These days, the line between our online and offline selves is more blurred than ever. Though your Instagram feed really only a highlights reel of your actual life, it's still an extension of who we are, and how we present ourselves says a lot about us. In particular, how you interact with your partner on social media actually says a lot about your relationship. Are you super private, and don't even have a single selfie with your partner? Or are you an over-sharer, who documents every moment you and you spend together? Whatever your preference, there are plenty of good social media habits healthy couples have.
I spoke to Laurie Davis Edwards, founder of eFlirt and author of Love @ First Click , to find out how happy couples use social media to bolster their relationship instead of undermine it. "Every couple has their own practices for things like social media," she tells Bustle. "I think it's about what works best and is most comfortable for you two. Trust in a relationship is so important and, especially for Millennials, I don't see a reason why you'd want to change what you’re doing on social media if you really trust your partner."
If you're in a relationship, here are seven good habits to get into when it comes to social media — and duh, don't forget to hit 'like' when your boo posts a fire selfie.
1. They Don't Stalk Their Exes
The temptation to constantly look up your partner's former flames can be overwhelming at times. It's understandable — everyone's a little bit insecure, and that's OK as long as it's kept in check. "I can understand doing it in the early stages, but once you’re moving a relationship forward, at some point you need to cut yourself off," Davis Edwards says.
Looking up an ex is really a way to compare yourself to him or her, which is detrimental to your self-esteem and can impede your relationship. Studies have even shown that stalking exes as a coping mechanism is not really good for you. If you're secure in your relationship, the temptation will naturally dissipate with time, because you aren't always comparing yourself to your partner's exes. Healthy couples know their S.O. chose them, and that their exes are exes for a reason.
2. They Don't Constantly Tag Each Other
Is there anything worse than *that* couple who's obsessed with tagging their partner in every single, photo, video, and status, even if it seemingly has nothing to do with their relationship? Of course, it's up to the two of you to decide what is and isn't acceptable in your relationship, and it's not a bad thing to be actively involved with each other online. But more often than not, seeing someone who tags their S.O. in every post makes me think to myself that they may be a bit insecure in their relationship. A happy couple is more focused on enjoying each other IRL, and they know they don't have to prove anything to anyone about their relationship.
3. They Don't Share Passwords
Maintaining your individuality and independence is vital to success in any relationship. Every couple has different comfort levels when it comes to online privacy, but I would still advocate for keeping your social channels private. Although it's usually older, married couples who share accounts and have Facebook names like 'BobAndSue Smith', it's not all that uncommon for younger couples to share passwords, especially if there's been a recent breach in trust (like cheating).
However, it's healthy for you each to have some privacy and to be able to communicate freely with your friends and family, without the watchful eye of an S.O. The real key? Transparency. "If something were to happen, like an ex contacts you, are you talking about it?" Davis Edwards asks. You don't need to monitor each other online, but you should feel comfortable talking about potential roadblocks as they come up, and compromise accordingly.
4. Their Social Networks Overlap
"Social media is a reflection of our offline social lives," Davis Edwards says. "The more your partner becomes an important part of your life, the more important the people in their life should become to you, and vice versa." If you're in a healthy relationship, naturally you'll start to mingle with one another's friends, and that will ideally be reflected online, too. Not that you need to send a friend request to their mom and dad after day one, but it's certainly a good sign if the two of you become fond enough of each other's friends/family that you want to get digitally friendly.
5. They Don't Filter Their Posts
Naturally, a huge red flag would be feeling the need to filter some of your posts so that your partner doesn't see them. Unless you're planning an engagement or surprise party, you shouldn't be blocking your significant other from seeing any of your posts. Again, it's all about transparency: You want to be the same person online and off, and you shouldn't feel the need to present a false face to your S.O. while showing your friends someone totally different. Don't go overboard with showing off your relationship, but a healthy couple should feel comfortable letting their social networks know they're together, and the two of you should be a united front.
6. They Give Each Other Props
You don't need to brag about every single thing your partner does, Davis Edwards says, but it's still a good habit to get to, every once in a while, sincerely give your partner props on social media. "The context matters so much," she says. "When done in the context of something like falling ill and thanking your partner for taking care of you, you’re sharing something else. You're letting your friends into your world, sharing something that's happening to you, and mentioning your SO as someone who’s been supportive."
Those in a happy relationship know the value of a compliment — they feel amazing online or offline. If you're open about how appreciative you are when your partner steps up to the plate, it's going to really boost their confidence and make them feel loved.
7. They Don't Air Dirty Laundry
This should hopefully go without saying, but a happy couple wouldn't post anything online about fights the two of them may have. Not only is it disrespectful, but it can change your friends' perception of your relationship, and that can be irreparable. "Realness [online] is good, but privacy in a relationship is important," Davis Edwards says. "When people are used to seeing the 'highlights reel', suddenly seeing posts where you're blasting your S.O. is really jarring." Happy couples know that arguments are best resolved offline, by communicating calmly and openly.
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