It could be easy to say that the relative newness of social media and dating apps is to blame when they negatively impact someone’s relationships or sex life. Even though these things were once novel, social media and dating are just part of our everyday life now.
Our romantic/sexual culture just doesn’t normalize certain conversations that partners need to have. These conversations can do a lot to nurture healthy relationships.
It’s not so much that romantic and sexual partners need to have a “social media talk.” Rather, it would be wise to include social media in the “healthy boundaries talk.” Navigating social media use is part of a larger process of communicating with your partner(s) about boundaries, expectations, insecurity, and privacy.
Setting Healthy Boundaries
No relationship can be healthy without boundaries. In your process of understanding what boundaries you need and communicating them to partners, make sure to consider how social media plays into that.
Decide what is and isn’t okay to share… Talk about how much of your life, (or what kind of details), you feel comfortable sharing or having your partner share about you.
Consider how you feel about tagged photos, posts that reveal your location, and who in your partner’s life will see posts about you. What kind of life moments or activities do you want to share and what kind do you want to keep private?
You’re Entitled to Privacy
Remember that both you and your partner are entitled to privacy.
The idea that the only way to prove your faithfulness and honesty to your partner is to give them unfettered access to your digital life has become very normalized. For some, there is a kind of stigma around keeping your passwords private from a partner. This often goes along with an expectation that your partner should be able to comb through your phone or social media accounts on demand.
These attitudes are simply not healthy and could be toxic. At best, they reveal serious insecurity and trust issues in a relationship. At worst, they escalate to abusive behavior in which one partner exerts control over the other person’s communication.
Having healthy boundaries means that you and your partner are both free to communicate with whomever you want, whenever you want, however you want.
It means you are entitled to keep information and conversations private from a partner when that feels right or necessary to you.
Final Thoughts on Social Media and Dating
Talk about how you want to approach feelings of insecurity together. Too often, we ignore jealously and insecurity until they escalate. Then we end up acting in reactionary and irrational ways. When these feelings intersect with social media use, we often end up snooping. We might play detective in our partner’s accounts, phone, or emails, searching for evidence to confirm or disprove our fearful suspicions. Instead of talking with our partner about what is bothering us, we breach their privacy and trust instead.
Acknowledging that these feelings will probably come up and talking about it early in the relationship gives you and your partner the chance to set expectations for how to deal with them.
You can create space in the relationship to share insecurities and jealousies in an honest and healthy way, which just FEELS GOOD to everyone in the end, doesn’t it? Seems like most of us can agree that the more emotionally secure we feel with partner(s), the better our shared experiences (even and especially sex!) can be in the long term. This kind of dialogue can lead to opened opportunities with the kinds of relationship structures we want and that works best for us individually. (That might even include new sexy possibilities for how you negotiate multiple sexual relationships, if that appeals to you. Huzzah to new sexy possibilities!)
Stay tuned for more on social media, communication, and boundaries in terms of monogamy or polyamory in an upcoming blog post! You can always find more relationship tips in the Relationship Advice section of the Vibrant blog, too.