I have to start this post by saying that when Expat Polar & I first started dating, we DID NOT plan to be involve in any kind of social media together. In fact, at that time, Expat Polar was not even on Instagram, he didn’t have an active Facebook account and he found out my blog through someone else as I never mentioned it (!!). Even then when he knew about it, my blog was always my own business and never featured as a part of our relationship.
We were together for about a year when he started mentioning an interest in starting to make his own videos since he is a YouTube addict. All I did was raise an eyebrow when he first mentioned it. When I realized it was a hobby he actually wanted to pursue, I bought him his first gimbal and away he went. He kept busy by roping me into his videos and creating a YouTube channel for us. My point is, this was never something we sat down & discussed because it was never our intention. Truthfully we just kind of fell into it when we realized how curious people were about our lives and relationship.
Side note: Its really common now for people with large Instagram followings to evaluate a potential mate online. Later they come forth with a request to pretend to be in a relationship in order to gain more fame, followers and sponsors. Its basically considered a business proposal.
What happened next?
The problem with not communicating about something means there is no plan & no boundaries. After a certain time, one party is bound to experience some sort of confusion. I also find that people have this weird impression that if you post pictures with your partner on social media, you have no issues and you’re leading some kind of idyllic life. Get your head out of the sand and know that everyone in a relationship disagrees. Everyone gets annoyed, hates certain habits of their partners and has their problems. Know that that neither Polar or I get paid for anything we do on social media so I can comfortably tell you the truth here!
In this post I want to talk about the rewards and challenges of being in a relationship where social media is a shared hobby and how that can impact on a relationship. The amusing bears in these gifs are called Milk & Mocha Bear.
Challenge: Finding a balance between appreciating a moment & creating content
I think this point can relate to anyone who posts on social media, not just couples. We all have to find a way to strike a balance between appreciating the gorgeous scenery or lively concert in front of us rather than just viewing it from behind a lens. I have been blogging for a long time now and experience has taught me the value of snapping photos and then putting my phone away to enjoy what I am doing. This often leaves me with less content that I’d like. However, if I am paying attention to what’s going on around me, it means I can actually be better at writing on my blog. So I am 100% happy with this trade off.
Photography of us…
Photography- as a couple- is more difficult because it takes twice as long to do things. Its not just a case of point and shoot like you do to take a photo of each other. You have to set up a tripod, plan your shot, evaluate the result and make many adjustments. This is especially true when one partner is extra tall and you’re on different ends of the skin tone spectrum (welcome to my life). I personally try to dedicate time after we have explored a place to do this so that we have some beautiful memories & photos together. When I am blessed to have the opportunity to return to a place, its even better. We explore the first time and go back to take photos. Of course this isn’t always possible when traveling but its definitely my preferred method.
Then there is vlogging…
When Expat Polar started vlogging, it was harder because you can’t just take a few videos and put the camera away. You need TONS of videos with things happening in them. I had to adjust to being recorded as I did normal things like EATING & WALKING. If you know me personally, you’ll definitely see me being irritated in a few vlogs. I’m torn between wanting to enjoy a moment with my partner but knowing he wants to film so he can create something amazing.
Finding a balance between creating content and actually spending quality time together is definitely the biggest challenge for us. Even though we communicate about it a lot more now, there are unquestionably times where one of us tells the other, “Put your phone down please”.
Reward: The creation of something tangible that becomes a joint hobby
Before the vlogging began, there did come a point where Polar and I sat down and I asked him to write about our relationship from his perspective for my blog. It wasn’t because he was my partner that I asked him, rather because I felt that he had useful things to say. I was right because when he submitted his piece for editing and I read it over I knew it would touch many hearts and appeal to a ton of people in his position.
And I was right!
The post views were through the roof when I finally published. I sat back and felt astonished that together we created something beautiful and informative. Fast forward a few months and it was even better when I watched our first vlog about our time in Azerbaijan. Its 10 times more incredible to see you and your partner on a screen. You can relive your entire holiday together through a video. I watched it to the point where I can’t hear the intro music without becoming annoyed now! What I am trying to say here is that you spend time together, collaborating, discussing and making decisions about what to do and eventually you have something tangible that you can’t help but feel proud of. It actually makes you feel closer to the person.
