Ugh social media. Somehow it’s ended up being the backbone of my career and I’m not proud of it. It’s mostly fine as a source of news and influencer inspiration, but when it comes to your friends and family using it as a sounding board for approval from their hundreds if not thousands of contacts, it becomes an entirely different story. I’m not here to validate your existence. Stop it. Being a relationship blog, let’s home in on the social media humble-brag and look at PDA. 

This post is the close cousin of my engagement ring rant and my brother’s obnoxious “look at how perfect we are” posts, but it’s slightly less specific. Speaking of cousins, a much younger cousin of mine recently found herself in a relationship. It’s only her second – her first ended abruptly after their long-distance situation didn’t pan out. He moved on quickly. She was devastated and rightfully so. Soon after, according to her almost daily IG story posts, she also moved on.

While I applaud the moving on, the type of posting was irksome in that every story she’s been posting for the past six months have featured some iteration of this guy and their relationship. From a video of him meeting her parents for the first time (say what?), to them wake boarding in her hometown together (how did you get leave approved in the first month of your new job??) every moment is carefully curated for her audience ready for validation. Even eating avocado toast on an idle Sunday. But not artistic food shots, just here’s our average avocado toasts and this dude’s face inauthentically hovering over it. Like yes, you’re in a relationship.

Maybe it’s my impression of him. On the surface he looks like a one-time frat boy turned run-of-the-mill boat shoe wearing finance bro. He’s usually doing something moderately douchey in her videos and gives off a general air of someone I wouldn’t want near me let alone my baby cousin.

But this isn’t really about him. It’s about her need to post all these inane milestones. I said this in my engagement ring rant and I’ll say it again, I’m not single so this is not me being a hot bitter mess. There’s something deeper here and it turns out I’m not wrong. There’s a term for this sort of OTT social media PDA and it’s the result of something called “relationship contingent self-esteem”.

Relationship contingent self-esteem is fairly self explanatory. Those who suffer from RCSE are more likely to have lower self-esteem and higher social anxiety. Add social media into the mix, you get the perfect storm. Bonus, it’s more commonly displayed by introverts because introverts are less likely to talk about the happiness of their relationship in real life, so they’ll take to the gram to do so. But it’s annoying as hell because it’s hard to watch someone you care about gauge their self-worth based on their relationship status. That boy ain’t shit. But you are so act like it.

While this doesn’t bring me solace when it comes to my little cousin, it does explain her behaviour. Her parents have even been pretty hard on me in the past too about choosing to be single in my 20s. They would say my womb is a ticking time bomb and if I don’t lock it down soon I won’t be able to have children. And I’m just their niece. Imagine being their daughter.

This isn’t a happy post but can we marvel at the aptness of the featured photo?