7 Ways Comparing Your Relationship To Someone Else's Is Toxic, According To Experts
With social media at our fingertips, it's hard not to get caught up in other friends' (or even strangers') perceived lives via their Instagram posts. This is especially true when it comes to relationships, and although we all know comparing your life and relationship to someone else's is unhealthy, it may even be toxic.
The evolution of technology and social media has made dating and meeting people more accessible, but in turn it gives individuals a platform to bombard others with their relationships and how ~happy~ they are with their partner. Almost every aspect of one's relationship is broadcasted across social media to make their life seem perfect, from Snapchatting a sexy beach day with their partner to oogling over the perfect kiss-in-the-rain Insta. And let's face it, sometimes it's really difficult to stop yourself from falling into this unhealthy cycle of comparison.
"What looking at life through the lens of social media does is filter everything that we see, leaving us with a permanent sense of what we have isn't good enough, or that we should want more," psychosexual relationship therapist Kate Moyle tells Bustle. "It gives many a feeling of dissatisfaction about what they have and what is in front of them IRL."
Below are seven unexpected yet important reasons why comparing your relationship to others is toxic behavior, according to experts.
1. You May Become Resentful
Sooner or later, you may start to become unnecessarily resentful of your partner, simply because of posts you saw on social media — even ones that are irrelevant to your own relationship.
"Specific issues that arise that could affect your relationship include the heightened possibility of resentment if our partner doesn't look or act like what we see on social media, as well as a lack of authenticity, if we're wrapped up in what others' relationships look like and how our's compares, instead of being present with our partner," counselor Julie Williamson tells Bustle.
2. You Can Start To Take Things For Granted
Social media typically just shows the 'good', while completely disregarding and ignoring the hardships and challenges that we face in life.
As a result, comparing your relationship to ones you see plastered all over Instagram can shift your perspective on relationships. "[It] can give a sense of the 'grass being greener,' and so always keeping one eye on the next thing, and what this can impact is the here and now and stop us enjoying and appreciating what we have," says Moyle.
Subsequently, this can impact your relationship with your partner, too. Not surprisingly, your significant other may feel insecure, threatened, and may be be wondering if you'd rather be dating your friend's partner from Instagram, psychologist Andrea Liner tells Bustle.
3. You May Have Unrealistic Expectations
There really is no such thing as the perfect partner. But since social media only showcases the highlights of someone's life, you may start to dream up a fictional partner who's too perfect to exist IRL, and unfortunately, you may get caught up the fantasy.
"It [social media] also creates unrealistic expectations of a partner because we piece together the best of each partner or relationship that we see on social media and expect it all in one person and in our own relationship," relationship expert Anita Chlipala tells Bustle.
4. You May Become Jealous & Dissatisfied for No Good Reason
Unrealistic expectations of what you need or want in a partner from online images may lead you to become dissatisfied with your partner IRL, when in reality, they didn't do anything wrong in the first place.
Therapist and professional matchmaker Christie Tcharkhoutian gives an example of this: Let's say it's your birthday, and your partner plans a surprise birthday dinner for you filled with intimate moments and special memories. Then, once you get back from the magical night, you scroll through Instagram and see another person's birthday, where their partner bought them more expensive gifts than yours did or took them to a better restaurant.
"In this way, we allow the joy in our partnership to be controlled by how they measure up to 'the norm' or the 'ideal' when there is no normal, or ideal standard in relationships," she tells Bustle.
5. Your Friends May Act Distant
If you find yourself obsessing over other couples on social media, or even worse, rant about it every day to your friends and loved ones, you could potentially drive these individuals away.
'"People tend to become disheartened feeling as though they can’t live up to the lives of others on social media," Jane Reardon, therapist and founder of RxBreakup, tells Bustle.
After all, nobody likes to be around someone who's negative all the time, and if you're in a relationship with someone, romantic or not, you can't just talk about your problems all the times.
6. You May Start To Think Irrationally
Since social media filters out all the negative aspects of one's life and just shows the positives, you may start to think the world should be like that, too, and that can be an extremely unhealthy perspective.
"Our brain loves certainty and tends to operate on all-or-nothing mode," Mabel Yiu, founder of the Women's Therapy Institute, tells Bustle. "We see another couple’s happy photos on Instagram; our brain assumes that couple is blissed out 24/7 and then negatively evaluate our relationship because we just fought with our loved ones."
7. Your Communication With Your Partner May Decline
Social media can put you in a bit of a funk, where your unrealistic expectations for your partner may cause you to become distant and even argue more. In other words, your disdain for your partner can cause a number of other issues in the relationship, including problems with communication, which is a key building block in relationship success and health.
"Often times in relationships, we get stuck in negative communication problems that seem to arise from problems within the couple when in actuality, in relationship, two individuals come together with their own individual experiences," Tcharkhoutian says.
Tcharkhoutian also tells Bustle that it's common that these individual experiences and beliefs can easily be altered from what we view on social media.
So what can you do? Consider taking a break from social media — or at least the accounts that are affecting you the most. If that's not an option, try to implement better ways to cope, like limiting your time browsing or using it more mindfully, with thought and rationale. Above all, remind yourself that social media does not display an accurate reality, and the grass often isn't greener on the other side.