Much Ado About Something

Dirt of the Day

I’ve recently become aware of the dangers of social networking websites as they pertain to relationships. For some time I’ve been savvy to the traps these sites have a tendency to lay, but have recently fallen victim to them. I thought that I had hit the jackpot: a man with no Facebook account. Thank goodness I wouldn’t have to waste any of my precious time wondering who that girl was or why she felt the need to “like” his status update. I wouldn’t have to see him tagged in any photos from that drunken trip to Vegas or wonder when we were going to agree that we needed to publicly declare that we were in a relationship. Unfortunately, I was wrong. As it turns out, any number of social networking sites (i.e.Twitter) can be just as detrimental to your time, your self-esteem and the very confident, self-assured image you’ve worked hard to achieve. Going from sexy to stalker is just one click of the mouse away – and ladies take it from me, this is not a good look.

It all begins with the simplest of notions, an innocent curiosity. No harm could possibly come from taking a quick peek at his Facebook page (or in my case, Twitter page). Next thing you know, you’re making a mountain out of a mole hill. It’s an online feeding frenzy of indiscernible information – and now just like the double rainbow guy, you’re left senselessly wondering, what does it all mean?! You’re not exactly sure what you’re looking at, but there you go; down down down the rabbit hole until your imagination gets the best of you. Instead of living by the old motto, what you don’t know can’t hurt you, you’re now living by the new motto: what you’re unsure of may cause you to jump to irrational conclusions and cause you to make false assumptions that will cause irreparable damage to your relationship. So ladies: slowly back away from your computer, put down the iPhone – and while you’re at it, find a new hobby.

Ok, supposing you didn’t back away from your computer. You decided to satiate your curiosity. You gave into temptation and now the seed of doubt has been planted. You started the day confident yet curious and now you’ve wound up feeling like a snoop. You think you’re just overreacting, right? It’s probably nothing. You ask a few girlfriends and they can’t believe it either. How could he be seen in a photograph with another woman – the nerve! Listen very carefully: in most cases – IT’S NOTHING! Unfortunately however, therein lies the problem. Sometimes it’s not nothing. Sometimes it’s something. Whether it was spurred by curiosity or worse yet, insecurity, you’re trying to navigate the rough waters of a new relationship and surfing your significant other’s social networking site shouldn’t leave you searching for answers where there weren’t any questions to begin with. The important thing to remember here is to: trust your intuition. The feelings you may be experiencing which led you on this witch hunt in the first place, may be just a symptom of a larger problem in your relationship. If so, it’s better to address the larger problem at hand and leave his Facebook page out of the equation altogether. If you’re going looking for trouble, odds are you already have the answers you’re looking for.

Here’s an example of what may occur if you decide to bring up what you deem to be suspicious activity on his social networking site in conversation without a leg to stand on: “Babe, you don’t seem to mention our relationship much on Twitter. Why is that?” To which hypothetical boyfriend replies, “You’re acting crazy.” Now, since it may prove difficult to retort after this ridiculous accusation without actually sounding crazy, allow me to suggest an alternative course of action. There are two scenarios we’re dealing with here. The first is insecurity. Insecurity is not attractive, not to mention – this is not your significant other’s problem. You are most likely bringing baggage with you from your previous relationship and it’s time to leave it where it belongs: in the past. Don’t give a relationship that was unsuccessful any power over you. That’s how patterns of unsuccessful relationships are created. If you recognize that this is the case, change the subject immediately. The second and more important scenario, is that your significant other is not behaving in a manner that would allow you to feel more secure in your relationship without you having to ask him questions regarding his social networking site in the first place. It’s important to recognize this early on in the relationship and nip it in the bud; otherwise your feelings will go unvalidated and will be swept under the rug only to rear their ugly head another unfortunate day with even greater resentment and disdain.

So how can all this mayhem be avoided? It would be ideal for your significant other to listen to your concerns, invalidate your worries and calmly and lovingly talk you down from the ledge. He should want you to understand the situation fully – after all, there’s nothing to hide. He’s putting it out there for the world to see, so unless he’s oblivious to the way the internet operates, he expects that you will see it. Remember, the more outlandish your concern, the less likely his compassion becomes. Another approach might be that you agree in advance not to be “friends” or “follow” each other on these sites to avoid any unnecessary suspicion. This will also allow you to get to know each other in a more appropriate time frame. You can ask each other questions and experience genuine interest and surprise instead of having to cleverly pretend that you didn’t already find that out on Facebook. The important thing again, regardless of what you decide, is to follow your intuition.You may not be inclined to follow your intuition because that may mean the beginning of the end of the relationship, but trust me, if someone is calling you crazy instead of invalidating the reasons that you’re feeling insecure, you’re doing the right thing. If you’re repeatedly being told that you’re overreacting DO NOT begin to doubt yourself. No matter what the situation may be, you should always trust what your intuition is telling you and if your significant other thinks otherwise and is unwilling to try and be understanding of your feelings, run.

Ok, so you’ve looked closely at the situation and decide it’s worthy of evaluation. Be prepared to have a difficult conversation. Even if there’s nothing to hide, most people are non-confrontational and beginning a conversation with, “Honey, can I ask you a serious question?” or, “Can we please talk about something that’s been bothering me?” is going to sound tedious. Additionally, beware of people who have a tendency to deflect. Too often we let people off the hook because they say something that makes us feel even more insecure. They may behave in a defensive manner that deflects the attention away from themselves and places it back onto you. Being defensive, similarly to being a snoop, is not a good look. Everyone knows defensiveness is closely linked to guilt. Besides, you wanted to have a conversation because you wanted to bring a concern that was legitimate to you to the table in order to discuss it calmly and rationally. Now somehow the conversation is in a tail-spin and has left you wondering what you did wrong. If you’re wishing you had never had the conversation in the first place because it resulted in a fight, you’ve been manipulated. The fight was actually the result of a calculated effort by people who know how to avoid accepting responsibility for their actions. They do this in order that they won’t have to be held accountable for whatever it is they’re choosing to avoid by making you feel like your concerns aren’t valid. Tell your significant other that grown-ups talk about the way they feel and that sometimes it’s uncomfortable, but when you’re in a loving relationship with another person, that person shouldn’t be the one to exacerbate your worries by reducing the discussion to an argument.

So, what have we learned? Firstly, that no matter what you find on your significant other’s social networking site – it’s probably nothing. Secondly, you need to look at the bigger picture and ask yourself why you feel the need to snoop. Remember, leave your baggage at the door before you sabotage your relationship over a picture of him at his cousin’s wedding five years ago. Thirdly, if your intuition is telling you that something’s wrong, there’s nothing you’re going to find on Facebook to either prove or disprove the way you’re feeling, so stop looking for evidence – you already have your answer! Don’t let anyone tell you that what you’re feeling is invalid – you’re the only one that’s allowed to call you crazy. And finally, let’s not forget how many better ways we could be spending our valuable time – if you need a reminder, just look at your mobile uploads on Facebook.

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  1. All I can say is I’m so glad Facebook wasn’t around in college!!!!!!!

    • We did actually have Facebook at Ithaca, my friends on the swim team had it. I lived off campus and had a dial-up modem so I never used Facebook. I had America Online and that was as socially networked as I got. So I have no clue how it was used.

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