Social Media and Relationships: What His Habits Mean
Find out how to handle his constant updates
Social media and romantic relationships don't always merge seamlessly. If you're dating someone new, and they are constantly on Instagram, Facebook or Snapchat, and yet they never mention you, or post a photo, what does that mean? Not to mention that if social media didn't exist, you wouldn't even have to worry about what that means.
Certain habits can mean different things for your relationship. Read on to hear the facts.
Social media and relationships
Tina B. Tessina, PhD, (aka "Dr. Romance") psychotherapist and author of Love Styles: How to Celebrate Your Differences, sat down with LadyLUX to talk about social media and dating.
LadyLUX: What does a man's social media habits mean to a relationship?
Dr. Tina B. Tessina: They mean a lot. Remember, if your relationship goes well, his social media habits will be a big part of your life together. And, since he should be on his best behavior during a date, social media habits may get worse as you both relax in the relationship.
LL: If he's always looking at his phone on a date with you, does that mean something in particular?
TT: Yes. That means either that he's uncomfortable face to face, or he doesn't value your company. Unless he's an emergency medical professional on call, or this's something drastic happening to one of his family members, he should not be looking at the phone at all. You can politely suggest that both of you put away your phones, in case he's just clueless about politeness. Always keep in mind that he should be on his best behavior on a date.
LL: Does it mean he's rude, or cheating, or nothing at all?
TT: It most likely means he's clueless. He doesn't understand the importance of politeness and paying attention to the person you're with. If he understood how rude and disrespectful it is, he wouldn't do it. However, explaining that probably won't work. Just ask him to put it away, and see how he reacts. If he's cheating on you right in front of your face, he's worthless, and this should be the last date.
LL: What about if he looks at his phone right before bed, or first thing in the morning, or takes his phone with him everywhere, even the bathroom?
TT: He's probably under 30. Phones are a ubiquitous thing in modern culture, and many people take them everywhere. You must negotiate technology rules and agreements in today's relationships. If your relationship progresses, you will need to agree on when it's okay to answer phones, play online games, what does and does not get shared on social media sites, and so on.
LL: What about the things he actually posts on Facebook and Twitter - are those clues to his opinions about your relationship?
TT: Yes, and what he posted before he met you is even more telling. Facebook and Twitter feeds go back a long time, so you can check out how much he drinks, who his bros are, past girlfriends, and what his family is like. You can also check out his online dating profiles. Don't interpret what your partner posts online, ask. If you see something on his Facebook wall, or in an e-mail, go ahead and ask.
Facebook is public, it's not like reading his private mail or diary -- just ask what's going on, and give him a chance to explain. Give him the benefit of the doubt. Definitely don't sit around making up stories -- you'll think up a lot more scary stuff than is real. Learning to manage the new media can save your relationship. It's critical that you learn how to prevent Facebook apps from overtaking your time and your life, to keep Tweeting to a manageable minimum, and to learn how to keep your significant other and dear friends in the loop, even when they aren't e-savvy.
Your close relationships can benefit from texting, posting and tweeting, but they can also suffer. You and your partner need to make agreements about when phoning, texting, e-mail, online gaming, working at home and answering calls is okay, and when it's not. Developing
signals you can use while on the phone to let your spouse know if you're going to be on the phone or computer for a while.
Negotiate guidelines for when answering phones and texts is okay and when it's not. For example, on your special night out, perhaps phoning and texting can be off-limits, unless it's a baby sitter or you're on call at work. Make those agreements in advance.
LL: If he posts your photo, or if he doesn't?
TT: You have to be careful about making assumptions about all this. He may not want to post your photo because he feels very private about your relationship, especially if you're new together. Or, he may have other girlfriends and doesn't want you all to know about each other. Once you're really in a relationship, I suggest you post a photo of the two of you on your own page, then tag him, so it shows up on his page, too. How he responds to that will be telling.
LL: What about if he changes his relationship status, or he doesn't?
TT: If he does change his relationship status, that shows you're important to him. But if he doesn't, it's possible he just didn't think about it. Remember, things like that aren't as important to guys.
Pitfalls in relationships
Tessina said, "With couples in my counseling practice, the biggest pitfall is spending way too much time on the web, followed by internet porn, sex or affairs. The pseudo anonymity of the web makes it tempting to take risks, or to establish a false persona; both can be devastating to relationships. Keep in mind, if it's on the web, false screen name or not, it's findable."
"If your man spends way too much time online, it may not be work, it may be a cyber-affair. Even if he says he's playing an Internet game, he may be developing feelings for one of the other gamers. Or, he may be too involved in porn sites," she said.
Here are ways she suggests you can combat social media issues in your relationship:
DO: Invite him to spend time with you.
DON'T: Nag, cajole, lecture or whine.
DO: Get involved in his cyber gaming to keep an eye on it.
DON'T: Panic, stay calm. Upset will just push him further away.
DO: Learn to check his computer history without his knowledge. It's sneaky, but it may be the only way to find out what's going on.
DON'T: Beg him for attention -- it will put him off.
DO: Clearly and calmly state what's not working for you in the relationship, and invite him to tell you what's not working for him.
DON'T: tell a lot of other people what you find. Pick on friend, or get a therapist. Gossip won't help.
DO: Ask him to go to marriage counseling, if you can't talk about it.