Dating. It’s rouuuuugh out there.
I struggle a lot with how much to share. My rule is basically that I’m an open book… when it comes to things that are only about me. Honestly, I don’t really share dating stories here. I mean think about it, if you were a guy (or a girl) dating a “social media personality,” how would you feel, having your life broadcasted to a bunch of strangers on the internet? I would soooo not be into that, so I try to be really respectful of anyone I date, same goes for my friends. Sometimes I will put them on my blog or instagram stories but it’s always with their consent ahead of time. Also it would also be awful to introduce you guys to a new person and then have it not work out. So I keep my dating life pretty private.
But dating is definitely a hot topic over here. My “how to be single” post was really popular and the impetus for the Facebook group. And anytime I show even a man’s arm (seriously, this happens) on my Instagram story, y’all are after me, asking if that is my boyfriend. I’m not even exaggerating. I was in Cartagena on vacation this past Spring with a group of friends, one of whom was male. I got at least 20 DM’s asking if he was my boyfriend, congratulating me on having a boyfriend (is that really something worth of congratulations?) or saying we were cute together (the photo I was posting was a group photo?) LOL. It’s weird. And the Internet is weird. So for now at least, my personal life is going to stay personal.
I’m getting off topic now. This little rambling is all to introduce you to a new contributor… YAY!
Clara is a New York based dating and relationships coach. And a good friend. We met years and years ago when I was still at BaubleBar and she was working with Jess Lively. Since then we’ve both had all sorts of things happen in our lives. We both had big breakups, we both left our jobs to follow a more entrepreneurial route, we both got really into yoga, I could go on.
She is a wealth of information (and I love her real-talk, humorous but still heartfelt approach to helping women). You may remember her recent piece in The Cut on dating without texting… I know I did, EVERYONE in my social media feeds was talking about it! Clara has graciously agreed to write a series of guest posts here. I love this as it will let us have an honest conversation about dating… with an advice from an actual EXPERT (bc I have no idea what I’m doing!)
In a few weeks she’ll be answering all your questions around dating. Just post them in the comments section below. Or, if you feel more comfortable emailing, send them to me at email@example.com. (BIGGEST thanks to Clara for doing this!!)
Sidebar: even if you are not dating, these boundaries are helpful for anyone with an Instagram account!
How to Set Social Media Boundaries in Dating
I looooove me some mindless time on my phone. After a long day of work and just before I’m ready to wind down for the evening, I relish that quiet time where I get to catch up on my feed. It’s a fun and relaxing escape, permitted it doesn’t turn into an hour long rabbit hole of mindless scrolling. And occasionally, it definitely does. I put off reading or taking a bath or having an actual conversation with my boyfriend — all things that would much better nourish me — simply to see what the friend from high school who I haven’t actually spoken to for years had for breakfast.
It’s not new news that our relationship with our phones and social media is deeply complicated and often detrimental. What are we absorbing? What are we putting out there? How is it making us feel? What better way could we be spending our time?
As a dating coach, I work with women to craft a fresh approach to their dating life in order to help manifest the partnership they desire. Sometimes that means taking an intentional break, other times that means developing strategies for meeting people in person. Regardless of the focus of our work, it always includes helping women understand their own behavior that’s contributing to their current dating experience feeling so miserable. More often that not social media plays a role. A big role.
Below are the tips I share with each client when it comes to setting social media boundaries in dating. That said, even if you’e not dating, these boundaries are helpful for anyone with an Instagram account. Let’s dive in!
Monitor Your Pre-Date Stalking
A few years ago I mustered up the courage to say hello to a guy on the subway. We chatted comfortably for the remainder of our ride and ended up exchanging numbers. A few weeks later we had our first date. Before the date I spent an embarrassing amount of time unearthing a ton of information about him. I knew his entire work history and I knew what his ex-girlfriend looked like and where she lived in Brooklyn. Also, I knew they had two dogs that they’d rescued from Tennessee, that they’d driven back to Brooklyn. I knew they had white bedding. I knew she was a clothing designer.
None of this information was actually helpful or necessary for our first date. It only served to make me more nervous for our first date. I’d both wasted a ton of time and made for a less fun night out. Beautiful. Do yourself the favor of starting with a clean slate. And if you find your hands leading you to Google or Facebook, take a deep breath and find something far more productive to do.
Watch Your Social Media Assumptions
I once had a guy un-match with me on Bumble after viewing my Instagram profile. He asked for my handle and shortly thereafter his name disappeared from my list of matches. I can only assume he wasn’t a fan of what he saw. Also, I didn’t take the guy’s actions personally. I was grateful. That type of judgment speaks volumes about his character. But the truth is my feed is a curated story of my life. It is representative of a brand. It doesn’t contain many photos of my family or my dirty laundry pile. It’s a collection of content I’m personally comfortable sharing with the world. It’s not a whole picture of me.
So often though, we forget that. We see a blogger with a beautiful outfit and think her life is absolutely perfect. We see a couple smiling at one another and think their relationship must be flawless. Or we view the profile of someone we like and see them out with other girls and think….does he like them? Is he attracted to them? Will he be attracted to me? Take your feed for what it is, a curated story. A story that can be fun and interesting and inspiring, but a story nonetheless.
Slow Your Role On Following
Five years ago I ended a seven year relationship with my college boyfriend. We’d lived together for three of those years. I was on his health insurance plan. We’d traveled the world together and spent holidays with each other’s families. We’d talked baby names. We thought we’d spend our lives together.
The breakup was brutal and took years to move beyond. But one of the most crucial things we did right after ending our relationship was unfollow each other on social media. The thought of seeing him out and about with friends or worse yet, with a new girl, was excruciating. I didn’t have to pretend that wasn’t happening, but at the very least I could protect my eyes from the visual image of it. I also knew myself – that type of information was very triggering for me. And I certainly wouldn’t have the self control to not look.
But I didn’t always set those boundaries in dating. I’d stalk and follow in between every interaction. I gave the weight of the world to every like and engagement with my feed. The bigger the crush, the bigger the meaning I attributed to their digital action. We may not have had our next date scheduled but I was sure that his Instagram like meant he wanted to be with me. Right? Wrong. The only way to know if someone wants to be with you or get to know you better is to share you true feelings about them. To be vulnerable. There’s no way around it. I tried to go around it many a time (aka to not be vulnerable), but it never brought me closer to the actual partnership.
Don’t Curate Too Hard.
In 2014 I got really into yoga. Several months in, I finally started to nail some balancing postures, or inversions as they’re officially called. One in particular was pretty impressive. I could balance on just my hands and shoot one leg up and I was legit.
I decided I wanted to create a video for Instagram showing me doing this pose. One day at the gym I positioned the video camera against the wall and filmed myself performing the sequence. Also, I spent a ridiculous amount of time figuring out how to put the video to rap music and posted it to my feed. I’d be lying if I said I just posted it because I was proud of my progress as a yogi. That I’d somehow deepened my practice. Hell no. I definitely wanted to show off, both to my potential suitors and past ones that had bailed on me.
We all do that, and we do it often. This isn’t a judgement. But when dating, it’s important to be extra weary of the intention behind your content. We all what to impress others, but are you hoping to get out of it? What expectations do you have? It’s cool to post a badass yoga video, just make sure you’re not expecting someone to ask you on a date because of it.
I hope all of this was helpful! I work with women all over the world, so if you’re interested in dating and relationships support, I’d love to hear from you! Shoot me a message on Instagram or email at firstname.lastname@example.org. Dating can be hard, but not as hard as you think.