Emerge Magazine 2017
Photo by Danielle Tocher/EMERGE

The #RelationshipGoals phenomenon

You log onto your favourite social media app, whether it’s Instagram or Facebook, and scroll down your feed to see numerous pictures of couples taking selfies, using the hashtag #relationshipgoals.

Is it really what it seems to be? Young lovers Valerie Hodess and Mike Dowling said that their relationship posts are in fact a product of their relationship lifestyle.

“We like to just show our happy times together because that’s how we are most of the time, we want to show people we are in love,” said Hodess.

Everyone has their own views on relationships and their own intentions in relationships.

Hodess and Dowling’s Instagram profiles are filled with pictures of one another, as well as food pictures, as Hodess said she enjoys sharing fun moments like those with others.

On the topic of what using #relationshipgoals is meant for them, Dowling said: “The hashtag #relationshipgoals could be biased for everyone, everyone has their own views on relationships and their own intentions in relationships.”

“‘Relationship goals’ means to us what we would want in a relationship or seen someone else do that is cute and we would like, as opposed to something we don’t like, for example abuse or cheating,” said Hodess. “Anything negative is definitely not relationship goals, fights are bound to happen in any relationship but obviously no one wants them.”

Dowling also said that they only make positive posts of each other, because posting about fights or disagreements would make their private problems public. “From our perspective it’s just to protect us, if we expose ourselves not getting along it would look like we’re not happy together because that’s how people look at things, they like to judge and focus on the negatives,” he said.

Television relationship expert Nicole McCance said that posting about relationships on social media is a social norm now, but that there are ways in which it can be done to avoid negative responses.

For example, keeping the posts to just once a week gives enough freedom for you to share an update on your relationship without annoying followers who don’t have an interest in your relationship. “Anything more than that is like ‘why are you trying so hard?’” she said.

McCance said that there are both positive and negative implications to doing this, but it all depends on if the couple is okay with facing the possibly of the negative ones. She noted that one possible negative outcome of a relationship that’s all over social media is the possibility of a breakup. “It’s going to have to be a public breakup,” she said.

It’s natural, if you’re really happy and you want to shout it from the rooftops.

“It’s natural, if you’re really happy and you want to shout it from the rooftops,” said McCance, adding that it is okay to make a relationship post you feel excited about sharing.

As to the positive aspects, McCance said posting your love life can help others rekindle the flame in their relationships.“It works both ways,” she said. “It can be inspiring to some people to go on a date. So let’s say they see you all the time on dates and then they’re more likely to turn their partner and say ‘Hey, when’s the last time we went to the beach?’” When couples aren’t posting about their relationship it can leave others feeling curious, she added.

For those who are single, McCance said that social media isn’t the best environment for them when their feeds are flooded with #relationshipgoals posts. “If you’re not in a relationship, there’s really not a lot of inspiration happening,” she said. For some, it may bring up memories of an ex or a crush.

She advises people who are fresh out a breakup to avoid going on social media. “Your life’s okay until you check out what’s going on on social media and everybody seems to be having a better time, because we naturally compare ourselves.”

But at the end of the day, it is up to each couple to decide what keeps them happy. McCance’s advice to those debating on whether or not they should make that #relationshipgoals post is: “Be who you are,” she said. “If you’re really happy, capture that and share it.”

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Kristina Ramcharran

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Kristina lives her life a quarter page at a time. And when she’s not writing, she’s usually just eating. Car shows and concerts are her weaknesses.

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