While your relationship is far more complex than the makeup, kitchen appliance, or movie you were talking about with a friend last week-and all the advertisements you’ve seen for that since-there is an algorithm for everything, and, as a result, a cause and effect that occurs that will affect your relationship through social media.
Ever seen your partner-or maybe ex-partner-endlessly likely pictures of friends, their exes, and others while they seemingly ignore you and your posts on social media?
If the answer is yes, it’s important that I tell you now, it’s not their fault. And these likes are not an expression of their desire to replace you with the people whose pictures they liked.
Social media posts are displayed in a feed that actively relies on a very odd and incredibly old bit of social theory, all of which is now programmed into an algorithm. This theory is that as we early humans were doing our best to survive, we learned that certain traits made our survival more likely. We can break those traits down into two groups, Safety and Connection, both of which work together.
The value of these hardwired instincts, though often forgotten, are becoming a more and more valuable part of how we market to consumers and, in the case of social media, how connected we are online.
In terms of safety, the more connected we are with people the safer we become. It is how we build connection that often differs greatly between men and women.
Men generally seek status by having higher numbers, quantity, of connections. They seek safety in numbers, seek out the approval of many people, and they also recognize levels of status in how many connections they have made versus others, as well as seeking out the approval of those who have greater status than they do. In short, men seek out a multitude of connection, value the connectedness of others, and in turn use the quantity of their and others connections as validation. Much like a the concept of a high school popularity contest, men find their popularity and the popularity of others who they are popular with, as reflective of their safety.
Women, on the other hand, generally seek out deeper, higher quality, connections. Their friends online are also friends offline, and usually their online friendships begin offline. Their friends are not just casual acquaintances, random people they meet, or literal strangers that they only know online, but “real people” with whom they share strong bonds. These quality connections and the approval they receive from their bonded friends create their sense of safety through the strength of that connection within the group.
But, what this algorithm doesn’t take into account, is how to keep the romantic relationship happy despite the difference in how couples are engaging others online. Instead, it focuses on sending an endless stream of what each is independently seeing, quantity and quality, respectively, to keep feeding their sense of connection to their community.
Men get presented with posts that specifically target adding to their quantity of connections.
Women get presented with posts that specifically target adding more quality to their existing connections.
What often gets misinterpreted is how men, liking, commenting, sharing, etc. is saying about their romantic relationship-which is nothing!
To put it into a different context, would you be upset if your male significant other smiled at a stranger behind a counter, a server at a restaurant, or someone they randomly pass on the street? Not flirted with, not had sex with, not cheated on you with, but simply smiled at?
You wouldn’t, most likely, have any problem with them smiling at a stranger. And, online, that’s fundamentally what they are doing. Smiling through a button, through some text, through a share.
Yet, so many fights in relationships start over a partner’s online behavior, focusing both on being ignored, on not receiving likes while liking others content, and fear that all this means that your partner is looking to leave you, when, in fact, what they are doing is little more than smiling at strangers in public.
Though thwarting these algorithms is no easy task, what you can do to help both of you feel more connected in your relationship while online, is to ensure you’re tagging each other in posts you want them to see, like, comment, and/or share; as well as marking each other as favorites on your respective profiles.
What can complicate matters is also that you share space. Part of this algorithm for producing feed content also focuses on geographic location and can either increase, or decrease, the number of posts one sees in their current geographic proximity. Whereas one may see more posts for a local concert, one may also see less posts from people they share space with.
Additionally, you can also find that online connection is easily made and broken based on whether or not you keep liking what you see. Be shown a post and not like, share, or comment and the algorithm will quickly decide you’re tired of seeing content like that, from this person, or want to see something different.
While not fool proof, the more one makes intentional connection with one’s significant other through tags, favoriting, and conscious effort to like, share, and comment, the more it should help to elicit behavior that each of you want without leaving either of you feeling as though you are lacking connection or like the connection you have is less significant, meaningful, and beneficial than you’d like.
Don’t forget, my schedule is below, so you’ll know when we can connect to help you find the romantic connection you desire!
This Week’s Schedule
Please Note: All times listed below are Eastern Standard Time.
- 1:00am-6:00am (Friday)
- 11:00pm-6:00am (Saturday)
- 11:00pm-6:00am (Sunday)
- 11:00pm-6:00am (Monday)