When you first start dating someone, there is a list of topics you should discuss regarding relationship boundaries: how much PDA you're each comfortable with, how often you should sleep over if they have roommates, and so on. In this day and age, though, there's one more conversation to add to the list — guidelines for posting about your relationship on social media. Because Instagram is such a big part of everyday life in 2018, it's important to address the proper etiquette. If you're worried about the fact that your significant other hasn't posted pictures of you on Instagram, you shouldn't be afraid to talk about it with them. But before you demand that they post a photo of the two of you to their feed, you should think about the reasons why you're so upset that they haven't.
I spoke to Bianca L. Rodriguez, Ed.M, LMFT, a licensed marriage and family therapist, about strategies for expressing your desire to be posted about on Instagram in a way that isn't accusatory or petty. There are plenty of valid reasons why your partner might want to keep your picture off of their Instagram page during the early stages of your relationship, so don't automatically assume it's a red flag. If you still want to ask your boyfriend or girlfriend why they haven't posted any pictures of you on Instagram, here's the right way to do it.
"There's something so precious about the beginning of a relationship. [It's] new and infantile and it's also very vulnerable ... like a baby. And I think there's some wisdom in protecting it from the elements," says Rodriguez. While you may want to scream about it from the rooftops, you don't yet know where this relationship is headed. Before you put it out there, you want to be sure that your relationship has a solid foundation. Otherwise, it could crack under the pressure of the public eye.
On Instagram, people post their highlight reels. Real relationships have ups and downs, but you don't always see that on social media. By posting about your relationship, you now have another responsibility. Not only are you both trying to get to know the other person and deal with your own fears and insecurities, but now you have the additional pressure of keeping up your Instagram persona as a couple. That can be really stressful on a new relationship.
Know that if you do choose to go public with your relationship, you're opening yourself up to feedback from family, friends, exes, and even strangers. This can create more pressure, cloud your judgment, and lead to conflict. "When you put things out to the Instagram world, people project all their sh*t on it, and then if it doesn't work out, everybody's asking you questions and you feel like an idiot," says Rodriguez. Before you subject your relationship to other people's opinions and expectations, you should be completely sure that this is the best choice for the relationship — not just for your ego.
If you still want to bring it up, Rodriguez suggests approaching it as a general question like, "How do you feel about posting relationship photos on social media? How have you dealt with that in the past?" When it is posed as an open-ended question, it's not all about you. "You're in the early part of dating and want to get to know them, and everybody has a different relationship with social media. Some people love it, some people hate it, some people are on it all the time, some people are not," she says. "A spirit of curiosity goes a long way in any conversation."
Ask your partner when they think the appropriate time is to post about your relationship on social media. Be open to whatever their answer is. By understanding where they're coming from, you're approaching the issue from a point of compassion rather than selfishness.
If you're worried about how your SO will react, remember that it's OK to be a little vulnerable. Your partner might not be as into Instagram as you are. Maybe they've never posted about a relationship on social media before. Just tell them how you feel.
"I always recommend using an 'I' statement: 'I feel blank.' Like, 'I'm feeling a little weird that you haven't posted [about] me yet on social media,'" says Rodriguez. She says that the closer you are, the more honest you can be. You don't want to come off as too intense at the beginning of the relationship. "I would say maybe wait until you're exclusive and you feel like you're going to commit to each other for however long it's going to last. If you're just dating and [having] fun, maybe you wait [to post]," says Rodriguez.
There's no "right" time to post about your boyfriend or girlfriend on Instagram. It's up to you as a couple, but having an open and honest conversation about social media early on can prevent unnecessary conflict down the road.
This post was originally published on June 27, 2018. It was updated on Aug. 19, 2019 by Elite Daily Staff.