By: Gerald DeLeon, ’17, University Health Center Sexual Health Intern
Scrolling through social media keeps us updated on the latest news, trends, and let’s not forget – the UMD Campus Snapchat story! Social media has kept me connected to my friends and family back home with the simple touch of a button. Social media is also home to #RelationshipGoals.
What is #RelationshipGoals?
Relationship goals is a hashtag used by couples to express the things that they do together or want to do together and is used by single folks who long to do those things one day with their future partners. You know, the super cute picture on the beach or perfectly coordinated Halloween costumes. Even though I am in a relationship, #RelationshipGoals made me question my own relationship’s worth because I wasn’t doing any of those things with my partner. Does this mean I am #RelationshipOK or worse, #RelationshipFail? Over time, I realized that I was allowing social media to shape my expectations and standards of what a healthy relationship should look like, and it wasn’t necessarily rooted in reality!
Why #RelationshipGoals doesn’t work for me
While some #RelationshipGoals may be relatable and realistic, others can be impractical and it gave me a serious case of FOMO (Fear of Missing Out)! I was comparing my own relationship with that of the Internet and it took a toll on my emotional wellness. Whether you are in a relationship or riding solo, FOMO is totally normal and we all suffer from it at some point in time. But sometimes, if we are constantly plugged into social media, it can be hard to sit back, relax, and reflect on our own relationship needs and desires. What if I don’t even like dressing up for Halloween? So I’m not even missing out on an epically coordinated costume!
In order to get grounded and get some perspective, this was my 3-step process to shape #MyOwnRelationshipGoals.
- Take a break from social media.
It’s important to practice self-care and one way I know how to do that is to take a break from social media. The trick is to do it gradually. First, I deactivated my Twitter account – but before completely retiring from Twitter, I deleted the app from my phone and checked it occasionally on my laptop. Then I moved on to other social media platforms. Taking a break made me appreciate the people I care about even more and allowed me to interact with the people around me. You don’t have to entirely axe out social media but consider unplugging yourself for a couple of weeks to appreciate your surroundings, to connect with yourself and your friends or partners, and get to know more of your fellow Terps!
- Get in touch with your love language.
Your love language is essentially how you express and like to receive love. I know this may sound really cheesy but discovering my love language actually helped me to better understand what I want and desire in a relationship. According to Dr. Gary Chapman, there are 5 universal love languages and when you are finished reading this post you should take this quiz to discover your love language! The 5 love languages are:
1) Words of affirmation
2) Acts of service
3) Receiving gifts
4) Quality time
5) Physical touch
- Communicate your love language and put it into action.
Once you discover your love language, it’s time that you communicate this with your current or future partner and put it into practice! My love language is quality time and it’s all about giving the other person my undivided attention and spending time with them no matter what we do. So me putting my partner first and getting good time with them is more my style of expressing love than let’s say, buying them gifts (which would be receiving gifts) or telling them how much I love them (which would be words of affirmation). Talking about this with my partner took the mystery out of what I really expected out of them. There are ways we show our love and like to receive our love, is quality time both of these for you? If so, say that and describe what that looks like. Also, did your partner take this quiz? What is their love language? Simply knowing how someone shows and likes to receive love will help you create a healthier and stronger bond with that person.
Knowing and sharing our love languages can also be super helpful in your friendships and maintaining those relationships! You and your bestie(s) can get in touch with your love language so you know how you can better support each other and show love for each other. For example, my bestie likes to receive words of affirmation, so I know that I am being the best friend I can be to them when I give them verbal compliments like, “Wow! That outfit looks great on you!” or words of appreciation like, “I really like how you’re always the first person to check in with me after a rough day.” While it’s a bit different with a romantic or sexual partner, our friendships require similar investment and thought, especially our close ones!
Recognizing your wants and needs in a relationship can sometimes be a difficult process and while these steps were helpful for me it can certainly be different for everyone. Relationships are complex – you don’t have to have it all figured out! But don’t let social media define your relationship or set the standard. You get to set your own standards and expectations and desires. Remember Terps – shape your own relationship goals and #FollowYourBliss.