strain, consider deactivating your accounts so you can remove the problem and focus on the relationship. If you can’t do that, then is the relationship really a priority, or is your personal brand a larger priority?
Instead of ignoring these feelings, we should be facing them head on much earlier on in the dating process. People make the mistake of ignoring their gut instincts or saying it’s “just social media” but social media is a further extension of our lives, and every aspect of our lives should feel fully integrated and comfortable for the people we choose to spend our time with, both online and offline.