Best practices to keep healthy relationships in a digital world.
“We live in a digital world, but we’re fairly analog creatures.” – Omar Ahmed
We live in a digital world. There is no denying or changing that.
I see posts and news articles talking about the death knell of real communication and connection because everyone is attached to their phones. And I laugh. Because the people writing those posts are probably using their phones.
Here’s the thing, social media has changed the way we live and communicate. It’s true! But that doesn’t make it all terrible, as many would think. There can be both positive and negative aspects to communication on social media.
It can be a great place to meet new people, connect on a deeper level, and even find the love of your life.
When I log into social media, I see people talking about their TC (Twitter Crush). I’ve reveled in the way you can find other like-minded people so easily. I mean, we’ve even been able to create some amazing, lifelong bonds through online events right here at Brave Thinking® Institute.
I will never disparage social media. It’s brought us so much. It’s a tool that can be used to connect and enhance your relationships. But it is just a tool. Because it’s opened up new ways to communicate, that also means that there are ways people can misuse it.
We’ve heard of people who get addicted to being online and who spiral into negative self-talk comparing themselves to others. There’s FOMO (fear of missing out, for any of my readers who prefer not to talk in online speak).
All of these things can contribute to anxiety.
So there are some real things to consider when you’re trying to build healthy relationships in a digital world.
Today, that’s just what we’re going to talk about. We’ll dive into how social media affects relationships, best practices to use in your relationships online (and offline), and whether social media is really harmful for relationships (or does it just get a bad reputation?)
I also want to give you some concrete examples of how your relationships can benefit from social media.
More than 70% of US adults use at least one social media platform. That trend keeps growing every year. If we haven’t learned best practices to use social media in a way that promotes healthy relationships, it’s time we start.
Social Media and Relationships
How do you use social media?
That question is at the heart of how it impacts your relationships. Because again, social media is a communication tool.
There are some key differences between social media use and the way you communicate with people in person.
- Social Media Is Public. This is something that you really must keep in mind. Some people like to keep their private lives private. Other people like to “live out loud”.
- You Can’t Always Tell Intention. Sometimes text, messages, and even memes can be misleading or misinterpreted.
For couples, it’s important to be open and honest about your relationship status. You also might have a conversation about dos and don’ts on social media with your significant other.
If they’re a private person, they may not like you posting every nuance of your relationship online. In other cases, posting about your relationship might signify how committed you are to your significant other.
Some studies find that including your partner in things you share on social media indicates a healthier relationship.
Then, too, other people you’re connected with can spark jealousy, especially if you or they are being flirty online. Or if either one of you is less than forthcoming about your relationship status. These things can be trigger points for many relationships.
It can be easy to get a false sense of familiarity online. Many people share only the best, most cultivated images and excerpts from their lives.
On the other hand, it can also be an awesome way to get to know your partner in a very intimate way. When your conversations take center stage, you can talk in greater detail about wants, likes, dreams, and visions.
That’s why so many online friends become so close — the connection is mental and emotional, rather than just physical. Social media and online relationships can be a great way to get to know someone.
If you’re looking for icebreakers to make online or real world connections more fun, check out my free eBook, 100 Great Questions to Make Any Date More Interesting and Fun.
Is Social Media Bad for Relationships?
In short, no. Social media itself is not bad for relationships. The way that you use social media is the deciding factor on whether the platforms you frequent have a negative or positive impact on your relationships.
There are many positive benefits of using social media that we’ll cover in greater detail a little further in the post.
Using the same healthy relationship techniques you’d use in person is helpful on social media. Things like making sure your conflict resolution strategies are full of love and care and using the right love language to communicate with your partner can be useful whether you’re in person or online.
Social media is a unique way to socialize, so you do have to be aware of some of the unhealthy behaviors that are prevalent online. Just like learning healthy communication in general, it takes commitment and noticing what you’re noticing to stay positive online, too.
Here are some of the most common negative behaviors in social media use for couples:
- Comparing Yourself to Others
- Passive Aggressive Posting
- Misinterpretation and Miscommunication
- Toxic Social Media Behaviors That Lead to Doubt and Hurt Feelings
- Deception in Use (Catfishing and Cheating and Scamming, oh my!)
Just like the real world, you must take responsibility for the way you treat people online.
At the same time, there are some things that you’ll hear plenty of horror stories about… for good reason… Social media makes it easy to cultivate a persona that isn’t real. I’d be remiss if I didn’t cover some of these here.
Comparing Yourself to Others
There are plenty of resources out there about teens (and adults) having increased issues with anxiety, depression, and even suicide. Many of those studies correlate excessive social media use to these health issues. The biggest challenge: we tend to negatively compare ourselves to others.
If you stopped for a second and looked at your own social media feed, you’d probably see that the images you post are ones you choose. The most flattering lighting, the most exciting events, the best examples of your life.
Everyone’s reality is less exciting and typically vastly different than their highlight reel. But that’s critical to keep in mind when you’re being hard on yourself.
