We are both active on a ton of social media networks including Facebook, Twitter and Instagram to name a few. You name it, we’ve tried them. In fact, we actually first met and grew our relationship on Twitter and Facebook. We are grateful for social media because if it was not for facebook, we never would have met. Imagine one of us living in Kampala and the other living thousands of miles away in mbarara. It all started for us as a simple post that grew into phone calls and video chats and on to meeting in person and being together. It all culminated in us getting married this past summer.
While our story had a happy outcome, not everyone is so lucky. We have heard many personal horror stories of built-up expectations that were never realized. Love is something all people crave. Why do you think a lot of hit songs, books and movies are about love? People long to be loved and long for the day of finding that one special person they can’t live without.
Here are eight truths we’ve learned about social media and relationships as well as from people who have found themselves in bad situations. We hope these “truths” will help you avoid heartaches and create meaningful and positive relationships:
Social media sites are not dating sites: We are elated when we see people find love on social media but if that is the only purpose of joining a social network, you may be disappointed. If you are looking for love online, it may be a better idea to consider using a dating website designed specifically to help people meet compatible partners and hopefully form meaningful and lasting relationships. We were both active on Facebook and Twitter long before we first met so it was never our initial intention to find love through social media.
Not everyone is truthful about who they say they are on social media: Don’t fall into the trap of believing everything you see on social media. Don’t fall in love with people’s profile pictures and bios. People will often stretch the truth to hide their perceived flaws and build up their positives to get people to follow or friend them. The biggest letdown is if you get into an intimate relationship right away based only on what the other person says in their profile or an attractive profile photo. Before falling head over heels for someone, make sure you get to know the real person first. There is nothing wrong with asking questions and really getting to know who the person is in real life before committing to a more serious relationship.
People will and can hurt you: Relationships on social media may be great in the beginning, but once you take the next step and meet in person you may be in for a surprise. People may take more liberties engaging on social media than in real life. The fact is some think they can stretch the truth online and hide behind the shield of anonymity. Be careful!
The same process must be followed for both online and offline relationships: Social media is a great tool to meet interesting people and create relationships, but you must be smart about it. Spend plenty of quality time with each other offline to find out if you really click. No matter how you met, your soul mate is someone who should bring out the best in you. It is through experiencing the ups and downs of a relationship beyond the world of social media that you will find out if you’re meant to be together.
Follow your heart but take your brain with you too: There will be people who will question your choices especially for those who meet online. No matter what people say, it is still your choice. Just make sure you use common sense and always be on the lookout for your safety. Sometimes we don’t see everything objectively when we are in love. Be on the lookout for red flags when you are beginning your online relationship:
They should be willing to talk with you on the phone and meet with you in person and in public.
They should be willing to talk with you on stream, not just through private messages (PMs) or direct messages (DMs.)
They should not ask you for money as a perquisite to meeting you. This is a big red flag!
They should be willing to back-up claims and statements they make publicly online and to you privately. Remember, anyone can say anything online. It doesn’t make it true!
Following your instincts is a must: There are many awesome people in social media but there are still those who may take advantage of you and your vulnerability. Just because they are active and share a lot doesn’t mean they are particularly trustworthy. If your instincts tell you to stop, investigate further before continuing to interact. Matters of the heart are emotional experiences that should not be taken lightly especially if it turns ugly. Break-ups can take a nasty turn and become amplified on social media.
Honesty is the best policy: Be yourself! Whatever your reason for joining any social media network, it is always a good practice to be honest. It’s never been an issue for us meeting our online friends in person because we are no different offline than how we represent ourselves online. Some people find it hard to connect offline because they’re afraid of being exposed as not who they say they are.
Being honest is important if you want to build trust and authentic relationships with people beyond social media. If you see someone is falling in love with you and you do not feel the same way, be honest and firm. Tell them exactly how you feel. Never play with anyone’s feelings and never pretend to like someone. Remember those avatars represent real human beings who can get hurt.
Safety first: When it comes to the matters of the heart, there is certainly nothing wrong with meeting and falling in love with someone you meet through social media. We have met many people like us who have been successful in finding their partners online. When we see people find true happiness it really put a smile in our hearts although not everyone is so lucky. Just make sure you use common sense and take extra measures to keep yourself safe when engaging with people online:
Go ahead and meet up in person but do it in a public place. If you’re still unsure, bring a friend along or go on a double date.
Take it slow and easy. Be friends first and get to know the person before getting really serious.
Don’t feel bad about asking questions and seeking answers. If the person you’re building a relationship with is reluctant or not forth coming, have the courage to move on. Putting your safety and reputation at risk is not worth the short term pain and sadness of ending the relationship.
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