Recently, the terms “couple goals” and “relationship goals” have become a social media phenomenon. @Couplegoals is an Instagram page with over four million followers, and the hashtag #relationshipgoals has over nine million posts. These words are thrown around in chart-topping songs and used regularly to describe these sometimes over-the-top, sometimes sweet, sometimes bizarre snapshots of “real love.” We consume images of couples posed to look intimate, and the world can’t seem to get enough.
There are couples walking hand-in-hand on the beach, laughing while grocery shopping, kissing in Paris, and resting their feet on each other in business class on their way to a mystery vacation. These images have become the standard for #couplesgoals, and their Instagram comments are inundated with praise and compliments by random onlookers and friends alike. But are these snapshots a reality or a reel? By the way, who takes these pictures?!
Anyway, the hashtags #couplegoals and #relationshipgoals are easily the single girls’ kyrpotnite. We see these photos and our heart drops a little, not necessarily out of jealousy, but because damn, we want that feeling. The world seems obsessed with super cute couples appearing head over heels in love with each other, and sometimes, admittedly, how can someone not love these photos? Some of these pictures really do ooze love. However, it seems like every time I open my Instagram, it’s lit with some inflated idea of relationship glory. This is how love should look, this is how love should be, and this is what you should have or aspire to attain. Whether a celebrity couple or one of those random YouTube stars earning a living off of their relationship via Vlogging, these couples are enough to drive a single girl mad. As LovePankey.com put it, “…it’s because we think that’s reality, and we wish it was ours. We wish we had someone to hold us just like the person in the image is holding their ‘loved one.’” I felt that quote in my soul. As single women, we often view these relationships as unattainable when, actually, these couples should be an inspiration. The couples not showing out for the ‘Gram, but genuinely sharing glimpses into their love, are so beautiful, and I’m inspired by their joy. Nevertheless, not long after studying one of these posts, fear starts to creep in, making me wonder if I will ever have that picture-perfect love.
The issue with these #relationshipgoals and #couplegoals pictures is that often times, they’re not real. Sometimes, sure, they’re real, but even then, those photos are merely one still frame of a person’s life. The anniversary dates, special surprises, sweet shoutouts – sure, those definitely carry validity, but let’s be real, all of these posts are hardly a depiction of life in a relationship. I mean, think about it – can you imagine if your favorite couple posted a photo with a caption that read, “This dude just liked his ex’s picture, twice, and I spent the last hour questioning if what we have is real”? Of course not! Nobody posts pictures of the hardships relationships endure; they’re posting their highlight reel.
Earlier this week, Jada Pinkett Smith released a video-gone-viral where she shared that “being in love” meant learning how to deal with devastation. She dropped some gems, y’all, and while I hated to hear her advice, I absolutely agreed with the message she shared. You must find someone you love more than the devastation they cause you. Do you hear that, sis? All that glitters is not gold.
Social media has opened up space where couples can highlight their joy and love for the world, and that’s a beautiful thing, but that does not mean it’s always accurate and honest. These couples write the sweetest captions to and about their loved ones, but in some cases, those same people have never said those words to each other in real life. They pose in matching outfits that the wife had to beg her husband to wear. There’s a sweet image of that same couple laying in bed together on Saturday morning, but the wife never revealed that her husband didn’t walk in the house until 4AM. The Mother’s Day, Father’s Day, or Valentine’s Day posts leave out the fact that the couple argued over who they followed on Snapchat the night before.
It’s important to understand, in general, that social media is a place where you celebrate your highs and rarely announce yours lows. You never know how many moments of disappointment are behind that particular moment your favorite couple just posted.
Not all of those pictures are full of junk, though. Some of them depict real couple goals. I have my fair share of friends who are actually, truly #relationshipgoals. Bigger than #couplegoals or #relationshipgoals, they are #familygoals and #lifegoals, too. I not only admire their relationship, but I admire their journey and their honesty. The way they share their love is genuine, and the snapshots they post fill me with hope.
On the flipside, I know people who are promoting a C+ relationship like an A+ relationship, and too many of you are falling for it.
I challenge every single person to define #relationshipgoals. Define this without a photo. Take some time to really think about what qualities and characteristics of a relationship matter to you. These answers matter far more than an Instagram-worthy photo on your boyfriend’s lap.
To me, #relationshipgoals means you are with someone who genuinely knows you and loves you without judgement, someone who loves your flaws, quirks, and shortcomings. When I think about #relationshipgoals, I know that these goals cannot exist without love, patience, tolerance, and security. Those are non-negotiable. Above all else, the ultimate #relationshipgoal is happiness. I pray to be happy more than I am devastated.