Challenge: Keeping it authentic when your life is public
I never wanted to fall into the influencer trap of just posting photos of myself and my partner perfectly happy with cute captions about how much we love each other. While of course I do want to post our best photos (especially because its so difficult to take those photos!), I do try to keep things real. I talk about some of the challenges we have experienced, the difficult backstory behind how we began dating and more behind the scenes stuff of our lives. While the temptation to post without any forethought is there, don’t just put on a make believe state of happiness when you post on social media. I believe that its crucial do things with purpose and intent. I personally unfollow people who keep posting about great their relationships are (BORING) and just assume they actually hate each other in reality.
Reward: Discovering different elements of your partner through this activity
I used to watch The Amazing Race and marveled at couples who were tackling assignments as if they had NEVER accomplished a task together before. In this way I do feel that creating content together definitely allows you to see different parts of your partner and bring out the desirable or unflattering parts of them. For example, when Polar first offered to take photos of me I had to swallow my annoyance at his ability to cut off my feet in every photo (like seriously why?). I had to revert to my classroom level of patience in order to help him improve. In the same way, I probably didn’t realize how creative he was until he started creating vlogs. His endless ability to watch/listen to the same things over and over again fascinates me. We have both learnt to juggle multiple projects and plan in advance too. I would be happy to go on The Amazing Race (I think!).
Challenge: Not letting your relationship be defined by social media
This hasn’t been a personal challenge of mine but I think its worth mentioning here. The trap of ‘is it even worth it if we didn’t post about it?’ is all too real. Publicly posting about all the presents your partner gave you or constantly mentioning how great your partner is can be be a sign of anxious attachment. Its where you want the relationship to remain highly visible so that it feels extra solid and un-breakup-able. What is the point in a long message about how thankful you are to your partner because she does so much for you? Just tell her in person and leave the world out of it! If you are upset because your partner didn’t write a gushy message on their Faebook timeline about your birthday, try to figure out why exactly you are offended. Is your love less valued if it isn’t seen by others?
Remember your impact on the audience…
It becomes boring for others too… I mean think about it. If all you spoke about, at every social gathering, was how wonderful your relationship is, I would go out of my way not to interact with you. Social media is a conversation. It’s putting something out there that other people care about. There is a limit to how much people care about your relationship.
If you’ve read this far and you aren’t in a relationship, I can assume that its because you want to know if people are really as happy as they seem in their photos. Perhaps you’re envious of these couples while you patiently await your knight in shining armour or princess with long hair. But in the age of social media, I fear that some people only want a partner so they can have someone to be in their photos or even better- take their photos. They don’t realize that real relationships wrestle with things like envy, selfishness, and insecurities. None of these seem to have no place on a social media where everything can be filtered and cropped. Are you ready for that?
When you’re part of a couple…
If you are in a relationship then ask yourself, would you still be with this person if social media didn’t exist? If the only people who ever saw you & your partner together were people you met in person, would you still enjoy your relationship? If you’re in a relationship where social media has become a hobby for you- through whichever platform- communicate about the impact it has on your relationship. Discuss what challenges and rewards you both think about. Your list may be different to mine!
Manage how you post…
At the end of the day no one is saying ‘don’t post about your relationship’- just consider why and how you do it. You need to add value to people’s feeds. If you don’t do anything for others with your content, then it’s really hard to convince people to stick around. Think about the famous people you follow. You follow them because you like them, their music, their lifestyles etc. You get inspired by them. In the same way, your posts should aim to inspire people without forsaking your relationship for it. Always remember that social media- of any kind- could shut down tomorrow but you will still have your relationship. If social media forms the basis of all your activities and is the main thing the 2 of you have in common, what on earth will be left if that happens?
This is part 3 of my series: Panda’s Blogging Bites. Also read:
If you enjoyed this post, leave your address below so that you can get an email every time I publish a new one!