When you fixate on what others post, you might worry that your relationship isn’t as loving as ones you see posted. You might worry about your looks or lifestyle or any number of things, and it can have a detrimental impact on your self confidence.
If you find yourself falling into a trap of comparing yourself to others online, it’s a good idea to limit your social media use for a bit. You can look for resources for positive reinforcement, healthy positive affirmations, ways to practice self-love, or just things you enjoy that are deeper and more meaningful for you.
Surround yourself with people who support you, both online and offline. Those true friends and loved ones will offer a better sounding board to help you stay in a more optimistic mindset.
Passive Aggressive Posting
Passive-aggressive posting is common and it’s not pretty. This is when you (or someone you love) posts things online meant to send a message, but without actually saying that thing directly.
This can feel embarrassing and irritating.
Say you’re having a disagreement with your significant other about texting or calling when they say they will. For example, they’ve forgotten to call you when they said they would, and you’re upset about it.
You haven’t settled the disagreement yet. Then you log into your Facebook or Instagram account and post an ecard that says something like, “If someone truly loves you, they would be there for you when you need them.
”You haven’t settled the disagreement yet. Seeing that post publicly can be upsetting… and let’s be honest, even manipulative.
You’re allowed to voice your concern when your man doesn’t do what he says he will. Posting that in public instead of talking to him directly can feel like an unfair attack.
This scenario can spiral out of control if other mutual friends get on the post and say unkind things. Whether prompted or not, your friends and followers can “pile on” and make the situation more difficult to fix.
What do you do if you’ve already posted something passive aggressively?
If, after a little time to think and calm down, you realize what you posted wasn’t nice… that it’s unfair and that you would feel bad in his shoes, it’s up to you to remedy the situation.
The first step might be to take it down. Then reach out to him to offer a sincere apology. You’re allowed to feel how you feel but you should also own up for your mistakes when you catch them. And try to make them right.
Misinterpretation and Miscommunication
In that scenario above, what happens if you post the meme or quote but you didn’t mean it passive aggressively? You saw the e-card, and it spoke to you at the moment. You didn’t realize how your man would read it…
This can happen easily. After it’s already out there, it can be hard for him to understand you don’t mean it the way it looks. This can also happen with texts and comments on posts. Sometimes what you write and post online looks like it has subtext you don’t intend.
Remember that this goes both ways. In a trusting relationship, you both must give each other the benefit of the doubt unless there are reasons not to.
Toxic Social Media Behaviors That Lead to Doubt and Hurt Feelings
Social media has its share of toxic behaviors, just like real world communication.
There are ways of communicating that we perceive as hurtful or intentional. Things like being left on read… so your man reads your latest message but doesn’t respond for a while, even though you can see him posting and commenting on his page.
Other things that can cause doubt and hurt feelings include seeing your significant other talking to other people online but leaving you out of the conversation, not being “public” about your relationship, or just generally not communicating with you in a way that honors you.
Some of these behaviors can be more prevalent online. They are never acceptable if truly done with the intention to be hurtful. However, you must consider whether or not your man knows how you feel about these things.
Often things that seem toxic or harmful are really a failure to communicate your needs effectively. It’s important to make sure that your man clearly understands what you desire and how you expect to be treated online.
Deception in Use (Catfishing and Cheating and Scamming, oh my!)
Catfishing, cheating, and scamming… that’s a far sight scarier than “lions and tigers and bears, oh my”.
We’ve seen shows like MTV’s Catfished and the recent Netflix documentary about the Tinder Swindler. There are warnings about deception online for a reason. It does happen.
You can meet people online and find an amazing spark, but it’s essential that you get to know someone well before you completely trust them.
What about in an already existing relationship?
Well, there have been a lot of cases of people cheating online. Even if it’s not physical, emotional cheating is just as damaging to the relationship. My rule of thumb is that I need to be able to openly tell my wife about any interaction I have.
I think if you’re hiding anything, it’s a good warning sign that you’re already doing something wrong.
I remember when Irene and I were dating. I was busy doing something and my phone notification went off.
“Hey, babe, can you check who that is?” I said.
Irene just stopped and looked at me, her eyes wide. And I didn’t really understand why she looked so shocked, so I repeated myself.
“Do you think you can check who that is?”
“You want me to check YOUR phone?” she asked.
“Sure. Yeah, if you could.”
And she started smiling and just nodded her head and checked the message for me. But it dawned on me that there’s a level of trust there. She didn’t expect me to trust her with my phone. At least not at that point.
Here’s the thing, my wife can check my phone any time. This is not to say that you don’t deserve privacy or that your partner gets to control anything.
But if your man doesn’t have anything to hide, they won’t mind that sort of thing. They won’t mind you seeing who they talk to and how they talk to them.
How Your Relationships Can Benefit from Social Media
We’ve talked about common negative ways to use social media. The truth is that social media can also benefit your relationships in so many ways.
