I Made My Relationship Seem Perfect On Social Media, But It Was A Lie

A few years ago, if you’d clicked on my Facebook profile you would have seen me in love and totally blissed out about the guy I was with. But in real life, it was a different story. I unintentionally wove a lie about my unhappy relationship just to keep up appearances online, but I learned the hard way that it was a terrible thing to do.

  1. It was the first time I was so open about a relationship. I hadn’t shared much about my romantic life until now. I was basking in the experience, enjoying posting couple selfies and “I love you” messages with my boyfriend. I enjoyed the positive feedback from people online. But it just wasn’t authentic.
  2. Social media was all about showing off. No one goes on Facebook to post a picture of how crap it is to fight with their partner or how crappy their beach vacation is; it’s all about the good stuff. I had done the same, posting selfies with my then-boyfriend in which we looked like we were having the most fabulous time. Every single day. Talk about unrealistic.
  3. Things had been really great, but… We were happy together for about two months, and then we started to hit some rough patches because we didn’t have much in common. There were so many negative things that didn’t make it onto our Facebook profiles, but to our online friends, we were still happy as ever. “Smile and wave” was my motto.
  4. People’s words made me feel better. I knew that things weren’t right in our relationship, but when people on social media told me how great or perfect we looked, it was just the boost I needed to have hope that our relationship could improve. It was ridiculous because I was basing my real life relationship on the one I’d created online.
  5. It actually put more pressure on our relationship. The ego boost from people’s “likes” and comments didn’t last too long. Thinking that we had to be this perfect couple online soon started to hurt our relationship. I wanted to be that perfect couple, which made me work harder on our relationship. But my boyfriend just wasn’t putting in the same effort.
  6. I wanted people to think I was happy. After that relationship, I realized that I’d wanted to be happy, but more importantly, I’d wanted to be seen as being happy by people online. That had actually been so much more important to me, but obviously much less fulfilling. Instead of focusing on how I could be happy, I was thinking of how people could view me as happy.
  7. It gave me validation. Although we weren’t in a healthy relationship, pretending to be made me feel validated. And I’m not alone. A study that was published in the Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin found that social media enables people to pretend things are good in their relationships, which makes them feel good about themselves.
  8. Things didn’t feel real unless they were posted online. Not posting about our happy times felt like we were cheating ourselves. I reached a point where I thought that something was only real and genuinely good if it was posted on Facebook. It was so sad, looking back. Social media was running the show.
  9. I feared breaking up. I knew that a breakup was coming because the guy was distancing himself from me, but you know what’s embarrassing? I feared a Facebook breakup more than a real life one! I was scared that changing my relationship status from “in a relationship” to “single” after six months would be so terrible. I was terrified that people would see it and feel badly for me or see me as the biggest loser. Again, I was only focused on their opinions when I shouldn’t have cared.
  10. I had to think about myself. I was so preoccupied with Facebook that I was totally forgetting about my real life and what I wanted from it. It was stupid, but this relationship taught me to stop thinking about what others thought of me and start living for myself. Yup, it was time for a social media sabbatical.
  11. I had to face reality. The guy and I went on a mini break as a last attempt to try to make things work. During this relationship vacation, he flirted with another woman. Things were really over. I broke my social media strike to log onto Facebook and delete and block him once and for all! And honestly, no one really cared about the fact that I was single again. I presented it as something wonderful in my life, so that’s exactly how it was taken.  
  12. Social media is powerful. This experience taught me how easily it is to influence people’s thoughts on social media and how easily I can appear to have the perfect life when really it’s far from it. But I didn’t want social media to have such a hold on me. So I decided that I wouldn’t change my relationship status so quickly when dating someone in future. I wanted the world to know I was off the market, but they really didn’t need to see “proof” of a perfect life, because there is no such thing and I really prefer to keep things private. It creates less stress.
  13. I want to be real. I DGAF about social media anymore. I care about my loved ones and want them to experience this crazy, beautiful journey of life with me. That means being real with them and not being afraid to express my emotions. I want to be real, not flawless, because my life is worth so much more than keeping up appearances.
Giulia Simolo is a writer from Johannesburg, South Africa with a degree in English Language and Literature. She has been working as a journalist for more than a decade, writing for sites including AskMen, Native Interiors, and Live Eco. You can find out more about her on Facebook and LinkedIn, or follow her on Twitter @GiuliaSimolo.