It’s time to brace yourself, because they’re coming: the holiday proposals. One after the other. Christmas Eve through Valentine’s Day is an incredibly popular time to get engaged, which makes sense. You’re surrounded by family and friends, there’s an excited and magical quality in the air—it creates an easy background to a special proposal. But for some of us not getting engaged, it can be tough. If you’re single—or in a relationship where you’re waiting for a proposal that hasn't happened—seeing all of the social-media updates about engagements can be incredibly disheartening. If an engagement is something you want in your future but haven’t found yet, then seeing Instagram posts and Facebook updates roll in can make you question where you are in life.
It’s easy to panic and start worrying about our own relationships (or lack thereof) and to feel the need to compete and catch up with our friends. But you really, really don’t have to feel that way. Put your phone down, take a step back, and clear your head. Because even though it can feel like you’re drowning in engagement photos, it’s not as bad as you think. Here’s how to deal with it.
Keep Some Perspective
First of all, it seems like everyone you know is getting engaged—but they aren’t, I promise. “While millennials are incredibly active socially, underemployment and lower salaries leave them with less disposable income,” Forbes reports. “Even though it seems like everyone on your Facebook keeps getting engaged, only 23 percent of millennials are married and live in their own household. The ages at which adults today are getting married and owning homes are older than previous generations.”
So even though you may feel like everyone else is running ahead of you, they’re really not. You’re just seeing a handful of people—but because it may be something you feel insecure about, it feels like everyone’s doing it. The same is true for having children, buying houses, getting PhDs, and vacationing on a yacht. Social media makes it looks like everyone has perfect lives that are ticking every box—but that’s never the whole story.
Consider a Social-Media Detox—or a Purge
Even if you can remember that it’s just some people getting engaged, you may still struggle with seeing all of the posts. If you’ve been through a bad breakup, if you and your partner are disagreeing about whether you should get married, if for any reason you find those posts difficult, remember that you just don’t have to look at them.
Consider taking a detox from social media—or even purging out the people who you’re not actually that close to. “Take a look at why you have social media. Is it to keep up with friends and family?” Forbes asks. “Unfollow the people you haven’t talked to since sixth grade. To network? Stick to LinkedIn and Twitter. To track your fitness? Create a separate fitness Instagram and follow accounts that inspire you. Unfriend or unfollow any account or anyone that is giving you more stress than satisfaction.”
Why get down in the dumps because someone you knew in elementary school got engaged? I actually deleted over 1,000 Facebook friends in one swoop this year...and it felt amazing. If that seems like too big of a step, though, at least consider giving yourself a break in this difficult period.
Focus on Your Own Life
Finally, think about getting to the bottom of why all of these updates bother you. There’s a good chance that it’s because of something that you feel is lacking in your own life. Maybe you feel you need to find a partner (or a better one), maybe you’re feeling like you haven’t achieved enough in your career, maybe you’re disconnected from the people you care about. Try to be honest with yourself about why these posts and life updates hit a nerve—and try to work on the source rather than the symptom. It’s a new year, so there’s no better time for a fresh start or to focus on some self-improvement. Not only will you be less bogged down in jealousy or animosity, you can improve your life and work toward making yourself happier.
Here’s the thing: Pretty much everyone gets annoyed with the onslaught of engagement updates. And if you’re feeling vulnerable about your relationship status, it’s going to be even harder. But try to be realistic. Even if it feels like the updates are coming through thick and fast, that’s still only a small portion of the people you know. And if that doesn’t help, just disengage. You don’t need to keep refreshing that feed. You don’t need to look at social media at all. Be kind to yourself; take a step back and focus on what you need.