Although a wildly insignificant number of people in the world read my blog, I still experience this great fear when I consider the prospect of writing about my relationships. And this goes for a relationship with any person, be they parent, sibling, friend, or partner.
The relationship you have with an individual person is so special and intimate that it feels almost like a betrayal of trust for me to write about more personal aspects of it for the scrutiny and criticism of third parties. I’m more than willing to be critical of myself alone (If you offer your own worst stories, no one has any blackmail on you.) but I want to protect the privacy of my loved ones.
Molly Yeh captured this sentiment best when she wrote about introducing her “super special manfriend” to the digital world: “‘do you want to be a part of my internet presence?’ is not a third date thing or a fourth date thing.”
Of course, Molly’s internet presence is also about 894% greater than mine if we’re calculating by Instagram followers, so the stakes are much higher for her manfriend-turned-husband if he agrees to become part of her internet presence.
And then there’s the commentary: “Hate to point out the obvious, Courtney, but you’ve already been guilty of writing about the people in your life, especially your significant other, since forever.”
Yes, anecdotes about my weekends and my general frame of thinking have high probabilities of including at least one mention of that hooman because he is, at present, arguably one of my favorite hoomans to be with, so his cameo statistics are very high.
That being said, however, I know that when I write about my relationships — particularly my romantic relationships — online, I have an inclination to paint a picture that looks as envious as everyone’s Coachella or #yolkporn shots look on Instagram. (Only in my case, I’d post something edging on being hipster, accompanied by a caption that reads with a hint of sarcasm and an inside joke.)
This, along with being way too oogly moogly (to borrow more phraseology from Molly Yeh), are things I know I have a tendency of doing. You do not need to look far on my social media to know that I am guilty as charged.
When I first read this week’s “Modern Love” column on The New York Times, I was initially a little unmoved and unimpressed. But the more distance I took from it, the more I realized that I’d made the mistake of doing something similar on not just my Instagram, but also my Facebook and my blog.
It is hugely unexpected and uncomfortable to make the transition from constantly showcasing the good of your relationship to suddenly bringing out the loaded, heavy questions. When it came down to it, I kept choosing not to mention the deeper things. It wasn’t something I had an easy time handling in my own mind, where there are a minimum of 20 thoughts floating around at any given moment, so how could I expect anyone else to follow me at the same rate?
Drawing out and focusing on the Instagrammable parts of my relationship inevitably put a constant filter on my own mind to sort out the things that were “bad” and potentially criticizable in my relationship. I didn’t want to ruin the aesthetic, so to speak.
If you’re waiting for any dirty details, don’t hold your breath — you’re not getting any, at least, not here. I prefer to channel Molly Yeh rather than Taylor Swift when it comes to handling my personal relationships, but I do think there is a lot to be said about how people navigate their relationships, especially in an age when social media is so influential in both positive and negative ways.
Focusing more heavily on the “good” or the “bad” in a relationship is never going to solve any problems. I also agree with my friends when they tell me, there is a limit to how much time you can spend talking about the “problems” because if that’s all a relationship is going to be, there’s really not much life that can be lived anymore.
Too much of any thing is never good, and after going through the experience of fixing my first smashed car window I strongly agree with the classic Beauty and the Beast quote, “If it’s not baroque, don’t fix it.”