Can social media ruin relationships? The answer is yes, it can. Social Media is actually a place for everyone to portray an image of themselves that they’re really not. And sometimes we fall in love with the online persona we see, but that may not be the reality. The conflict begins when we face the reality, and that’s how social media destroy your relationship before it even begins.
I can’t tell you how many times I have to tell my clients that social media can kill a relationship before it even starts.
Why? I believe that, at its most basic level, social media can warp our perceptions of reality. I do believe that much of what is put out there, is put out there authentically but that what we see doesn’t necessarily present the real picture of a person or a thing. And I believe that it is this particular element of social media that can kill a relationship before it even starts.
I so often see people judging their relationship, whether it is brand new or not even in existence yet, by what they see on social media. As a result, romantic relationships, the relationships that we all seek, are stopped before they can even start.
Awareness around this is the key to not letting social media destroy your relationship before it even starts.
How Social Media Ruin Relationships?
I have a client who is struggling with being ghosted by a guy she was seeing for a while. To understand why it happened, and how she should react to it, she turned to TikTok. When she finally talked to me about it, she kept on saying ‘TikTok says,’ like the words that she heard on the app were the words of experts, that the gospel of TikTok is how she should process what has happened to her.
Let me be clear – I do believe that hearing stories about how others get through things is an excellent way to learn. I do that all the time with my blogs. But I feel like my client was taking the words that she was hearing from TikTok and completely internalizing them. She was using the words of people she doesn’t know, and who don’t know her, to process the potential end of her relationship.
Furthermore, what many people put on social media is not their complete picture. Of course, we all seek to tell our story but people curate what they put on social media. We don’t always tell our whole story because we know that we will be judged if we do. And, as a result, we are often manipulated, sometimes inadvertently, to believe something that isn’t the complete picture.
So, I encourage you to pause for a minute before you take someone’s TikTok advice as to the gospel truth. Doing so might help you process what you are going through, your personal experience, in a way that will help, and not harm, you and your relationship.
2. Inaccurate perceptions.
I have another client who met a guy online. They hadn’t yet met but the conversations were lovely. She was looking forward to meeting him UNTIL she checked out his Instagram account. What did she see? That he was friends with lots of girls. And for her, that was a HUGE red flag!
I asked her why. She said that it was because she believed that, if he was friends with so many women, she would always worry about him cheating on her. So, before she had even met him, she defined him as someone who couldn’t be friends with women because he might cheat on her.
That doesn’t sound like a recipe for a healthy relationship, does it?
My question to her was this – what if you met this man at a bar and had a lovely conversation. You then dated him for a while and got to know him, and he got to know you. As you got to know him, you learned that he and his sister had decided that they would be friends with each other’s friends on social media. It made them feel more connected, for many reasons. As a result, he was friends with many women on social media because of his sister, not because he was a womanizer.
If this happened, once you knew who he was as a person, would you judge him and walk away, assuming that he would someday cheat on you? No, probably not.
My point is that making an assumption or a judgment about someone based on their social media is an assumption or a judgment not based on any kind of knowledge about the reality of the situation. Of course, it could be that he really is a womanizer but you just don’t know until you investigate. And if you don’t investigate, that relationship could be over before it starts either because you are insecure from the beginning or because you have prejudged them to be someone they are not.
So, pay attention to assumptions that you make about someone’s social media profile. Remember, they aren’t necessarily based on any kind of reality!
3. False expectations.
So, tell me the truth. Does what you post on social media totally reflect who you are as a person? Do you post pictures after a night out drinking or when your skin is acting up or after a fight with your sister?
Or do you post the night of, when you are all dressed up and having fun? If you do have to post when your skin acts up, do you use a filter? And I am sure you never post when you are really angry at your sibling.
So, knowing that what you post about yourself isn’t always an accurate reflection of who you are in the world, why would you assume that other people’s posts are an accurate reflection of who they are?
