I know, you’re doing a double take at the post title and asking yourself… is she serious? Sadly, yes. You just can’t ignore the elephant in the relationship room anymore.
Social media has become such a pervasive part of daily life, it’s almost like we’re all in threesomes. You, me and our friends and family and coworkers and possibly somestrangers. If you don’t pay attention to how you both feel about our friends and family and coworkers and possibly some strangers, it might come back to bite you in the form of an unexpected break-up, too many people knowing your intimate relationship details or a fixated stalker or three. So how do you talk about the issue? The down and dirty 3:
- Make a plan.
- Watch each others back.
- If you have a problem, take it to the couch, not your Facebook wall.
Make a plan.
This is where you sit down (over a large glass of vino) and figure out your plan for handling how you both “do” social media.
- How much of “us” do you want to make public?
- Do you want to share pictures with ourfriendsandfamilyandcoworkersandpossiblysomestrangers?
- Or perhaps gross out your entire friend circle with updates of your love?
- Do you both want to keep it personal and private?
- How do you feel about being connected to “exes?”
- Privacy settings that keep you both comfortable.
If you’re two different types of social media users — it may take some negotiating. Try to come from a place of figuring out where can you meet in the middle and still feel like you’re both getting what you want rather than one person is wrong and the other person is right in how they want to do things.
An example of this? Some people heavily use Facebook for pictures, updates and links to the funny and interesting. Others are lurkers who like to LOOK at everyone’s updates, pictures, etc. but not actively participate. So how would you find a middle ground if your girlfriend felt like she was the only one “out there” in talking about your love and posting pictures and you were the lurking type? Would you be willing to post now and again on her wall? Or perhaps you need to let her know that you resent her making so much of your relationship “public” knowledge.
Facebook, Linked In, MySpace, Twitter, etc… social media has been hitting the news a lot lately about the role it plays in breaking up relationships. You may feel completely stupid bringing it up, but it’s worth it if you both feel heard, understood and safe with what and how you each do life in the public eye.
Consider Your Audience
Yep, we are all micro-publishers in this day and age. So, how much are you taking your audience into consideration? I’ll admit, it would just be odd to see a bunch of lovey-dovey stuff on a platform like Linked In, but I think most of us have rolled our eyes a time or two at a particularly affectionate Facebook couple. When you are talking about social media, consider that you might both use it for different reasons.
For example, my company is VERY Facebook friendly, while my boyfriend has very few co-workers on his friends list. If we were the mush and gush types, I would have to take extra privacy measures into consideration before making my wall public. Same with pictures. There would need to be some sort of filter to preserve my professional reputation.
Since we aren’t the public mush types and my pictures are all pretty PG, I haven’t had to worry about it. But you might. So talk about it with your significant other and make sure you aren’t getting them into trouble with your references to your wild night out on the town or crazy pictures slamming shots in Cancun when you were supposed to be “out sick” on a Friday. Watch each others back.
Keep a United Front
Social media is just not the place to air your dirty laundry. Mad at him and his dirty sock tossing habit? Keep it to yourself. Furious that she posted a pic with her hot ex in one of her photo albums? Talk about it privately. You think he is a seriously bad kisser? Don’t post it!
Please refrain from using a social media platform to mark your territory, air your grievances or settle private disputes. If you have a problem, take it to the couch not your Facebook wall.
On that note — if you’re in a bi-polar relationship (up and down and together and apart,) I would recommend not posting your relationship status at all. “It’s complicated” never, ever sends a positive message about your life to your “friends.” And if your relationship status is showing up in your friend’s news streams every week/month… well, that’s not doing anything for your credibility. Do yourself a solid and wait for at least 3 months of separate or together before re-posting your relationship status.
You’ve got an overly flirtatious friend? He has a pal that likes to post off-color jokes at your expense? You’ve got an…ummm… well… how to put this… stalker-ish ex who tracks down anyone you might have a romantic connection with and launches their own version of “he done me so wrong, it seemed so right” in an effort to scare the new person away and re-establish that no one will ever love you the way they love you. Talk about the people who might/will be/are potential problems and discuss how to handle it. My first suggestion would be to have a talk with the person BEFORE they become a problem in your relationship but sometimes that can be a challenge. So, if it’s Uncle Joe, you may have to just ask your mate for patience and understanding but if it’s an ex or someone trying to actively interfere in your relationship, I’d seriously suggest de-friending the problem. It’s just not worth it.