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Home>Don’t Blame Twitter—How TMI Can Kill Any Relationship

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Don’t Blame Twitter—How TMI Can Kill Any Relationship

Online Dating
The old prohibition against “kissing and telling” carries tremendous weight in a society where reputations can be destroyed in 140 characters or less. Numerous celebrities have damaged their public image by providing too much information (TMI) online about their love lives. Even for those of us who are not famous, the consequences of over-sharing online can be equally severe.

Posting to social media provides instant gratification and a universal platform for sharing our thoughts, feelings and opinions. But with immediate gratification comes immediate consequences. Revisiting some timeless rules of etiquette, revamped for the digital age, could save both your reputation and your relationship:

Old Relationship Rules for New Media

  • Remember who’s reading
    Don’t forget who might be reading your posts—friends, family, your boss and even prospective partners; don’t risk losing their respect. Locking down your privacy settings can help, but the digital grapevine has kinks and can be as damaging as the traditional one.
  • Avoid online “locker room” talk
    Whether you are male or female, bragging about your sexual exploits is tacky. Even if you don’t “name names,” people often know who you are talking about.
  • Friends don’t let friends post drunk
    Make sure you are clear and sober before you post anything.
  • Don’t take compromising photos of yourself
    You never know when and where they’ll pop up.
  • Don’t post compromising photos of others
    Before you upload or tag a photo of someone else, ask yourself if the person would find it embarrassing, incriminating or even unflattering; posting inappropriate pictures of others makes you look like a jerk. If in doubt, ask permission before posting the picture.
  • Beware the “Relationship Status” button on Facebook
    A seemingly simple classification system—Single, In a Relationship, Married, etc.—can be surprisingly complicated to navigate (especially if your relationship is in flux). There’s even a classification called “It’s Complicated.” But anyone you are dating is likely to be sensitive to if and when you update this all-important component. You don’t technically have to list your relationship status, but even that can raise questions. There’s no perfect solution, just be aware of what you are trying to communicate and how it could be interpreted.
  • Save the pillow talk for pillow time
    Reserve pet names and private messages for private outlets.
  • Don’t use social media as a weapon of revenge
    Slamming a bad date or an ex online smacks of poor taste—and insecurity.
  • Acknowledge the immortal nature of the internet
    Remember and respect the everlasting nature of things posted online.
  • Don’t use social media to harass, ridicule or intimidate an ex or anyone else
    Your words can wound … and you could potentially face a lawsuit.
  • Never use social media to notify your partner about a shift in your relationship
    This is not junior high. If you want to break up with someone, summon your courage and do it the old fashioned way—in person.
  • Take a time-out
    Don’t be too hasty in posting your thoughts, especially if you are angry.
  • Don’t be a stalker
    Yes, people “lurk” a little on social media—just don’t spend all day peering in someone’s virtual window, especially if you aren’t close to the person in real life.
  • Avoid making new online ties with your exes
    If you are in a serious relationship, it is probably best to break all online ties with your exes. At the very least, avoid establishing new online connections or communications with them.
  • If you really must communicate with an ex, make sure your partner is aware
    Don’t engage in covert communications with an ex; you may leave a digital trail resulting in broken trust.
  • Make joint decisions with your partner about the type of information you will share online
    If you are in a relationship, discuss with your partner what topics about each other or your relationship are taboo for sharing online, then stick to those guidelines.
  • Gauge your online instincts with a “real-life” test
    It is easy to be a little brazen online since you are relatively shielded from real-world confrontation; ask yourself if you would communicate the same way face-to-face.
  • Unplug once and a while
    Excessive preoccupation with anything can become unhealthy—especially if it makes your partner feel neglected. Take an occasional break from social media to make sure you aren’t addicted.

Social media is meant to bring people together, not drive them apart. But the same relationship rules that apply everywhere else—respect, good manners and discretion—also apply to social media interactions.