We’ve finally reached a point where most of us live the majority of our lives online as opposed to offline (aka in-person interactions). Although this tech-savvy world has made us more connected than ever, it doesn’t necessarily mean that these connections are satisfying, or don’t interfere with our significant other, according to Jacob Kountz, associate marriage and family therapist at Kern Wellness Counseling. This is especially true if one partner is not on social media, and the other is an active user.
“Trust is key in the revolution of social media due to the fact that it’s considered a hyper-reality—you have the potential in meeting hundreds of people a week with the swipe of a finger versus a normal day to day interaction in-person,” he says. “This can also impact the relationship depending on how we communicate with others who are separate from our partner since they do not have an online account of some sort.”
You might feel as if your partner is missing out on a huge part of who you are—your life on social media. As a result you may find yourself updating them on your social media activity on a daily basis, which can get frustrating, especially if he or she has little-to-no interest.
So what should you do if your partner’s not on social media while you’re on? We asked experts for the best-kept pointers.
Don’t bully your partner into joining the world of social media.
Whatever you do, avoid trying to convince your partner to create social media accounts for themself. In fact, family communication expert and author of the new book Girls Just Want to Have Likes, Laurie Wolk, says that it’s a good thing that they’ve been able to abstain this long. “If they don’t want to join you in the digital world, just let them know that you’re supportive and you’ll keep them posted on what’s happening in your life on both sides of the screen,” she says.
Maintain in-person dialogue.
Whether or not one or both of you are on social media, in-person communication is the key to a healthy relationship. If you’re the only one who uses social media, Kountz suggests practicing checking in with your partner about your level of usage—and even asking them to check in with you often. “If you or they find it’s impacting your relationship, perhaps it’s time to take a break to rejoin the present moment with your person,” he says.
Connect the two worlds.
Due to the fact that one person is more involved on social media than the other, Kountz recommends doing your best to bridge the gap. “Often, I find that at least one person uses social media significantly more than the other, why keep it taboo,” he says. “Talk about what’s going on in social media with your partner—and, for the person who isn’t online, talk about what's been going on in the physical world.”
FOMO, or “fear of missing out,” can occur for those who have social media and haven't been on for quite sometime or are not on social media at all, explains Kountz. “It’s the fear that we are missing our on important moments that we believe we will be left out of conversational circles,” he says. He suggests having a conversation with your partner about this, since they very well may be experiencing moments of FOMO as well since you’re more connected than they are. “Your partner may really appreciate this as this type of conversation can really bring about rich dialogue and intimacy,” adds Kountz.
Have a talk about what can and cannot be shared.
When only one person in a relationship is on social media, Andrew Selepak, Ph.D., professor in the department of telecommunication at the University of Florida and director of the graduate program in social media, explains that it’s important to know what the person not on social media wants shared about them, because they have no way to control the conversation. “Not only do they not know if what you said on social media about them or your relationship, but they also don’t know how people are reacting and how might find out, and they may not want everyone to know or may not want everyone to know in the way their partner tells the world,” he says. Instead, he recommends discussing what to share before it’s shared to avoid a misstep that might damage your relationship.