From the time of my teen years I’ve heard friends complain about how much they want a relationship. Now I’m in my twenties this need has become ever more urgent, with both male and female friends desperately wanting an end to their loneliness – and fast. I’ve always had the same response: Why? Why is this need to be attached to someone so pressing? The daunting thought of growing old alone haunts most of us, and now we’re in our twenties we’re constantly being told that “clock is ticking”. However, by now most of us have experienced love, falling in and out of it, knowing how much fun and grief it really is. We know it’s not easy yet we wish it was, we imagine meeting a partner that has it all and then some. But where is this fantasy coming from and why do we choose to ignore the fact that it takes time to find someone great and build a relationship worth having. Why do we assume it will happen overnight?
Long gone are the days where Hollywood romance influenced our perception of love, enter the rise of modern day technology and social media…
We’re a generation of flaunters; we love to show off what we have on social media and this is especially prominent when it comes to love. We upload photos with out partners, publicise our dates and moments together as if they were major life events. The notorious Facebook relationship status makes the start of a new relationship inescapable as it becomes important news on your Facebook timeline. Furthermore, these relationships appear to happen overnight as we’re not shown the backstory of the couple connecting but the moments after this, adding to the illusion of romance being as instant as social media and contemporary technology. Of course there’s nothing wrong with sharing such moments with your friends and family but where do we draw the line? We all know a few couples that go overboard, showing us every little bit of their relationship; from walking a dog together to what they’ve had to eat every other night… We may scroll past it but that split moment of recognition has an unconscious effect on us.
The more we use sites like instagram and twitter the more we learn about other people’s relationships – or so we think. We follow the tweets expressing how happy they are in love, see the endless snaps of gifts they’ve gotten and places they’ve been together telling us what #relationshipgoals are. But to what extent does this represent a real life relationship?
Those of us who have been in relationships know it’s not all roses; it’s hard work, tears, tantrums, misunderstandings and stress too. For every great moment that’s publicised online there’s an equally terrible one that isn’t. But this censorship of the negative side creates a false sense of what a relationship is in the modern day. Those who have never had a relationship before get sucked into this false depiction, and those who have known better can’t help feeling a twinge of jealousy at seeing these rose-tinted or filtered moments. It is this one-sided presentation which is making more young people ill with feelings of loneliness and envy over the modern day romance.
Although we sometimes get a brief look in to the pain of another couple’s break-up online (via emotional tweets and indirect instagram posts), more often than not this sadness is kept off screen. Apart from a few cases the most common post break-up trend is to delete all evidence of the relationship from the web and pretend like it never happened. This becomes particularly problematic for the couples who overly publicise their relationship as they end up having nothing left on their profiles and so attempt to fill their social media space with moments embracing their new ‘single life’. Whether they’re spending more time out with their friends, or showing off a new outfit these posts are often viewed as an attempt to illustrate a sense of “I’m great, actually I’m so much better off alone!”
Yet, we somehow overlook these happy single moments as being fake in contrast to the previous relationship posts which were deemed perfectly natural. Both instances are fabricated but the difference in our interpretations of each is significant. We assume people are blissfully happy in their relationships and hopelessly sad alone. We want our own slice of happiness and feel that love’s the only way to get it… But it’s not. We need to stop giving #relationshipgoals such precedence and focus on real goals; #personalgoals, #careergoals, #lifegoals.
The online portrayal of romance isn’t real and it’s time we stop pretending it is.