The boyfriend and I have reached a relationship milestone that was certainly not one I encountered when I met my ex-husband at university back in the 1990s: we have gone Instagram official.
There is now a snapshot on my grid of me lying on his bare chest for all to see. The time taken to achieve said shot: 30 minutes. He was very patient and somewhat bemused by the process.
There were all kinds of considerations I had to factor in. He didn’t want his face in it, I wanted to look semi decent and the picture could neither look too porn-y nor too prissy.
We ended up in some contorted positions and there was some crushing of his crown jewels. All this was not helped by being a few G&Ts down.
The next day, when I came to press ‘post’ my hand was shaking. It felt like a big deal.
The only other time I have done this on my post-divorce dating journey, the relationship ended approximately 24 hours later. (I already knew things were going south, but I had promised him we could go public so I followed through. In hindsight, that wasn’t my smartest decision.)
I hit send when we were on a plane, just about to take off to come home from a minibreak. By the time we landed I had many lovely messages from friends and followers, all happy that I had found love. A few showed an appreciation of the boyfriend’s tanned torso.
But a few days later I noticed my follower count had decreased significantly. I try not to let these things affect me because I know if you link your self-esteem to a number of likes from strangers you’re on a hiding to nothing ‒ but still it felt a bit weird.
I recall an influencer telling me that posting pictures of herself on a beach meant a sure-fire slew of ‘unfollows’.
With my holiday spam and new loved-up status, I think I had come across as smug and it spelt a popularity dive.
Why do some connections– whether online or in real life– suffer when you get coupled up? I found it interesting when people were unkind about Kourtney Kardashian and her public displays of affection with (now new husband) Travis Barker.
Although I’m not suggesting anyone take life advice from the Kardashians, she later said of her new relationship: ‘Let’s not hate on a girl who knows what she deserves.’
Would people prefer to see me heartbroken and sad? When you’re going through tough times it’s hard to see someone else happy. And if you are single and your friend starts a new relationship it can feel like a threat to your friendship.
When my ex-husband and I got together, his rugby mates were merciless in their ‘banter’. For my ex, there were all kinds of drinking penalties meted out for being the only one with a girlfriend.
There’s also the scene in the movie Bridesmaids where Lillian confides in her best friend Annie about her engagement, then calls her fiancé and tells him ‘she’s so happy’. To which Annie mutters ‘I’m not’. At least Annie voices it – for many of us (and I know, I’ve been there too) we push those feelings down because we know it’s not gracious or fair.
In person we might be polite, but distant. Online it’s easy to just hit unfollow.
But if my marriage split has taught me anything, it’s just how important – no, how essential – platonic and familial love is.
So to any of my heartbreak crew feeling unnerved, here’s a promise. Yes, I may have a new mister, but I’ll always be here for my sisters.
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