With social media gaining more and more importance in our everyday lives, it makes sense that it’s become integral in our relationships as well. We’ve all heard before that everything we post on the internet will stay there forever. This applies to our relationships as well. Go on my Facebook and you’ll probably find cringe worthy posts about my 7th grade boyfriend.
But today, Instagram is at the center of most relationships. It can even be a tool to start, feed, and end a relationship. Sophomore Sports Communication major Jacob Albrecht shared how social media shaped his relationship from beginning to end.
He saw her, immediately thought she was really pretty, and talked to her. It sounds like the perfect plot of a romantic comedy. Except it all happened through Instagram where they met in August 2014. After talking on and off for two years, they officially started dating. Her being from South Carolina and him from Massachusetts, they could only see each other every few months. Thanks to Facetime and Skype, they were able to date for over a year.
Albrecht explained that it was nice to see somebody that you love bragging about you on social media. Shouting your love from the rooftops became shouting your love on Twitter, but according to Albrecht, it feels just as good. “One of the best feelings that I had in this relationship was waking up with my phone blowing up with notifications of tweets from her, the sweetest things,” he says.
However, even though this story might seem like many of the perfect couples showing up in our Instagram feeds daily, behind the facade they might not be as perfect. Albrecht confessed the contrast between their dreamy posts and the reality behind them, “I think that it’s trying to project the best of you as a couple. This is us, we’re happy, even if things may not be going the best in the relationship, we are really happy. Look at our big smiles,” he says.
Social psychologist and Emerson College professor Lindsey Beck studies how people initiate, develop, and maintain close relationships. According to Beck, research shows that people posting relationship selfies on social media seems to be linked to feeling closer and more intimate with your partner and being more satisfied in your relationship. However, to reap the benefits of posting on social media, your social media profile actually needs to match your relationship.
“It seems to benefit people if they think this is an authentic, accurate reflection of their relationship. But if they’re like, ‘Oh things are awful, we just had this big fight but I’m gonna post this adorable selfie of us eating ice cream and laughing,’ that’s not gonna show the same benefits because it’s not authentic in the same way,” Beck says.
While at the beginning of their relationship Albrecht and his girlfriend both posted a lot on social media, he says that by the end she started to post less. While he didn’t think much of it at the time, he later discovered she was cheating on him and was planning on ending their relationship. “I definitely think it [social media] could be a barometer of how your relationship is going,” he says, “Looking back on it, it was a sign.”
Meanwhile, Victoria D’Angelo, a sophomore Communications major, explained how social media allows her and her boyfriend, Jamie, to stay in touch while going to different colleges. Although she never felt like social media was toxic to their relationship, she realized the unexpected importance it gained in it.
D’Angelo says she likes posting pictures of them together to show her followers that their relationship is still going strong. “People won’t know that we’re dating and I do want to keep my fans updated,” she says laughing.
When talking about the new arguments that social media creates, D’Angelo explains how a like on a girl’s picture became significant. “If you’re walking down the street and you see somebody that looks hot or pretty and you check her out, that’s kind of the virtual way of doing so,” she says.
Beck explains how social media, and especially Facebook, creates a perfect storm for all the factors that trigger jealousy.
“People who experience more jealousy when creeping their partner’s profile on Facebook, that’s one way to put it, tend to spend more time on Facebook, which seems to breed more jealousy. And it becomes this kind of vicious cycle,” she says.
Some questions might remain up in the air regarding the impact that social media has on our relationships, but Beck emphasizes how important it is for people to be mindful of what role they want it to play in their relationships. She encourages couples to discuss and negotiate among themselves what rules they want to play by when using social media.
Photo by: Emme Harris