There comes a point in every relationship where you want to share a picture of your SO on social media.
Perhaps it’s a cute picture of you both at dinner, on holiday or having a drink.
You look good, they look handsome – why not slap on a good filter and show the world that you do occasionally leave your hole?
But then your beau turns around and asks not to be tagged in it.
‘Why not?’ you ask, expecting them to complain about the angle of the selfie.
‘I’m sorry – I just don’t want to upset my ex who might see it’.
Now there’s obviously a timeline of reason here. If there was some ~overlapping~ going on, you may be further along the relationship road that the ex is down the getting-over-it highway.
But at what stage can you reasonably be outraged at your partner putting their ex’s feelings over yours?
And after six months or so, surely no one has a right to feel f*cked over?
So I was baffled when a new partner said they actively didn’t want to be tagged in any photos and didn’t want to upload any of us to social media, months after breaking up with their former lover.
‘Grow a pair. If you’re still worried about your ex then what does that say about you as a couple,’ was one associate’s response when I consulted them.
The situation (both complaining about someone’s lack of Facebook commitment and their actual reticence) seemed ridiculous, insulting – like living with the ghost of girlfriends past.
‘It’s never nice to see an ex moving on but it’s inevitable,’ Sophie, 25, tells our correspondent in the UK.
‘I always delete people I’ve been seeing from Facebook, on the premise that regardless of whether I’m over it or not, I just don’t want to see it.
‘And if you don’t want to upset them and it’s still quite sensitive, then you should have deleted each other when it ended.’
Usually if one of you is at the stage of wanting to show off anything about your relationship, the chances are that you’ve probably been in together for some time.
And a concentration on the partner who was there before you can be a stark reminder that you aren’t the only person to have occupied that space in your SO’s life.
‘If my partner cared more about their ex’s feelings than mine, it’d set off a red signal in my head,’ says Jessica, 23.
‘Obviously, people who are over the top on social media at the beginning of a relationship are quite cringe anyway, but if it’s been a reasonable amount of time then I think it’s dodgy to keep it on the down low’.
And of course, there’s the point that if your current relationship did go further, it’d probably hurt the ex more coming as a bolt out of the blue than if it had been out in the open from the beginning.
Digital censorship of a relationship can make you feel insecure and new. And that is largely down to how much we value social media as a whole. If we cared less about what people posted, we’d analyse our own habits and those of our partners less.
‘People have different approaches to social media interaction, who they invite into their network, what they are prepared to share, how frequently they use it and what they use it for,’ Tamsin Embleton, NHS and private practice psychotherapist tells our correspondent in the UK
‘As a result, there can often be a clash when partner’s approaches don’t quite match up.
‘Perhaps you feel you are ready and excited to announce your relationship and it feels hurtful that your partner has not (spontaneously) made the decision to do that. It may be that this has triggered some feelings of insecurity on your part and you’d like some reassurance.
‘Perhaps it’s making you question how seriously they take the relationship, or perhaps this has lead to you comparing it with their online behaviour from previous relationships.
‘If any or all of these are the case, have a think about what’s going on here and why you feel insecure. Is it purely about your partner’s online behaviour, or is it representative of concerns you have about the relationship more widely? Perhaps it’s more closely related to your own need for reassurance stemming from underlying feelings of inadequacy, low self-worth or fears of judgement from your peers?’
She says that often, this kind of situation leads to people assuming that their partners are ashamed of them, are unwilling to commit or value their previous partners more.
But until you have an open and frank discussion with your SO, nothing is clear.
‘It may be that their reluctance is reasonable once you talk it through, or it may be that they didn’t realise this was so important to you.
‘Try to talk when you feel calm and when emotions aren’t running too high. Also have a think about why the public announcement matters, who it’s really for and what it would bring to you and/or the relationship.
‘Ultimately, you don’t know your partner’s stance until you talk to them about it, and nor can they know how you feel and how important it is to you.
‘Communicate and negotiate with your partner – maybe they don’t feel you, as a couple, are quite ready for a public announcement, or maybe they are happy to tell friends in person but would rather not do it online. Listen to each other, try to understand, weigh up the options and think about what matters to you moving forward.’
As with everything, communication is key. Perhaps it’s just a misunderstanding about social media etiquette, or maybe it’s something deeper. Either way, it’s probably better to face it head on.
And really everyone should be with people willing to shout their names from the rooftops so if it is a case of genuinely valuing someone else’s feelings above yours then it might be time to have a reevaluation.