Several years ago, golfer Rory McIlroy broke up with his long-time fiancée after she posted a photo of him sleeping after several weeks of tournaments. While I’m sure it wasn’t the only reason – because relationships are complicated – it seems like her sharing a private moment was a final straw for him. She thought she was being funny, yet he found the social media post disrespectful.
While most of us don’t live lives as public as McIlroy, it did get me to thinking about sharing details of our intimate relationships on social media affects them. Because sharing snippets of our lives via Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram has become the rule more than the exception. It’s a wonderful way to connect with friends and family far and wide. Thanks to the handy App (or Play) store on your smart-phone, it’s a cinch to instantaneously share your breakfast, your kid’s first day of school, and that article on your favorite show that your best friend will love.
Most of my clients explain to me that they have a love-hate relationship with social media. They love the volume of information and connection at their fingertips, but are less comfortable with the perceived loss of privacy. Suddenly, TMI has become TMIS: Too Many Internet Shares.
Are your social media habits hurting your relationship?
Two of the most important components of a monogamous relationship are the trust and connection between partners. In the moment of sharing pieces of our lives, it can seem funny to share a silly photo of our partner or post a Facebook status about him leaving the toilet seat up. Again. However, what this type of sharing on social media actually does is weaken the bonds of love.
That’s because relationships need positive interactions to thrive and stay healthy. In fact, research of more than 4,000 people looked at relationship quality, maintenance and happiness. What they discovered? Everyday acts of love can lead to a happier, healthier and stronger relationship, even more than big gestures like romantic getaways and expensive jewelry.
How can you balance the line between what is private and what is sharable in your relationship? Ask yourself these questions before you post.
- Are you violating privacy? If you’re sharing a vulnerable or intimate moment, ask if the sharing of the photo or status update violates your partner’s privacy. Would you be okay with people having the same information about you?
- Are you acting out of love or anger? It’s tempting to use social media to vent, but acting out of anger only weakens your connection and sometimes, no amount of make-up sex can overcome what you shared during an angry moment.
- Are you compromising security? Burglaries are on the rise thanks to folks posting about vacations on social media. Does your partner have a high-profile job? And when it comes to children, are you allowing strangers to more easily identify and approach your child?
- Are you potentially damaging your partner’s image? It isn’t just celebrities who need to worry about how they are perceived by the public. Social media results are a mere “Google” away from employers and potential employers.
- Always choose strengthening your connection. Ask yourself if sharing something about your partner is going to strengthen or weaken your connection with your partner.
- And last, but not least: create a joint vision. As a part of deciding how you want to create a shared life, if one (or both) of you are active on social media, don’t be afraid of talking about the boundaries for use.
The internet is forever. Even if your social media profile is set to private, your friends and family are seeing what you post. And you could be harming how others see your partner. So, apply the Golden Rule and never hit “send” on anything you wouldn’t want said about you.