It’s all about setting and respecting clear boundaries
We love social media, and why not? It lets us keep in touch with friends and family, find cool DIY projects, follow celebrities we like, keep track of issues that are important to us, and look at an endless supply of cute pictures of cats. However, social media is also responsible for new issues for couples when it comes to setting a boundary between appropriate online interaction and something that violates your partner’s trust.
- Put yourself in your partner’s shoes. If you’re a social media junkie like many are these days, you’re probably commenting, liking and possibly private messaging people. If these posts/messages are with someone of the opposite sex, ask yourself,” How would my partner or spouse feel if they knew I was doing this with someone of the opposite sex?” Also, ask yourself, “How would I feel if I knew they were doing this with someone of the opposite sex?” If you know they wouldn’t like it and you wouldn’t either, then it’s not okay. Be honest with yourself, it could save your relationship.
- Secret keeping is a big no-no. If you are regularly chatting with someone of the opposite sex, it could lead to betrayal, even if it’s something as innocent as catching up with an old high school friend. It might start out that way, but if it continues, friendship can, over time, develop into feelings. If your partner or spouse doesn’t know about this connection, think about why you’re purposely keeping it a secret, as that can be a betrayal in and of itself. If it’s not okay to tell them, it’s probably not okay to do.
- When in doubt, ask! If you’re not sure if what you’re doing on social media might be making your partner uncomfortable, ask them! A clear and open dialogue about what you and your partner are comfortable or not comfortable with is vital. Explore hypothetical situations so you both have a firm grasp on each other’s boundaries.
- Everything in moderation. On that same note, try to limit your social media time in general. Following people across multiple social media platforms, constantly chatting with them or just checking their pictures, posts and becoming completely consumed with what’s going on in their lives is extremely unhealthy. It can also lead to you withdrawing emotionally from your partner in favor of connecting with someone you’re not even involved with.
- Don’t believe everything you see. If you’re at a rocky point in your relationship and happen to see an old flame who looks like they are living an amazing life or someone else in a relationship who always posts about how great their partner is, jealousy can start to set in. Don’t let it, because there’s always more than meets the eye. Remember, people only post the shiny parts of their lives on social media.
Before social media was such a large part of our lives, what counted as crossing the line was much more black and white: a clandestine lunch with your secretary, socializing with a co-worker outside of work and feeling the need to lie about it to your partner, and other such examples. But with the current widespread use of social media, the gray area has become a lot larger, which means it’s vital that you and your partner decide together what counts as “too far” when it comes to interacting with others online. And if you find yourself having difficulty communicating these boundaries, reach out to relationship expert Susan Block, LMFT at 954-675-1936.