I have a client who had been chatting with a guy she met online. In his profile, he posted pictures of himself going out, of him playing softball, him climbing mountains on Sundays. As a result, she swiped right because she liked that he was so active.
And they met and she got to know him and she really liked everything about him – except that he wasn’t very active. A day on the couch was just as appealing to him as a day on a hike. And that she wasn’t happy about. She felt like she had been promised someone who didn’t really exist.
When we get to know someone through social media, instead of IRL (in real life), we learn about them posting about their best selves, not the full picture. Of course, we would post a picture of ourselves on the top of a mountain instead of on the couch because we want to be appealing. But that doesn’t necessarily mean that we spend more time on top of mountains than on the couch – we just present ourselves that way.
So, be careful not to assume that the person you see on social media is who they are. They only way to truly get to know someone is by interacting with them. If you assume you know someone because of their profile, you just might be setting yourself up for disappointment.
4. Options, options, options.
This is the number one complaint that I hear from people about social media, especially from women – because of social media, people are presented with too many options.
Much like when you go into Dunkin’ Donuts and are trying to choose a donut but you just don’t know which one to pick because you are worried that you might pick the wrong one, so does social media make us question our choices – always wondering if there might be someone out there who is better for us.
I can’t tell you how many guys I have chatted with on social media who, in the middle of a conversation, just suddenly disappeared. I never know what truly happened but I am guessing that someone shinier came along, someone they wanted to talk to instead of me. And that felt pretty shitty every time.
But, over time, I came to accept that it wasn’t about me. It was about the wide variety of options out there, options that, because of social media, we are exposed to every day. Not only are there jillions of people on dating sites, but we are also bombarded with images of attractive people all day long on our phones.
As a result, we are often left questioning if the grass might be greener elsewhere – like with that guy who is on top of a mountain instead of the one sitting next to you on the couch.
I believe that social media can kill a relationship before it even starts because of the vast array of options that are out there, options that are presented to social media users every minute of every day.
Picture this. You are at a bar with your friends and, instead of keeping your head up and interacting, you are on your phone. Or that you are sitting at home with your new boyfriend, looking at your social media while you are watching TV. Neither one of these scenarios is any good for a relationship, or the possibility of a relationship, because of the disconnect that social media creates.
I can’t tell you how many guys I know don’t approach women because they are on their phones. Approaching someone you don’t know is hard enough but interrupting someone while they are on their phone is almost impossible. You just don’t know what you are interrupting.
As a result, while people really want to meet people IRL, they don’t because they are looking at their phones instead of looking up, open to seeing what is right there in front of them.
In my other scenario, the couple who are sitting on the couch together while one watches TV and one is on social media, are setting themselves up for disappointment because, while they are sitting next to each other, they are not sharing the experience. They are parallel but not connected.
Being parallel but not connected doesn’t seem like it’s a big deal but, over time, it can wear away at the fabric of a relationship. I can’t tell you how many times my ex and I fought over him picking up his phone during commercials instead of talking to me. It was definitely one of the things that ultimately broke us up.
So, pay attention to how your phone and social media disconnect you from the people in front of you. It just might be that that disconnect is why you can’t find love. I know that you don’t want to believe that social media can kill a relationship before it even starts but it can.
As I write this, I am wondering if someone was told that, to find the love of their life, they would have to give up social media, if they would end up choosing love. I would hope so but I am just not sure. That is how much social media is part of the fabric of our lives.
If you want to find love, pay attention to how social media affects your journey and any relationship that you might find. Make sure that you don’t make assumptions, that you don’t judge a book by its cover, that you don’t take what you see as gospel truth, and that you keep your head up more than you do down.
If you can be aware of the ways that social media can kill a relationship before it even starts then you will have the opportunity to choose the effect that it can have on you and your search for love.
Because your person is out there. I promise!
Written By: Mitzi Bockmann
Originally Appeared On: Let Your Dreams Begin