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You've heard the research a million times that Facebook can make us feel bad about our lives. But in my private practice with brides-to-be, that knowledge seems to go out the window.
Nearly every bride I work with despairs about scrolling through her feed, comparing her real-life relationship to the highly curated images of other engaged couples' lives. That annoying younger cousin who's constantly posting that her fiancé is always, every day, totally awesome. That friend-of-a-friend who shares every outtake of their picture-perfect professional engagement portraits. That co-worker who posts a daily (and excited) countdown to marrying the man of her dreams.
"Why don't I do that?" these brides lament to me. "Does it mean I'm not happy enough/excited enough/proud enough? That there's something wrong with us?"
One-word answer: NO.
The real problem for the brides-to-be I work with isn't their post-happy, narcissistic friends. The real problem stems from their making comparisons. That's what's insidious.
Never forget that your friends are sharing the highlight reels of themselves. Not those moments of humdrum sex, or times when they want to kill their fiancés, or when being engaged is a lot tougher than they expected.
You never see this normal, human side of couples on Facebook. So any comparison of relationships isn't apples-to-apples. It's your normal, healthy red delicious stacked up against an exotic pink pearl apple. Wholesome red delicious doesn't stand a chance.
Here's what we want you to do: Take more control of your mental health when it comes to social media by tracking how you feel when you get off Facebook. Do you feel better about your life and relationship, or worse? If you merely take pleasure in your friends' posts, great. If, however, you compare and feel bad about your own life, re-think what you're doing to yourself. Limit the number of times per day you go on Facebook, and how long you're on there. And work to stop comparing your (happy, human) relationship to the perfect digitized ones in your feed.
Allison Moir-Smith, MA, is a bridal counselor, creator of How Brides-To-Be REALLY Feel videos, and author of Emotionally Engaged: A Bride's Guide to Surviving the "Happiest" Time of Her Life.