Home relationships Feeling Loved in the Age of Social Media 

Feeling Loved in the Age of Social Media 

by Marianne Navada

There is no question that the age of social media has changed our relationships. There’s a pro for a con. We get to inspire the world with our love story. But we also start comparing our love story to others. As a couple, we might do things for the sake of what looks good on social media, and not what will truly allow us to enjoy each other’s company. 

In the movie Love Actually, Hugh Grant makes a poignant observation about 9/11 and love. When the planes hit the Twin Towers, we didn’t hear calls of hate. Rather, phone calls were made to loved ones, wives, husbands, parents, children… I wonder if nowadays when tragedy strikes, we are more likely to post publicly than contact THAT one person. Sure, posting to our followers or connections will allow us to reach a bigger audience, but what does that say about the most important relationships of our life? Will your loved one receive the same message as everyone else at the same time? How will posting publicly change what we say and how we say it? 

Orange Peels and Ketchup Spills 

I came across a litmus test for love called the Orange Peel Theory, started mostly by women on social media. Basically, a woman asks her partner for an orange, already peeled. The point is to see if the partner will do as asked without question regardless of what they’re doing. And these tests are prolific: from purposely spilling ketchup and asking the partner to clean it up to asking them to look at birds. All share the same endgame: to test if your partner cares about you. Hence, being at your beck and call is a sign of caring. 

I’m sure this is all fun, but what happens when your partner doesn’t peel the orange, or jump at the chance to look at a bird that you pointed to. These challenges, live-streamed, present an opportunity for others to comment on your relationship. It might seem harmless, but I don’t think it is. Comments from strangers on our phone screen can get to us, especially the negative ones. They stick. 

Opportunities and Red Flags

I’m not at all downplaying the importance of the daily little things we do for the people we love. And I understand that participating in these challenges can just be that—fun and games. But they do invite trouble. They are also an opportunity to ask why someone feels the need for a test that gauges love. Is there something missing in the daily interaction that doesn’t make someone feel cared for or listened to?  More than wondering if your partner peeled that orange, it behooves us to ask why we need this challenge in the first place.

The most comprehensive study on happiness shows that of all the things that affect life satisfaction, our relationships predict happiness the most accurately. Letting friends, strangers, and social media followers into your love life can blur the distinction between what makes YOU feel loved in a relationship and what they expect your loved one to do. 

Commit to living.