I’m just going to give you a few here. But if you’re creative and into social media, the sky’s the limit on how you can use this tool to delight and surprise your significant other. To talk to him in the love language that makes him happy.
Five great ways social media can benefit your love life:
- Can Find Relationships/Connect With People
- Can Celebrate Life Events/Document Milestones
- Can Follow Relationship Experts
- Gives You Ways to Interact With Your Partner When You Can’t Be Together
- Makes It Easy to Get to Know Authentic People on a Deeper Level
1 — Can Find Relationships/Connect With People
Here’s some good news about social media, it’s a really popular way to meet your ideal match. That’s true, actually. According to a lot of the most recent studies, a majority of couples meet online. This includes social media and dating apps.
The cool thing about this is that you have a chance to really get to know someone before you meet them in person. You can chat on posts, and move it to direct messaging. You can video chat and engage with each other publicly.
Social media has been part of our everyday lives for many years now.
Think about some of the people you talk to online. You’ll find that many of them know you better than some people who see you all the time.
That’s because we’re exchanging ideas. We’re talking on a deep level. We’re able to cultivate our feeds for just what we’re interested in.
And that means that the people you meet online already share many of your interests. You can make some wonderful connections online. And one of those might just be the love of your life.
2 — Can Celebrate Life Events/Document Milestones
When you’re in love, you want to shout it to the rooftops, or jump over couches (if you’re Tom Cruise).
Social media is a fantastic way for you to share your bliss with your friends and family. You can document your cute couple moments together. Look back on memories from previous events and outings, and just remember things that made you smile.
Social media can give you a visual way to celebrate your life together. You can capture the funny, silly, quiet, and amazing moments and use your own bits of creativity to make them personal to you.
3 — Can Follow Relationship Experts
Dating experts have a wealth of information and fantastic advice to help you build the healthy communication that benefits a beautiful relationship. These experts offer fantastic advice whether you’re in a relationship or not.
Social media has you covered. There are some amazing relationship experts you can follow online. Watch videos, follow their channels, and learn more about the ways to attract the love you deserve.
Love isn’t a destination. It’s a journey. Every step can bring you excitement and new experiences. If you’re not in a relationship today, you might work on manifesting that love you desire, or you might start with cultivating the self-love that will prepare you for the healthy relationship of your dreams.
You can even find a relationship coach through social media. One on one coaching can be an amazing way to get to know yourself better, learn loving ways to treat yourself, and learn how to attract the love you really want.
If you’re ready to increase your confidence and attract the great relationship you’ve been dreaming of, Manifest Your Man may be the perfect program for you.
Check out the link and apply for a free strategy session today.
4 — Gives You Ways to Interact With Your Partner When You Can’t Be Together
In today’s busy world, you might not always get to be with your man. Maybe he works long hours or you travel for work. Maybe you’re dating a single dad with kids. Or you’re a single mom and you need to balance your family with your dating life.
Social media has also been a huge blessing for long distance relationships. You can use all of the tools to help keep you as connected as possible to your loved ones, even across many miles.
Whatever the reason, social media has made it easier than ever to stay connected when you can’t be in the same room. I’ve heard from so many people who were separated from their significant other for various reasons.
Social media gives you an easy way to stay in each other’s everyday lives. You can share posts, chat privately, or even video chat. The only limit is your own imagination.
5 — Makes It Easy to Get to Know People on a Deeper Level
There’s something wonderful to be said for getting to know people deeply before you start a relationship. They say the most amazing relationships start as friendships.
There’s no better feeling than being married to your best friend. To have that one ride or die partner who you know will always be there for you.
Social media gives you ways to get to know each other on that deeper level. Over time, you’ll see what your man shares, and they’ll get to know what you like.
You’ll be able to get to know each other’s interests, and even see how outside friendships and communications flow.
Social media isn’t exactly real life. But when your partner is honest and genuine, you’ll get a real feel for who they are by the things they share publicly and with you privately.
Build Lasting Relationships in the Digital Age of Social Media
In conclusion, don’t believe the hype. Social media isn’t solely negative. There are negative ways it can be used, but that can be said of any form of communication. We must strive to use healthy communication techniques in order to cultivate the best relationships and bring the love we want into our lives.
In today’s post, we’ve talked about the impact of social media on relationships. You’ve learned some common negative behaviors to look out for in using social media, and you’ve learned five fantastic ways to use online platforms to build healthy relationships.
To help you break the ice with that new man you just met online (or off), feel free to download my free eBook, 100 Great Questions to Make Any Date Interesting and Fun! It’s my gift to you.
If you’re ready to dive in deep and cultivate the healthy, strong relationship you’ve been looking for, check out Cracking the Mancode™. This program will not only help you decipher what men really think, but it gives you a proven method to communicate that will help you create those amazing bonds both online and offline.
Check out the program if you’re ready to welcome in the love you’ve always wanted.
Think Bravely and Act Boldly!