Mars Venus Coaching talks about social media and relationships. Today we use social media like FaceBook, MySpace, LinkedIn, and Twitter to check on the lives of many people whom we call family and “friends.” Our relationships run the gamut of son or daughter, to best friends from high school, college drinking buddies, alumni, acquaintances, co-workers, bosses, exes, and the nebulous is he or isn’t she my boyfriend/girlfriend? Does this mean we are more socially adept than our grandparent’s time, because we have a wider circle of “friends?” Or do we need a reality check on what it is we’re doing when we use social media to communicate with others?
The simplest way to make sure your posts are not misinterpreted is to always be congruent. Make sure your thoughts match your feelings, which then match your actions (or posts). The same goes with whoever you’d like to be dating (or to be friends with too). If there is not congruency, then the ocean is as wide as it is deep as far as room for misinterpretation, disagreements, hurt feelings, and fights goes. Unless you “like” the drama, social media should enhance being able to stay connected to those people important to you, not make it a melting pot for spats, confusion, and emotional turmoil.
Pay Attention to ME, not How Are YOU?
There is also a very interesting phenomenon going on when we post content about our lives online. Our purpose of posting is not to connect with other people; it is to update them about what we are doing. It’s all about us. It is typically one-way communication, and very me-centered. People reply based on whether or not they see the post, and if they feel like writing, or clicking on a button saying they “like” your status. There is no social etiquette that says if we read a post we have to comment. The “like” status saves us the trouble of finding something witty to say…but what else? Wiggle room to believe what we want?
Let me ask that a different way. What does it mean when someone who you’ve been casually dating, “likes” your status? Need more background? Currently you are not hanging out, because you’re giving each other space to date other people. The agreement was somewhat mutual. The assumed meaning behind the “like” could change depending on whose turn it is to come out of the cave (guys) or to check back in after spending time connecting with the girls. Most likely it is different depending on your sex. It could also be different based on the intention behind checking on the other person.
“Liking” is Different for Guys and Girls
For guys…during the getting-to-know you phase when you still may be dating other girls, and you’re not yet exclusive—it could mean, hey, I’m thinking of you, don’t count me out yet.
For girls…during the getting-to-know you phase when you still may be dating other guys, and you’re not yet exclusive—even though she’s just curious, and wants to let him know she’s thinking of him. He could interpret this differently, because of your agreement to give each other space. A guy may interpret this as an intrusion on his space, when he’s still trying to figure out if he’s into you.
In the past I’ve suggested using texting to make plans to meet up, or to send thinking of you thoughts. Basically—anything that does not involve complex emotions. If we question how something can be interpreted, don’t send it via text. Instead, wait to talk face to face or at worst, over the phone. I’d suggest similar method’s when using social media. Especially if you are posting content that is visible to many different “friends.” If it can be misinterpreted, or if you’re trying to insight jealousy—don’t do it. You may have to ask yourself as well if that is the kind of relationship you want to be in—one that is not based on trust and honesty.
Jealousy or Hurt Feelings on Sale
People are still people. We get most, or 93%, of our cues from nonverbal communication—meaning facial expressions, intonation, posture, eye contact, how close someone stands to us, even how they smell. There are also subtle ways we portray our nonverbal thoughts and emotions based on our culture, upbringing, religion, ethnicity, and gender. You cannot pick this up online. All you have is words, and with a word limit too!
The bottom line is when someone only communicates they “like” our status, we cannot make assumptions on our relationship status. Likewise, if you only text someone, or just connect via social media, we cannot interpret these interactions as having a relationship. The relationship and dating status comes from time spent together.
Quality Time Together Cements the Status
Spend time dating to see if you are compatible emotionally, intellectually, spiritually, and lastly—physically. You’ll get your answer from the face to face time where you do things together, with each other’s friends, co-workers, and family. Until you get to that point, you’re only guessing when someone “likes” your status. And, you won’t know the answer until he or she makes another date with you. Only then can you examine your assumption and see if it was correct. When in question—see someone in person.