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While social media may be a relatively new phenomenon, humans have always had an utter obsession with love stories, dating back to our earliest understanding of history. Love is a mysterious, unquantifiable force that can create and destroy entire lives, something we are addicted to, sick of, stressed out by, and look for behind every corner.

When we finally have it, even if it’s wonderful, we’re still bombarded by unrealistic romcoms and romance novels. Then there’s celebrity dating gossip, and perfectly manufactured couples in perfectly manufactured 14-second worlds, it would be difficult not to compare them to your circumstances! We all know how unhealthy that can be, and here are some tips to help you next time those feelings arise.

Recognise that all media is intentional

Part of the human experience is coming to terms with how small and imperfect your perception of the world truly is. Everything, from the first cave paintings of the Ice Age to Riverdale fan cams on half an iPad screen that’s intercut with Subway Surfer clips, is an intentional effort to communicate a message.

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That’s why propaganda is so dangerous, and why it’s basically the same as marketing, which is what everything on social media secretly is. Your eyes see the post, not the contracts, motivations, production notes, and editing that went into its creation. It feels reasonable to compare your romance to other “real” stories of romance, but media “realness” is a huge grey zone to begin with.

Don’t take social media posts quite so literally

Some of the more specific examples of “relationship goals” are the hyper-personalized gestures somebody receives from their partner. Think a rose for every day they have known and loved them, but with a zoomer-influencer spin. Like a Bugatti for every time they ‘rizzed’ somebody else by mistake… what does that even mean?!

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Remember that your partner doesn’t have your for you page for reference, and will have their own gestures in mind to show you how much they care. Realistically, your situation will be nothing akin to those in the posts you see, and so your routines and rituals will bear little conscious similarity to them.

Spend less time on social media

As useful as social media can be, most of us are consuming far too much of it. The repetition and monotony of scrolling means we do it even when we don’t want to, as a baseline stimulation to achieve a minimum level of boredom. That’s on top of all the body and relationship issues it can cause, which at some point outweigh its excessive usage.

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Take time to consciously shift your perception back to the real world, to the everyday people around you, and how they try to engage with life on their terms. Social media and the hyper-reality it cultivates can be pretty far removed from the actual lives of the people you love, and disconnecting from that may help you gain some perspective.

Organize a date night

No relationship can keep the flame alive and red hot all the time, and it’s completely normal to find yourself wishing that your partner was more elaborate in their affection and sense of romance. You should also be able to raise that to your partner without them freaking out and thinking you’re about to leave them.

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If anything, it’s the perfect chance for you to reconnect! Plan a special night, fill it with the sappiest, most sentimental nonsense you can tolerate, and above all enjoy your time together. It doesn’t have to break the bank, the important thing is that you show each other you’re still caring and committed.