Hello, Social Media! Have a Seat. But Don’t Make Yourself Too Comfortable.

Today, I said something to a couple that I would normally keep to myself. However, it is becoming such a common issue that I could not resist. They were contemplating concerns in regard to social media and the privacy/trust issues they were having. Should they friend one another? Is it to be expected? What about friending exes or following models or tabloid favorites? What are the rules? Why am I following you but you’re not following me?

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These are questions that come up time and time again in counseling.

So, I was blatantly honest with this couple who came to me to figure these things out.

I told them that this issue of social media combined with couples would keep me in business for a very long time.

They looked at me like I was crazy. They asked “So, this is normal? For couples to have problems about this?” My answer was a definite yes.

But then I added an “unless” to my statement. Social media issues between couples would keep me in business a very long time UNLESS couples decided one of three things. They either needed to decide to be completely transparent with one another in regards to anything they were doing related to social media, not be involved in social media at all, or trust each other 110% and accept whatever the other person chose to do and never whine or speak of it until each of them agreed otherwise.

Let me explain.

First, if a couple is completely transparent, it negates the idea of even thinking about having a secret. You exchange passwords, you friend one another, you accept each other’s invitations, and you comment and tag one another. If one person doesn’t respond to a post, the other person can call them out and say “Hey, did you see that thing I posted? Check it out.”

This uses social media to a couple’s advantage. You can share secrets – not keep them – from each other. By being transparent, you can actually grow together. You can make fun of other people, you can share things you like, you can comment on things you hate. You can actually make good conversations out of the sharing. If there is a positive side to social media combined with couples, this is it.

Or if you are not sure you can pull that off as a couple, you can go to option number two.

Refrain from social media entirely. That means no twitter, no Instagram, no facebook, no kick. Nothing. Not even texting. If you want to keep things as easy as possible, put it out of your head. Period.

There actually was a time where couples did just fine without these things. Not to say there were no secrets without the helpful hand of social media. But the breeding ground for them was much smaller and the spy factor was much less as well. The insecurity, the feeding into “what ifs,” even the comparisons – they were not as blatant. Nor as damaging.

And a person could say something without it being forever available to be perused and dissected and obsessed about over and over again. There used to be a time that couples could say mean things in the heat of the moment. Then, after the heat was removed, claim diarrhea of the mouth, give a sincere apology, and then move forward.

There is little of that left today, thanks to social media. And don’t get me started on Aunt Joanne having a ring side seat to the show because she is your number one follower and loves a good showdown. This is too much for any couple.

Let’s put this in perspective, shall we? Imagine how social media would go down if it was actually a person in your home:

Social Media (lounging on your sofa, interrupting your reading of that brief you have to have completed by Tuesday): Did you see that picture your husband posted last night of that hot chick?

Wife: No.

Social Media: Well you should. It’s pretty bad. It has like 500 likes already. You should see the comment section.

Wife: No, I’m good. I don’t need to see it.

Social Media: Well. Hmmmm. Are you sure? It’s right here. See. Wait. Let me blow up her breasts for you. Can you believe he’s looking at this?

Wife: I’m sure it’s nothing.

Social Media: LOL. Um, okay. Yeah, it’s nothing. Um, did you see that girl who commented? Who’s that girl? We can check. She might be an ex. She went to the same college as he did. Maybe they had sex once. I’d be worried.

Wife: Um . . . okay, who is it?

Social Media: Oh, you have to see her. I looked her up, right? Under his friends list? Well, it wasn’t his list. But his friend’s friends list. He probably doesn’t really friend her to keep you from being suspicious. She looks like a real winner! Not. You should see this party picture she posted. Maybe he went to the party! Do you think he went to that party? I bet you he did. The date of the pic is the same night your husband told you he was going out with Matt. Remember that?

Wife: Hmm, no. What day?

Social Media: Oh, I can find out for you, right down to the time it happened. Maybe we could blow up that picture, too. Maybe we can find him in the background! Oh, let’s check his phone, too. It may give us some clues. Did he text you when he was “supposedly” with Matt? Wasn’t that the night he said his battery died? Let’s start by looking at her friends list, then comparing it to your husband’s friends list – maybe we’ll find something else. Gotta any chips?

Wife: Um, yeah. Okay, I’ll get the dip, too.

6 hours later . . .

Social Media: Oh, my bad. That pic of the hot chick? It looks like your brother Bob sent it as a joke to his friend John. Your husband got tagged in it. Hmmm . . . false alarm. But, I bet we can find something on his Instagram account! You got anything to drink?

So, you get the point? A never ending road of assumptions, questions, and issues you never even knew you had. Why invite Social Media in at all?

If this doesn’t appeal, couples still have a third option: Trust your partner implicitly. Period. No questions.

You make a deal that no matter what is posted, said, or done, it is okay. Naked girls? Cool. Conversations with exes? Not a problem. Recipe trolling? Awesome! Millions of pictures of prize orchids? All over it.

You say to one another: I don’t care. I love you. I trust you. See you at dinner. We’ll do Chinese.

There is a fourth option, I forgot to mention.

Make rules that are okay for both of you. And then stick to them. Prized orchids? In. Ex girlfriends? Out. Meeting a friend for dinner without consulting me? Only if I’m working, then in. Posting nude pics? Sure. Trolling your ex boyfriend? Tell me first, and we’ll laugh at him together.

Every couple’s rules are different. And there is no right or wrong.

But, remember:

When you invite social media into your home, make sure he knows he’s not a permanent structure. He is a guest. He is not there to take up residency.

After all, you have a relationship to work on.