Real-life relationships on the internet
I followed a girl and boy on Instagram about a year ago because I enjoyed seeing photos about their relationship as a couple.
The boy was a photographer in his spare time and posted a lot of his professional photography as well as more personal photos. Both he and his girlfriend posted photos of their relationship and they both had no shame for the fact that they loved to go out and eat. The girl didn’t post photos often.
The boy wrote many words of love for the girl in the captions for his photos. It was obvious that he really cared about her and loved her. She was supportive of him and his work, even though it sometimes required them to be apart for several months. They spent a lot of time together when he returned home from some time away, and she was the first person he saw.
Although I don’t have my eyes on my Instagram feed all the time, recently I saw that the boy posted a photo of him hugging another girl with the caption, ‘Missing you’. The girl tagged in the photo was not the girl I knew to be his girlfriend, and she had appeared in his Instagram story being referred to as ‘babe’.
I already knew, from his Instagram feed, that the boy had a few girlfriends in the past and the history was there if anyone were to look back. The last photo of him and the girl, though, was a couple of months ago.
When I revisited that last photo and revisited the girl’s Instagram feed, I noticed that there was not a trace of the boy.
She had deleted everything I remember seeing of her and her boyfriend.
It was as if they never had a relationship.
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What happened to x and y?
I sat on my curiosity for a moment, wondering what became of them.
This is not the first time this has happened.
In all honesty, this is not the first time I’ve seen a change in someone’s life and wondered about it. The life of someone whom I don’t know, or someone whom I only know – on the internet, as it were. And I ask myself the question why. It always seems as if it’s the girl in the relationship, or just one person in the relationship, who deletes every trace of the relationship, setting in stone that really – it’s over.
And yet, this takes me back to me. Why do I hold this curiosity?
I’m wondering, why would you delete these photos? Did you break up? Yeah, I mean, of course you did, but why would you want to get rid of everything that reminds you of someone?
Relationships can be happy, and they can also be really hard. Relationships are wont to either ending, or being together forever. One or the other.
If you think of relationships as that harsh reality, then you can understand.
I understand now.
What happened to me?
Breakups hurt. They are emotional and we need time to get over the pain. I understand that even though I might look back on a relationship positively once I have gotten over it, I feel uncomfortable having photos of me and my ex partners on social media profiles. Social media often represents us and who we are, and if there is a change, sometimes these photos stop reflecting who we are.
Sometimes we don’t want people to see what we consider private, and we feel like we are sharing our entire lives with the world. I was with one of my exes for almost seven years.
As I think about this, I realise that I did exactly the same thing.
If you trawl back through my blog you will find blog posts about myself and my ex partners, unedited. My blog is such a big part of my life that I feel like I am lying and erasing pieces of my life if I remove those posts I’ve written. I wrote a vague blog post when things ended. I hated to write it and kept it under wraps for a long time, because for so long, I’ve shared my life with the world and I felt like I owed it to people who read my blog.
I knew, just like me, they would be wondering.
Even when I moved on, they would be wondering.
On Instagram, I deleted a few photos. I wanted to move them further into the past without just hiding its existence altogether. So I left a few photos from old relationships that I still liked. Perhaps they were better moments than others, and reflected a time when things were better.
But I see why.
I see why now. I see why people delete photos because it gives them closure. On a regularly updated blog, my old posts become tucked away into the old stories and into the archives that people hardly – if ever – read. On Instagram, the visuals are more vibrant representations of life moments. I didn’t want painful reminders and I wanted to move on.
Answering the unasked questions
I got engaged almost four months ago. An old friend of mine – who had met me when I was with my previous partner – asked me the awkward question of what had happened between me and my previous partner.
I’ve well moved on, on my way to marrying someone else, and my friend, albeit one I was not close to, was asking about my previous relationship.
Whether or not people have the guts (or the nerve – if they’re someone who you wouldn’t even consider a friend) to ask you what happened with your previous relationship, know this: people will be curious.
I answered honestly. When my friends asked, I answered them honestly. I chose to leave a vague post on my blog, and I chose to continue with my life without mentioning what happened.
There is something I have learned, from being at both ends.
If you choose to have a trace of your relationships on the internet, some people will be curious as to what happened if things ever end.
It’s up to you if you answer them.
It’s up to you how you answer them.
Whether that’s coming right out and saying it; answering people if they ask what happened; posting a photo about your sad mood; posting a photo when you’ve moved on; writing about a new love later on; flat-out ignoring the questions.
There is no shame in choosing to remove traces of your ex that you’ve put on the internet. Likewise, there is nothing wrong with you having chosen to put so much online in the first place. There is nothing wrong with coming out with an emotional post about the breakup, and you are allowed to walk away and not address the breakup because it doesn’t have to be anyone’s business.
If you’ve observed a couple online, there’s nothing wrong with that – it’s only human to wonder what happened to them.
I’ll never know what really happened to that boy and girl, but I respect their wishes, and it looks like they’ve both moved on, and they seem happy now… and it’s really none of my business at all.