One of the reasons why we like social media is that we get a behind-the-scenes look into someone’s life. But sharing about our relationships on social media can be messy.
When it comes to relationships, navigating this dance of what to post and what not to post leaves people in three camps: only post the good; only post the raw, real stuff; and stay far, far away from posting anything at all.
If you choose to share about your relationship on social media, it’s important to do so in a way that honors your relationship and your partner. Here are a few considerations to guide you along the way.
Talk to Your Partner
Talk to your partner about their comfort level with sharing their private life on social media and how they prefer to talk about their own life in their digital circles. Ask them whether they like taking selfies, when and if they want to share about your relationship online, and whether they like to post on social media in general. Share your preferences, as well, so your partner knows what to expect. There is no shame in being honest about your habits! Having this conversation early on in a relationship can be good practice in communicating vulnerably so that you and your partner are on the same page - or can find a happy middle.
Think Before You Post
Posting on social media can be reactionary: a reaction of joy after something good or raw emotion in the wake of pain. Considering giving yourself a few minutes to think through these questions before you post:
Why am I posting this?
Who will be helped by this post?
Who will be hurt by this post?
Should I work something out with my partner before posting this?
What value does this post bring to myself or others?
Self-Awareness and Thoughtful Posting
In thinking about these questions, you can think about the spiritual principles of consolation and desolation. Knowing where we are emotionally, spiritually, and psychologically helps us make decisions wisely.
Before posting something on social media - especially about your relationship - it can be beneficial to check in with yourself and see if you’re acting out of consolation or desolation. This will give you more control over what you say so that it better represents who you are and who you hope to be as a partner.
Courtesy of Vinita Hampton Wright, here’s a brief description of desolation and consolation to help you know which one you might be experiencing:
- Turns us in on ourselves
- Drives us down the spiral ever deeper into our own negative feelings
- Cuts us off from community
- Makes us want to give up on the things that used to be important to us
- Drains us of energy
- Directs our focus outside and beyond ourselves
- Lifts our hearts so that we can see the joys and sorrows of other people
- Bonds us more closely to our human community
- Generates new inspiration and ideas
- Releases new energy in us
Relationships are complicated, and it’s difficult to give others an honest look at what’s really going on. When we only highlight the good, it can contribute to an inauthentic vision of life as a highlight reel of fun times. It’s important to think about what you’re saying, why it’s special, and why you think everyone in your circles should know about it – especially if it involves your relationship.
Sharing vulnerably about hard things on social media can lead to solidarity and change. It can make someone feel less alone. It can provide hope or inspiration. At the same time, “[o]ur Facebook feed or Instagram cannot be a place where we openly discuss and digest the problems in our relationship,” Carrie Taylor - a wife, mother, and writer - told me in an interview. “It's violating and unfair to our partner. But sharing wisdom learned from hard-won battles, or perhaps unsalvageable losses, is extremely helpful. It's a vulnerability that doesn't lay blame.”
If we choose to share about our relationships on social media, doing so with intentionality and authenticity will better honor our partners, ourselves, and the society we’re creating through our social media representation.