So, fabulous news, you’ve met someone using a matchmaker or you’ve struck lucky on a night out. Back in the day, before the first date, there would be masses of anticipation and questions, fuelled only by your imagination and high hopes. You might wonder what sort of life they lead, what they do for work, what you have in common. Curiosity was the most we had and although leaving us impatient and occasionally frustrated, it forced us to listen, ask questions and give people a chance.
With the flood of social media information we all now have instant access to, much of this process has quickly dissipated. As with everything else in life, we’re able to binge on potential love matches before we’ve even gone on a first date. It may sound like an efficient way of managing our love lives and not wasting time on the wrong people, but is it really?
Forgetting the real person
When someone you’re romantically interested in is reduced to a news feed or collection of pictures that contain very little context or depth, something very subtle either leaks into or out of your relationship. There is the tendency to treat what you’re scrolling through as some sort of non-fictitious movie. If you see a comment you don’t like there’s the ebb of disappointment, whilst an image classed as positive creates a flow of excitement. The sad truth is, you’re in a room experiencing this alone, not over dinner with the actual individual in question.
What we fail to witness when substituting a social media profile for a real human being is the multifaceted nature of their personality. What you’re part of is a captured moment rather than a real-time experience. You’re witnessing their opinions without being present in the feelings that influenced them and which might offer further explanation. It’s second hand smoke you’re consuming, simultaneously robbing a potential partner of the opportunity to share their heart on a deeper level.
Their history becoming your present moment
Another issue with courting someone’s social media profile is that inevitably at some point their history will become your current focus. Seeing what their ex looked like, how they spent their days together or where they holidayed, is an added pressure that no one needs. If you’re a woman who struggles with your weight, or a man with body confidence issues, seeing that your love interest dated a supermodel or an Adonis is going to do zero for your self esteem. You’ll likely begin wondering what they see in you, the doubts will quickly set in and it’s a slippery slope from there.
It’s a much more graceful approach to wait until a date is ready to talk to you directly about their past. It creates intimacy and trust in a way that scrolling cannot.
Friend or foe guessing games
The amount of times people have argued or even split up because of social media induced jealously is probably far too great to quantify. One person likes a picture of a pretty woman on Instagram, another receives a private message from a male friend, and it’s cue world war three before any real explanations have been given. Social media, because it’s all at once so public and yet so reflexive to the point of thoughtlessness, can leave a lot of room for misinterpretation and often does.
Wondering if the person behind a particular profile is a threat to your relationship not only shifts your attention away from your partner, it blurs the lines between what’s real life and what isn’t. Whether it’s a social media friend or foe infiltrating your relationship, the question is what’s happened to your ability to communicate with the person you’re sharing a bed with?
If a social media status or action leaves you in a state of flux, it’s worth taking a look at the boundaries you’ve set and what passes for acceptable behaviour in your relationship.
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