In a recent story in The New York Times, it was noted that relationships, which already face numerous hardships, have a new foe: social networking. More specifically, sharing too much information about a partner or loved one can, in short, really piss them off. To be sure, figuring out what is okay and what isn't in a relationship is difficult enough without the added dimension of an audience. This sort of micro celebrity lifestyle places added pressure on both people to find a balance between freely expressing personal, sometimes intimate details of their lives and maintaining healthy levels of privacy.
And those levels are different for everyone. Some people, however crass it may seem to some of us, actively encourage their friends and family members to tweet and post on Facebook at events like birthdays, weddings and even during childbirth (ew). More than the revolution will be televised, it would appear. Others eschew all forms of social media and dream of living "off the grid."
Still, there are some fairly simple guidelines you can follow to avoid getting caught in the crosshairs of an angry significant other.
5. Take the relationship status announcement slowly.
Most people have to learn this the hard way. Someone jumps the gun on the whole "in a relationship" thing and feelings are hurt. Not surprisingly, it can cause serious damage early on in a relationship. Having the "state of the relationship" discussion is hard enough without putting it on display for all your friends. Even worse is downgrading your relationship status. If you are working out problems, don't be cutesy and go with "it's complicated." It will get much more so the minute you post that.
4. Ask before posting photos.
Guys, this one is especially for you. None of us like looking like garbage in photos, but we especially don't want them forwarded out to the entire Internet. Show your girlfriend the image BEFORE sending it and don't be upset if she wants it removed once you posted it. Ladies, give your guy a break the first time he does it, but feel free to smack him with his camera phone if he does it again.
3. Don't post angry.
Nothing is more awkward for a relationship, never mind for all your friends, than angry messages about some fight you had with your boyfriend. No one wants to read your airing of dirty laundry. Well, that's not true. We ALL want to read it because it is so damn entertaining! But you shouldn't want us to read it. Plus, when you post crazy, angry stuff, it is inevitable you'll go back and delete it, making you look even more unstable. And, if you get back with the person you just trashed online, they will have seen our requisite support responses that may or may not point out what a bitch she was and now you made it hard on all of us. Thanks for that.
2. Keep your status updates light.
It might be adorable to you to post poetry inspired by your girlfriend or repeated "my hubby is the best hubby ever!" updates, but it places everyone in the uncomfortable position of figuring the best way to tell you to FOR THE LOVE OF GOD STOP without hurting your feelings. Imagine how you will feel in five years when you look back at that stuff. It will be like looking at a diary, except this diary will be completely public and filled with people's responses to your most intimate moments. Scary.
1. Think before you tweet.
This may seem like an obvious thing to say, but all you need to do is read Courtney Love's Twitter feed to realize that not everyone gets this. Use a simple technique they teach in anger management: Before you tweet, particularly when it is something based on a heavy emotion like anger or fear, take a deep breath and count to 10. If you still want to tweet it, turn off the computer and go to sleep. If you wake up and STILL want to post it, consider seeking professional help.