There’s a certain kind of post on social media that makes me want to roll my eyes, gag, and puke all at the same time. It’s not my relatives’ political opinions (please, I block those already), and it’s not even endless vacation pics to dreamy destinations that my family can’t afford. It’s the relentless onslaught of smoochy-faced, “I’m the luckiest person in the whole world to be married to the love of my life/best friend/spouse forever/hottest, most awesome and amazing person alive.”
Harsh, I know, but whenever I see these kinds of posts I can’t help but wonder, WHY? Like, why do people need to declare undying love and adoration over and over to a vast audience, many of whom they either see every day (and can presumably absorb all the love IRL), or hardly ever see at all (in which case, who cares)?
My cynical side assumes there must be a dark underbelly to the relationship that prompts this special vomitous brand of PDA. Case in point: Two people I know waxed poetic at least once a week on Facebook (“I’m so in love with this beautiful and creative person!”) until the day they announced—via Facebook—that they were getting a divorce. So, there’s that.
Look, I’m no idiot. I realize that social media presences are crafted to present certain, shall we say, angles. Users can post the appealing, filtered things that show only what they want to show. Even when people use social as a place to be real about their struggles, to me, it often seems like there’s still a certain personal or professional branding to the whole enterprise. So, yes, I understand that careful curation happens, but I still feel uneasy with it when it applies to intimate relationships. I mean, by definition, personal relationships are personal. Right?
Not anymore, though. We live in a world—for better or worse—that judges us to varying degrees based on what we say about ourselves on the internet. So then why don’t I just craft my own relationship brand? I could post weekend pics — “handy hubby fixing the drainpipe” or “look who brought me breakfast in bed?” — followed by a selfie from date night. But I don’t.
Maybe it’s because my husband and I met and married right before social media was such a big thing, so we don’t think to share everything. We never had the chance to share ten thousand engagement photos, day-after-the-wedding pics, or first year anniversary kiss-fests in such a public way. And over the years we somehow didn’t make the leap from “our relationship is mostly about what goes on between us” to “our relationship is something that should be seen and celebrated regularly by everyone we know.” In fact, we’ve made big declarations of love on social media a total of… zero times. Okay, so there was that one Father’s Day when I posted a pic of my husband and kids at a baseball game with the mild caption, “Thanks, baby, for being such a wonderful husband and father.” But that’s it.
Another reason we don’t have a public relationship brand is that my husband ditched Facebook a couple years ago and hasn’t looked back. Today, if I posted a kissy-faced pic of us, I could tag… air? No one? Myself? But the truth is that even when he was on social media every day, he stuck to politics, baseball, and humor content, not drooly-in-love proclamations from our latest trip to the Dominican Republic, which probably would have prompted a million likes and comments. But IRL our relationship is actually good. We hold hands in public and kiss on the lips. We still have sex and have lots to talk about. We parent well together and there’s plenty of love in our household—no doubt in my mind about any of that. Do we need a more public affirmation?
If I’m being 100% honest, I’m uneasy when my social feeds are clogged with pics of smoochy, happy-looking couples and I have none to match. If you looked at what I post, it’s mostly articles about things I find interesting (like the Pacific garbage patch clean-up), inspiring (“woman feeds the homeless out of her kitchen on weekends”), or adorable (dogs making friends with just about anyone). I share some pics of my kids and their cardboard-and-duct-tape inventions or of our own handsome pup, but generally say little about my husband or our relationship. In fact, looking at my socials, you’d hardly even know I’m married. But I am married, and I love my husband, so, should we hop on the lovey-dovey social media bandwagon?
I admit that even though I love to hate other couples’ social media demonstrativeness, I might actually feel flattered and relieved if my husband were to get back on Facebook or Instagram and post a couple of pictures of us. We’d be barefoot at sunset on the beach and the caption would read something like, “another perfect day with my soul mate, the hottest, most awesome and amazing woman alive.” These would need to be quality pictures, of course—no weird angles or unexpected swimsuit shots. (I get the irony here, believe me.)
Supposing he did do that, I might wonder if he’d just been diagnosed with something terrible. But as long as he wasn’t dying, I’d like it. Not every day or every week. Just once in a while, you know, to remind everyone out there that we still dig each other.
What we do in private means a lot more to me than what our relationship looks like from the outside, but maybe it does matter a little bit what everyone else thinks, too. Perhaps there’s a middle ground somewhere between endless smoochy pics coupled with declarative captions and… nothing.
What’s the famous saying? Be the change you want to see? Okay then—BRB. I’m gonna go tell my husband to make breakfast so I can post a picture of it. Caption: “my incredible husband, hottest pancake-flipper in the whole world.” #DateNight