It can be hard when everyone thinks you’re the ‘perfect’ couple, but in reality, it’s all falling apart. We explore how to navigate things if you’re starting to feel like your relationship looks better in public than it feels in private.
Most of us know we should take social media with a grain of salt, as things aren’t always as perfect as they seem. When we or others post publicly how much we love our friend, or our partner, it’s worth considering what’s really going on under the surface.
Online declarations of love and passion can be addictive in a society that values pairing up with someone else as an important sign of success.
Some relationships are a performance
Many celebrities and influencers will often deliberately use their relationships as performance. Declarations of love, the narrative of how they met, the commitments made and their life dreams are posted on their carefully curated social feeds.
If the couple later splits, then it’s clear that the public declarations and the private reality have been somewhat at odds. It’s easy to question if the couple got so caught up in performing their relationship that they forgot to pay attention to the real deal.
Even us ‘ordinary’ people perform some aspects of our relationships
In our regular, non-celebrity relationships, performance is part of what we do. When we fall in love or are just starting a new relationship, we convey a certain picture of the relationship to friends and family. We focus on our partner’s positives and tell the best stories to make the relationship work.
Then, if we decide down the track to have a wedding or commitment ceremony, this is a performance in itself, where couples may spend a year or more planning a ‘fairy tale’ event.
Families and friends can be invested in the couple’s success, and couples often feel obliged to keep smiling and keep aspects that aren’t going so well to themselves.
When relationships flounder, many people worry most about how others will take the news. The friends who will feel let down, the in-laws who welcomed you in and made you part of the family.
You may fear that your community and social standing will drop too. Together, you might have been a power couple, or joint business owners, or your online profile showcased your relationship. This can make the reality of your situation even more stressful.
How to really invest in your relationship
Here are our top tips for making your relationship as good as it looks online:
Prioritise real communication
If you find yourselves talking more about the next time you are going to appear in public, whether that be family gatherings or work functions, than how you are going together alone, it’s worth checking in.
Problem solve as you go
Even if you are caught up in putting on a good show, agree between yourselves to talk regularly about any issues arising, and wrestle them round to a good conclusion.
Agree on what you post publicly
Talk about and agree on what your public persona as a couple will be. Sometimes one half of the couple races off with publicly profiling it, which makes the other uncomfortable. Usually, agreeing together on what to post – and how often – can be useful. Think about when some genuine private time might be good for your relationship too. Not everything has to be on show.
Make your relationship real
Notice when others might be carried away about you as a couple, and keep yourself, and them, grounded. That doesn’t have to be regular airing of any troubles, but an overly fanciful view of your relationship could be stressful and a burden, as much as it might feel nice to be on a pedestal sometimes.
Have friends you can turn to
Even if you live your relationship in public, having some close friends, as individuals and as a couple, with whom you can be yourselves, is important. It’s helpful to be able to reality check about the ordinary things couples face with a friend.
If your public performance as a couple is out of alignment with your day-to-day behaviour and experiences, then you might be caught in a hypocrisy which is stressful, and which could bring the relationship undone. If you don’t stop and reflect – to catch up with yourselves – then you might miss important opportunities to learn and grow together.
Making sure our relationship values and commitments are aligned with our actual relationship will stand us in greater stead than whether we look great on social media.