We’ve all seen them, the ‘ideal’ pictures of couples on social media looking perfectly happy. We’ve seen couples posting social media updates expressing how in love they are and how perfect their relationship is.
Whether it’s celebrity couples, influencers, or people in our own social media network, #relationshipgoals and #couplegoals are trending all over the place: it’s almost impossible to avoid.
It’s easy to get caught up in these posts and start comparing your relationship to these ‘ideals’. But chasing these relationship goals isn’t healthy or realistic.
Let’s take a look at why you shouldn’t be chasing these goals and instead, should be focused on your own relationship for what it is.
Social Media Isn’t “Real”
What we see on social media isn’t based in reality. Most people only show the positive parts of their life online, creating highlight reels of their ‘perfect’ life.
They show dream holidays, romantic date nights, and wonderful romantic moments. Yet they don’t show the more ‘boring’, regular parts of life: like doing housework, managing finances, and going to work.
Pictures and videos online are typically heavily edited and don’t reflect the whole truth of who someone is or what they’re experiencing. We only see what they want us to see.
You never know what’s really going on in someone’s private life. No relationship is perfect, even though social media can sometimes make it seem that way. This often leads to unrealistic expectations.
Chamin Ajjan, M.S explains that what you will see on social media of relationships is mostly, “curated and filtered posts that only highlight unrealistic images of what a relationship is”.
Negative Effects of Social Media on Relationships
Looking at these ‘ideals’ on social media can make you feel as though your relationship isn’t good enough or isn’t ‘living up’ to what it should be. This in turn can cause tension and insecurity within your relationship.
Research shows that without appropriate use and a clear sense of perspective, the use of social media can cause problems in relationships, including: “ jealousy, monitoring of romantic partners, infidelity, and distraction.”
Comparing your own relationship to others isn’t healthy or productive. No one relationship is exactly like another, and comparison only fosters jealousy and unhealthy goals.
Studies show that if an individual sees someone on social media receiving a surprise or gift from their partner, they are likely to feel envious and unhappy with the level of effort their partner is putting into the relationship. This occurs even if they were previously perfectly happy within the relationship!
We’re all individuals, and therefore the connections we make romantically will be different from other people’s experiences. The values that are important to you and the things that make you happy within a relationship won’t match up exactly to someone else’s.
It’s crucial you focus on your own feelings and your own relationship, rather than trying to change it to match someone else’s.
Perfection Isn’t Realistic
Striving for a ‘perfect’ relationship isn’t realistic, as no relationship can be completely perfect.
Life can be hard at times and you will inevitably face challenges, both individually and as a couple. It’s impossible to be completely happy and ‘loved up’ 100% of the time.
Abigail Brenner M.D. explains that in any healthy relationship there are ups and downs and that this is completely natural.
Trying to make your relationship perfect will only lead to a sense of it being not good enough and potentially ruin what could be a wonderful bond.
Focus On Realistic, Healthy Relationship Goals
Instead of focusing on these unrealistic ideas of what a relationship ‘should be’, it’s important you focus on realistic, healthy goals for your relationship.
Below are some traits of a healthy relationship:
In a healthy relationship, you should be able to communicate openly with your partner. You should both be able to chat about the things going on in your life and how you’re feeling, and really feel heard by your partner.
You should also be able to talk about more serious things, such as issues that might come up, so that you can deal with them effectively together. Communication should be calm and clear in order to be productive.
Trust is a crucial factor in any relationship: you both need to be able to trust one another completely. You should both be honest with each other and know that your partner is being honest with you.
Trust is also about feeling safe and comfortable with one another, knowing that your partner has your best interests at heart. Within a healthy relationship, you can be your true self and be accepted for who you are.
Supporting and encouraging each other
Both of you should feel supported emotionally by the other. Your partner should be there for you and encourage you to go after your goals in life and to do what’s best for you, as well as for the relationship.
When we enter into a relationship with someone, we don’t stop being who we are individually. You should always feel that you’re able to be yourself and never feel that you need to change who you are as a person for your partner.
Common and individual interests
It’s important that you have interests you share so you can do things together that you both enjoy. Common interests are a big part of how we bond with our partners.
However, it’s healthy to also have individual interests that are separate from your partner. Your partner should support you in pursuing your interests. You should both feel free to spend time apart, either alone or with other people, as well as together.
You should feel free to set boundaries in any relationship, whether it’s romantic or otherwise.
The relationship charity Love is Respect explains that boundaries define what you’re comfortable with and how you’d like to be treated by your partner.
You should be able to express what you need and want from your partner, as well as what you don’t want. This should be done in a healthy way with open communication.
It’s vital that your partner respects your boundaries, just as you should respect theirs.
Being a team
It’s important to remember that you’re a team, and you should work as a team to achieve your life goals and to support each other’s happiness.
It’s easy to forget that you’re on the same team when disagreements occur, but try to remember that you both fundamentally want the same thing: for the relationship to work and for you both to be happy.
Making time for each other
Life can get busy and we often have very busy schedules, but we need to prioritize our partner and ensure we spend quality time with each other.
This often becomes more important in long term relationships when you share a lot of life responsibilities. It can be easy to get swept up in the routine of daily life, so setting aside time to spend together is crucial.
Appreciating each other
Sometimes over time, people can forget to really appreciate their partner. When life gets busy, you might forget to really see your partner for who they are and remember why you fell in love with them.
In a healthy relationship, neither partner should feel taken for granted. You should appreciate each other for who you are and what you do in the relationship. You should also express this appreciation regularly and openly.
Dealing with problems head-on
Problems are inevitable, they’re part of life. Disagreements are a natural part of any relationship: we can’t agree with each other all the time. It’s how you deal with disagreements that makes them healthy or unhealthy.
This is where both the communication and teamwork I mentioned earlier come into play. It’s important to face problems head-on and deal with them effectively. Work together to figure out solutions and compromise where needed to ensure both of your needs are met.
Don’t forget to just enjoy being with one another. Sometimes life gets in the way and we forget to just stop and have fun with our partner.
Be playful, be spontaneous, and just enjoy each other! This is just as important as the more ‘serious’ stuff when it comes to keeping a relationship strong.
Abigail Brenner M.D. states that: “Caring, kindness, support, encouragement, and empathy are the watchwords of a good and loving relationship.”
Try to focus on your own relationship rather than comparing it to others. If you feel that your relationship is unhealthy and isn’t making you happy, focus on doing what’s best for you.
If your relationship is healthy, appreciate it for what it is and work on continuing to make it as healthy as possible. That’s the best way to thrive as a couple, rather than chasing impossible relationship goals.