With the ever-increasing surge of social media, and overwhelming influence of the internet consuming the everyday lives of the modern adolescent, a phrase that’s become popular amongst the rose-tinted and blissfully naïve minds of young romantics, has been the overly used thread of #relationshipgoals.
This trend allows those who dream of being loved to expect certain aspects of a relationship. The overload of photos on Instagram, depicting teenage and young adult couples engaging in acts of playful affection, with their surroundings almost as beautiful as the photo’s intended focus. Whilst these various depictions often show off both the “simple” pleasures of intimacy, and lifestyles only a fraction of the globe enjoy, you always manage to catch a glimpse of that caption- #relationshipgoals.
We, as a generation, have become obsessed with finding happiness and love, influenced by displays of affectionate strangers. We try to imitate what they consider to be the “ideal” relationship. This might include exotic travels to wonders of the world, excessive demonstrations of wealth with lavish gifts, and experiences some of us may never be able to have ourselves. These vain and materialistic ideals which some have immersed themselves into, can be fractious and poisonous.
These ‘goals’ imply a set of guidelines, for both boys and girls, to achieve this narcissistic perception of ‘love’. For example, quotes that claim girls should be treated like princesses, and showered constantly with gifts consisting of branded clothes or extortionately priced make-up; boys as misunderstood beings that are besotted with their partner, living with this re-occurring thought of self-deprecation, fuelling the need to be constantly reassured by their other half.
These ‘goals’ can manifest into frustration and discontent when someone doesn’t treat you the way you think they should. Perhaps they don’t share sympathy for your moodiness, or look after you when you’re on your period. Girls, it’s nothing new, it happens to the rest of us. When the behaviour of your partner doesn’t match your expectations, you feel let down and look for love elsewhere, in the hope that you’ll be one step closer to those ‘goals’.
We grew out of idolising fairy tales, happy ever-afters and finding Prince Charming. We now tend to focus on a more ‘realistic’ depiction of what love and relationships seem to be. But, is this rise of #relationshipgoals having the opposite effect on our sponge-like minds, being more detrimental that helpful to achieve happiness, making us resent what we’re presented with in reality?
We have to be wary of the photos we like, or the tweets we retweet, taking them with a pinch of salt. Photos are only a snapshot of someone’s day. Do the photos many aspire to, really depict the reality of a relationship? What about the other 23 hours 59 minutes and 59 seconds of the day? Just because a fraction of someone’s relationship is publicised, it doesn’t mean that it’s an accurate account of their feelings. It merely captures the optimistic, note-worthy parts, evoking the idea that their relationship is flawless.
We have to ask ourselves whether such displays of adoration are actually declarations of love. Do the three dozen red roses or the six foot teddy bear, or the grossly romantic trips to Paris really constitute what it means to be in a relationship? Do we crave their actual relationship, or the materialistic attributes that seem to come with it? Is it really love and happiness the next generation are searching for, or is it the gluttonous need to fill their materialist desires?
Are we really that unhappy with what’s brought to us in the reality that we escape to social media to fuel our superficial desires?
It’s important to remember that we’re human, we all want things, and to feel what we have never felt. But we don’t have to aspire to others, and plague ourselves with the damning #relationshipgoals.
Every relationship is unique. When we believe we should behave in a certain way, it enforces the idea of a relationship as an accessory, becoming about what people gain, rather than about each other. Expectations of #relationshipgoals can be shattered within an instant, when emotions fuel our passion. A relationship becomes centred around the little things, not grand gestures, all their quirks and tiny details no one else notices, which makes your relationship your own goal. The conversations until unholy times in the morning, fuelled by alcohol you consumed only hours before. The effort you put in to get to know each other is important; knowing that his favourite colours are orange and black, or that she prefers drinking tea to coffee, that he switches the song playing through your speakers, and it’s always the same one. Appreciate moments like breaking the speed limit on country lanes listening to rock music; just the simple pleasures in life between the two of you, no one else.
You become your own goal, your own adventure, your own Romeo and Juliet (without the morbid ending), and the author of your own story. #Relationshipgoals no longer matter, and shouldn’t be the influence for the “perfect” relationship. We should realise that no two relationships are the same. Don’t worry about replicating the relationship of strangers, because it doesn’t guarantee happiness. Embrace the unexpected love and opportunities that come your way, because in the end, your own adventure is more important than any #relationshipgoals will ever be.