*Note: This is an article I wrote for Harness Magazine, published on July 3, 2017 under my maiden name (Emily Austin). To view this article on the original site, click here.
Regardless of what social media platform you’re on, you’ve definitely seen people talking about #relationshipgoals. This infamous hashtag is almost always accompanied by pictures of flowers, gifts and happy couples. Let me be clear: I have nothing against someone wanting to express their love on social media. I enjoy giving my husband cute little shout-outs every now and then when I’m feeling particularly sentimental. However, there are just a few problems I have when it comes this popular phrase:
- The focus on material possessions. Jewelry, candy, flowers, clothes and even cars, there’s often an emphasis on what your partner can buy you, rather than the actual depth in the relationship. While the occasional gift is nice, goals shouldn’t be about what a guy can buy you, but how well he loves you. Love isn’t measured in possessions – it’s about mutual caring, respect, trust and admiration. A man who loves you unconditionally and despite your flaws is worth so much more than a man who tries to buy your affection with a designer handbag. He could have all the money in the world, but that’s not worth a damn when it comes to love.
- It’s a stab at your current relationship. My husband once said to me, “I wouldn’t really like it if I saw you comment ‘relationship goals’ on something like our relationship isn’t already goals to you.” While you may see it as a harmless and cute way to comment that you approve of someone else’s picture-perfect relationship, it’s a bit insensitive if you’re already romantically involved with someone. It’s like you’re saying to them, “I wish you did this,” or, “I wish you were more like this.” If you aren’t satisfied in your current relationship, you should find someone who is goals to you.
- It downplays the hard work. No one takes pictures of the fights, tears and frustration to highlight on their social media page. We like to show the world only the good in our lives and pretend that everything is effortless. These less than ideal moments aren’t cute for your Instagram feed, but they’re certainly real. My idea of “goals” is whenever my husband and I have a fight but are able to come together and reach a mutual understanding. It’s been years of bliss with him, but it’s also a relationship that’s had its ups and downs and we’re stronger for it.
- Wanting your relationship to be as perfect as someone else’s. We see cookie-cutter photos and wonder why we don’t have a relationship as seemingly flawless as the girl with 20,000+ followers. The beginning of the relationship is always the easiest, but it actually takes time and energy to have a connection that lasts for years and years. Not every moment is going to be a Disney fairytale and you shouldn’t expect it to be.
- Comparing your boyfriend with other people’s boyfriends. Every couple is different and will have varying ideas of what their love means. You shouldn’t be jealous of someone else and wonder why your boyfriend isn’t like the one they have. You’ll drive yourself crazy by internally competing with other couples to prove who’s more in love. If you don’t believe your boyfriend is as good as someone else’s, then one of two things are wrong: 1) He’s not that awesome and you crave something you aren’t currently getting, or 2) you expect too much from him and aren’t communicating what you want from the relationship.
- You take for granted what you already have. We live in an age where we’re constantly looking for the next best thing, swiping through an app to find it. When the initial heat starts to settle and we get comfortable, we often begin to take our partner for granted. Love isn’t just about big romantic gestures – it also involves the little day-to-day things we seldom think about.
- It’s not real. Social media is a way to connect, but it’s also a way to show off our job promotions, superior home decor skills, and even our new bae. We prefer to keep up appearances online, even when life is beginning to run downhill because we all know how unflattering it is to turn your profile into a diary. Someone may have a page full of #relationshipgoals, but that doesn’t make it real.
- When those goals don’t work out. When that couple you looked up to as the #relationshipgoals breaks up, it can be a bit devastating. Cute and quirky YouTube couples wind up having to make their break-ups public and the comments section is full of people so heartbroken you would think they were the ones getting dumped. We wonder, if their seemingly flawless relationship couldn’t work out why should ours be any different? After all, they appeared to love each other more than anything.
- We’re afraid of being honest. No one likes to admit when things aren’t going their way. The most dreaded part of the relationship is the end, but it’s even more upsetting when you have to change that pesky status to single, showing that the relationship wasn’t goals after all. We want to pretend everything is okay and may even fear what other people may think more than the actual break up.
- We should be striving for real goals. I won’t be sharing pictures of guys playing video games while their girlfriend is draped across them reading a book. Instead, I’ll be working on the real goals I have for my relationship, like learning to be more patient or finally mastering the art of saving for our future. After all, those are the goals that will help us build our lives together.