We all know that social media is bad for us—it’s competitive, it’s addictive, and it’s often not very true to life. But there’s one negative side of social media that we don’t talk about as much: the fact that it can make us act like a totally different person or, sometimes, the worst version of ourselves.
This can be especially difficult in a couple. If one partner is social media-averse, while the other updates every moment of their life, it can be grating. But it if one partner has a negative persona online, an exaggerated, almost cartoon version of themselves—showy or aggressive or just constantly putting up a fake representation—that can cause real problems. So what can you do if you hate your partner’s social media persona? Well, it starts with figuring out how much it ties into who they are as a person. Here’s what you need to know.
Can You Separate The Persona From The Person?
As much as you might hate your partner's online persona, you can’t immediately assume that it’s something totally divorced from who they are—it’s still an extension of them. Sure, for some people social media is a necessity for their job. If you’re with a model or a journalist or a writer, they may need to use social more than you would like to help keep their work going—or maybe even as part of a contractual obligation. It can be difficult, but that’s something you need to manage.
But what if it’s not for work? Then you need to look closer. Is there anything about their online behavior that would make you worry about who they are—or makes you think less of them? It’s not just about being on it a lot, it’s about who they are when they use social media. If you find that they’re bullying or aggressive, really fake, or that they use social media so much that they ignore you in the process, you may want to consider if this is the right person to be in a relationship with.
Set Some Boundaries
If you feel like you can handle your partner's online presence, but you just don’t like it, then you need to set some boundaries. You should feel free to make it clear that you don’t like their social media use and why—with an emphasis on how it makes you feel. Explain to them that you feel like they show off to much or that they use it inappropriately and that it makes you feel small, confused, or worried. Then explain that you won’t always be liking their posts or that you want them to stop using their phones during dinner—whatever it is that’s going to make it easier for you to deal with their online persona.
One caveat to this would be if they act like they’re single on their social media profiles—often known as “stashing.” If you feel like they’re actually promoting being single on their social media, then you need to have a much bigger conversation about why that’s happening. Sure, some people are just more private than others, but there’s a difference between being private and actively hiding your partner. Feel it out—if they get cagey and defensive, you’ll get a good sense of whether or not they’re up to no good.
If You Need To, Don’t Be Afraid Of The Unfollow Button
If you love your partner and don’t think that their unpalatable social media profile is representative of who they, feel free to unfollow or unfriend them. It may seem extreme, but it actually can help you get some headspace. It’s especially helpful if they need to use social media for work or if you feel like it’s a good outlet for them. It allows them to have their own little corner of the internet and for you to get some peace and quiet (on the internet, at the very least).
Of course, if you go this route then you’re going to want to have a conversation with your partner. They may be hurt or confused that you want to take such a big step, so explain why you think it’s good for you and for your relationship. Give them some room to be a little hurt and upset—let them ask questions—but, ultimately, you still might find that it’s the right decision for both of you.
Social media is definitely a blessing and a curse (OK, so it’s probably more of a curse). But it doesn't have to be the end of a relationship, even if you find your partner’s use totally infuriating. Instead, try to come up with some ways to manage your interaction with your partner’s accounts—even if that means the dreaded “unfollow” button. But if you find their usage really worrying, you may want to consider what that says about them as person. Because no matter who we are online, it’s still a part of us.