Sex, Love, and All of the Above is an advice column written by Psych Central’s sex and relationship writer, Morgan Mandriota. If you have a burning question for Morgan around mental health and sex, and intimacy, she’d love to hear from you! Submit your anonymous questions here.
I’ve been dating my boyfriend for around 10 months. Recently, he expressed disappointment that I haven’t posted any photos or mentions of him on social media. (For context, I’m pretty active on social media.) He said that seeing me post so much about my life and not include him in my posts makes him feel like he’s not important to me. He worries I’m not proud to be dating him.
I love my boyfriend and am very proud of him, so this made me super sad to hear. But past experiences have made me wary of posting about my partners. As I’ve gotten older, I feel more protective over my romantic life. Were I to post about him now, it would be completely about appeasing him, which also doesn’t feel good or authentic.
How can I navigate this tricky situation?
We live in a time when what we post on social media is what people assume our lives look like in the “real world.”
With that in mind, it makes sense that not being shared by someone you love might lead you to think there’s something wrong with your relationship… as is the case with your partner.
Both Ashera DeRosa, a licensed marriage and family therapist, and #HalfTheStory founder Larissa May confirm that this issue pops up within modern relationships all the time.
DeRosa says it’s especially common if one partner is very active online (which you say you are). Insecurities may arise when the other partner feels like they’re being hidden (which is how your boyfriend feels).
On the one hand, you’re entitled to your privacy, and you don’t have to do anything that doesn’t feel good to you. But you’re in a long-term relationship with someone who’s hurt by your actions, which means you may need to try to find a fair middle-ground.
Finding the balance between our digital and physical lives isn’t easy, but there are ways to go about it, so you don’t jeopardize your authenticity, comfortability, or relationship.
The goal of talking about social media is to understand each other’s points of view without judgment, accusations, or getting defensive.
If you haven’t done so already, consider sitting down with your boyfriend for a good, honest talk. This gives you the chance to share your perspective and listen to theirs with an open mind and a heart.
If either of you needs clarity on something, it’s totally OK (and important) to ask follow-up questions.
“Silent issues can destroy relationships,” May says, adding that your partner could feel like there’s something deeper that’s driving you to hide him from your followers.
“It’s important to clear up the why and get to the root of any problems that might be going unaddressed.”
As difficult as it may be, remember that it’s a good thing when a partner brings up their concerns.
“If the relationship wasn’t important to them, they’d simply walk away from it,” DeRosa says. “Reframing a partner’s complaints in this way fosters more emotional safety.”
“Social media adds a new dimension of complexity to relationships in the digital age,” May says.
She notes that it’s common for partners to have different preferences about the role they want social media to play in their relationships.
You say you’re active on social media — are you posting about everything but your relationship? If so, as much as you don’t want to publicize your intimate life, it’s understandable that your partner might feel like you’re hiding him.
To align on both expectations and comfort levels, May recommends:
- agreeing on common goals
- setting clear next steps
- establishing boundaries that you both feel good about
And as time goes on and your relationship evolves, DeRosa adds that it’s OK to renegotiate those terms.
She suggests reflecting on these questions to help you better assess your needs:
- What happened that made you so wary about posting your love life on social media?
- Is there a way that you can share this part of your life online that might feel safer?
- What does relationship security feel like for you? And your partner?
- How do you know when your partner is feeling secure and insecure?
You’ve been dating for 10 months now, so you and your boyfriend may be together for the long haul. So, for the sake of keeping your relationship afloat, you may need to reach a compromise here.
Try asking yourself:
- What are you willing to do to “appease” your partner?
- What level of compromise would feel good to you?
You might also consider what your boyfriend wants to see you share about him and your relationship on social media — a daily mention… or a tagged picture now and then?
DeRosa says figuring out his expectations can also help you find a resolution.
If you need help moving forward and reaching an agreement, there’s no shame in speaking with a couples therapist.
Now that you’ve (hopefully) come to an agreement. What’s next? Where do you go from here?
Well, once the talk ends, the work begins.
Regular check-ins with each other may help ensure that you’re both doing your part and feeling good about how things are going.
It may take time to adjust and get this right. But continuing to have regular, open communication could be an important factor in getting you there sooner rather than later.
Good luck, Unposted. As tricky as navigating social media boundaries may be, it’s possible to do so in a way that feels good for you and your partner. Whatever you do, consider taking May’s advice: Don’t let social media ruin your real life.
With love and pleasure,
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