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Managing Social Media and Relationships

By , 17, Staff Writer Originally Published: June 21, 2024 Revised: June 28, 2024

As a teen, it can seem like a large percentage of our lives are based around apps like TikTok, Instagram and Snapchat—for better or worse. But what we don’t always realize is that not only has social media changed the way the world operates, it’s changed our relationships and the way we see ourselves as well.

Social media can help people make friends and meet new people, but it can also instill insecurity and jealousy. It’s important to find a balance between enjoying social media and forming relationships in real life!

Is This A Relationship?

Sure, Snapchat is a way for us to talk with our friends and see what they’re doing. But it’s also true that many of us use Snapchat as a way to get romantically involved with someone without actually committing to a relationship.

It’s no fun getting left on delivered or opened by somebody. You can’t just leave someone on delivered in real life! But on social media, you can. It’s also common to only talk to someone online at night or outside of school, but once you actually meet each other in person, it’s as if nothing’s happened. This can create a sense of confusion and insecurity, wondering what the relationship truly is.

While meeting someone online and having a relationship can be fine, it’s not always the case.

Meeting Online Vs. Real Life

Meeting somebody on social media can feel completely different from meeting someone in person. “On social media you can really see someone’s personality on their page before talking to them so it might be a bit easier (to talk to them),” says Zach (he/him), 17, of Old Bridge, NJ. “In person, you really have to talk to the person and genuinely get to know them.”

While it’s a good idea to learn how to talk to people in real life and “get to know them,” that can cause anxiety at first. Social media has made it easier at times to find people who have things in common. In real life, it’s not always as easy to find that initial connection with someone (although it’s still possible and a good idea!). People who are shy or have trouble easily building connections may find it harder to make friends in person.

While online can be a great way of connecting with people who have the same interests as you, a goal should still be leaning how to connect with others in real life, too! (Of course, it’s important to always get to know someone online and make sure it’s safe to meet up with them in real life, too. If you don’t already know them offline, take precautions like meeting in a public place and not being alone.)

Impact on Self-Image

Social media can sometimes negatively affect how people feel about themselves, whether meeting people romantically or not. “I definitely felt feelings of inferiority or not being good enough,” says Premrudee (she/her), 17, of Samutprakarn, Thailand. “But I also remind myself that what’s online isn’t always real, or at least not the whole truth.”

Social media is not always what it seems, and people sometimes present a persona that is seen as “socially accepted.”

Social media is not always what it seems, and people sometimes present a persona that is seen as “socially accepted.” You may feel insecure when scrolling through. It’s important to realize that not everything posted on social media is the whole story. It’s even more important to realize that you don’t have to compare yourself to others online to feel comfortable in your own skin.

In A Relationship—Now What?

Social media can also foster feelings of mistrust and suspicion. You might feel jealous of a partner liking someone else’s Instagram story. They might be bothered by you following someone they’re not comfortable with.

It’s essential to communicate openly, address miscommunications and build trust as opposed to being too jealous or controlling. “I’m not super controlling or anything but I do think things like following a ton of girls that you don’t know in real life or using social media as your main form of meeting people romantically is a bit of a red flag,” says Aine (she/her), 16, of Alexandria, KY.

Social media can also change the way you view your relationship, especially with influencers on apps such as Instagram and TikTok posting about their relationships. This can easily make us feel that our love life is lacking in some way.

“My ex used social media to fuel his misapprehensions of me,” says Kaityln (she/her), 16, of North Plainfield, NJ. “His favorited TikTok videos consisted of guys recovering from their girlfriends’ cheating and sharing their common misconceptions of women and how terrible they can be….he couldn’t trust his own opinions and instead turned to the toxicity of social media.”

Again, it’s important to know that on social media, people often only post what they see as “perfect” or popular. It’s often not an accurate description of what their life or relationships are really like. It’s important to maintain a balance between what you see on social media and how you act in real life, and it’s especially important to remain open with your partner and talk if there is an issue!

A Foundation of Trust

Building a foundation of trust and respect is good for any relationship. Try to communicate openly and honestly with partners, even if it’s hard. Check out our communication tool for hints!

Being a teenager can be difficult no matter what and feelings like insecurity and jealousy are nothing new. But social media adds a whole new layer. Whether you’re in a relationship or not, it’s important that you establish boundaries with your partners and friends and make sure you’re also spending time together offscreen!

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