This past spring, after an excruciating family outing to the opera, my uncle and I discussed the "waiting three days to call someone" rule. As we sat in his car, I pictured myself years from now, sharing stories about becoming Instagram official with my brother's kids. I wondered if there would ever be a universally agreed upon amount of time for couples to wait before posting about their relationships. In fact, I wondered if there already is.
Oftentimes, the "rules of dating" are really just arbitrary timelines. Wait three days to call someone. Wait two dates to sleep with them. Wait six months to say "I love you." Call me a Charlotte (don't @me, she's iconic), but love has no timeline — especially not a universal one. There's no one-time-fits-all answer to when you and your boo are ready to take the next step in your relationship, whether it's going on your first date or posting your first pic together.
And so, in my pursuit of unlearning all these "dating rules" I asked six couples to spill the real tea on their first Insta together, and what they said isn't arbitrary at all.
This is our first posted photo together. Jack asked me to attend the Grad Holiday Ball. It was at the Museum of Science and Industry, and a friend of ours snapped this photo in front of one of the many Christmas trees. We definitely asked for this photo because it was an beautiful environment and a fun memory! Later on, I asked him if I could post it on IG and he agreed. It’s embedded in my review post of 2018 as the last photo. We were pretty exclusive at this point but didn’t declare our official relationship status until a few weeks later. Don’t be afraid to document your budding romance it’s a part of your life just as much as friends and other social activities!
— Aneesah, 25
So, we had been dating for a week and she was like, 'Do you want to go to SF pride with me as my girlfriend?' And I was like, 'Yes.' We sat in Dolores Park people watching with glitter on our faces all day. And that night she told me she loved me. The caption is because we were making fun of Pride as a concept and people who say things like, 'Love is love,' as if relationships are the center of queer oppression and not, like, our right to exist. And that was the year gay marriage was legalized. It was all new and both of our first like real lesbian relationships so we were all over each other! Our friend came with us and they were like ugh. I think I asked if I could post it? I'm so much more into social media than she is, so I try not to take offense that I post more often that her.
— Mckenna, 24
We were getting ready for a gala at school, with a group of our friends. Everyone knew we were together, even though we hadn't DTR'd. My friend had brought a polaroid camera and was taking pictures of everyone together. My partner pulled me next to him and asked if we could get one together. I was so happy he had asked! I was so nervous to post that picture, but since we had already been on our first date, I thought it would be okay. He didn't have a problem with it!
— Iman, 24
Here’s my first Instagram post with my boyfriend. We had been dating about a month. We met because he was in a band and my friends and I happened to crash their practice while hiking in the woods. When this picture was taken. we were on a photo shoot for the band's new single 'What My Baby Wants.' Tyler, his guitar player and photographer, the friend who was the model, and I snuck into pebble beach to take photos. In between shots for the band, his guitar player took this shot of us. Tyler sent the picture to me and suggested we both post it on our timelines and see who could add the most ridiculous hashtags. So, we did. I think he won.
I had just gotten out of a bad relationship and didn’t like labels, although we were exclusive and not hiding the fact we were dating. I think his texting and hashtag game was a cute idea, but also a way to check in with me and make sure we were on the same page. After that we just posted whatever of each other, whenever. That was almost five years ago. We are still together and just had a kid.
— Emma, 22
My boyfriend and I had been together for about two and a half months when I first posted a photo of us together. I had a big public speaking opportunity through work, and my boyfriend and friends all came to support me. The day before, I had actually asked one of my friends to snap a photo of me and my boyfriend, because I wanted to be IG official but was a little nervous to initiate the actual process of taking a photo. She was so natural about it — bumping into us and saying like, 'Wait, you two look so cute here, let me take a pic!' (and then taking a dozen pics). I remember feeling so awkward and confused about, like, what to do with my arms. I asked my boyfriend if I could post it, and he said yes. It was definitely a way bigger deal to me than to him, since he's not really that into social media.
— Hannah, 26
From living together for a year to DTRing after a week, there is no established timeline for becoming Instagram official. However, it can be important to check in with people before posting their picture, as a gesture of respect for their boundaries. And if you're excited about your relationship, you never need to hide your feelings. Being in love is a beautiful thing and sharing your happiness with the world around you is timeless.