We all know Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr and Vine are way more fun when you can post photos and videos of that special someone you enjoying spending time with. However, social media can be dangerous to any relationship if used incorrectly! Be sure to avoid making mistakes that can throw your relationship into risky waters.
Mistake #1: Over-Sharing About Your Relationship
If you’re not aware how your partner feels about PODA (Public Online Displays of Affection), you should check—it’s important to respect those boundaries. Ramani Durvasula, a licensed clinical psychologist, reminds us that posting about your relationship online without your partner’s consent is inconsiderate.
She notes that you need to make sure your partner is on board with online mushiness; otherwise, it violates a boundary. But even if your guy is okay with you posting endless photos and statuses about him, that doesn’t necessarily mean you should. “Part of the joy of a relationship is the secret world you inhabit,” Durvasula says. “So keep some of it secret.”
Don’t worry, though; if he’s upset that you posted about the pointy ear he’s embarrassed of or the amount of beans he had at dinner the other night, you can still fix it. “Own up to your mistakes,” Durvasula says. “Sit with him and figure out what the two of you consider to be ‘appropriate conduct’ in the electronic space.”
Mistake #2: Posting Sexy Photos
Posting revealing pictures of yourself, like photos of you posing suggestively in a tiny bikini or close-ups of you in your extra-low-cut shirt, on any form of social media will almost surely spark jealousy from your guy. Mark Sharp, a clinical psychologist at The Aiki Relationship Institute, says that “putting [these photos] on social media… is likely to trigger stuff for some guys.”
Dylan*, a sophomore at Northwestern University, agrees. “I obviously don’t have a problem you looking sexy, it’s the fact that you’re sharing it with the entire online world and it seems like you just want attention,” he says.
Lesli Doares, a marriage counselor, says “a good rule of thumb when dealing with social media is that if you wouldn’t do it/say it with your partner right there, you shouldn’t share it online.” So unless your partner is okay with you posting all those sultry shots, try to keep your photos appropriate.
Mistake #3: Actively Keeping in Touch With Your Ex
While you and your ex may have managed to stay friends, you shouldn’t be actively interacting with him through social media by liking all his statuses and posting cutesy comments on his photos. Exes are a touchy subject in any relationship, and cyber-flaunting the fact that you’re friends with someone you used to date isn’t ever a good idea.
Sharp says that many people can develop reasonable friendships with exes, and those should be supported. However, if you’re interacting with your ex online to provoke jealousy or garner attention from your current boyfriend, that’s another story entirely. “You’re probably playing around with stuff that’s a little bit dangerous,” he says.
Mistake #4: Monitoring His Profile
Of course we’ve flipped back through his profile pictures and we check out his wall from time, but no one likes a mega creeper. So yeah, sometimes we spend time decoding his texts or we wonder what he meant by that cryptic status, but it’s definitely a turn-off to guys when they feel like you’re watching and obsessing about their every move.
If something is bothering you about what your guy has been doing online, talk to him about it. Durvasula says it’s important to communicate with your partner instead of making assumptions or getting possessive. “No need to call him out on every like,” she says.
Mistake #5: Subtweeting (and Other Petty Posts!)
Getting called out for something sucks, but getting called out for something in a public, online space is way worse. Matthew, a junior at UC Berkeley, hates the immaturity of subtweets. “Subtweets are the worst,” he says.
Posting about how you “hate getting canceled on at the last minute, ugh” is not a good way of handling problems in your relationship, and it makes you seem petty. Instead of subtweeting, Matthew says, “talk to [me] instead.”
Most guys agree that you should steer clear from posting vague or passive-aggressive statuses. Jacob, a sophomore at the University of Michigan, says that if something is seriously distressing his girlfriend, he wants to hear about it before it goes on Facebook. “If I see some vague, frustrated status about her life, I’m going to assume it’s [because of] me,” he says.
Make sure you don’t let social media negatively affect your relationship! Express appreciation for your partner, communicate with each other, maintain boundaries between your real life and your cyber life and don’t share too much—you’ll both be much happier. Keeping your relationship healthy online doesn’t take a lot of effort, and in the long run, it’ll make the relationship that much more likely to last.
*Names have been changed.