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.