Advice from the Trenches: Two Takes on Online Sharing

Dear C;

I have a busy life and am a busy person, but I love to write, so I keep a blog. I also post often on Facebook, both about my life and my inner thoughts. What irks me to no end is that my wife refuses to read any of my posts. She says not to take it personally because she is also very busy person. Most of her work is done online and on social media, so she doesn’t like to go on to read anyone’s private posts when she’s not working. She says if I want to tell her something important just tell her in person as we do live in the same house. Problem is, this often isn’t possible – even though she works from home she doesn’t like to be interrupted when she is working. I usually don’t remember these momentary inspirations later on, which is why I write and post it in the first place.

The real irony of this out-of-sync online phenomena is that we actually met at an online dating service and at one time we our communications were all about just these kind of random spontaneous thoughts. Back then, we wanted to share those with each other. Shouldn’t she should be flattered that 16 years later I still wish to share these things with her?

FB Husband

 

Dear Husband,

I was tempted to just give you my answer, but I thought you could benefit from a clinical perspective, so I decided to run this by my associate, Dr. Brilliant Cliché (nom de plume in order to protect his professional identity.) Here is his psychiatrist’s take:

Many years ago in therapy, we’d work with couples to help them understand that sexual needs could differ between partners. We encouraged them to have open and honest conversations, and to listen to each other and share their individual needs. Today, I often find myself having the same conversation with couples to help them understand that online needs, like sexual needs, can also differ between partners.

From online porn to how much either partner shares about their personal life on social media, couples need to have a discussion. What does “friends” mean to each partner regarding their online group? Are ex girls or boyfriends okay?  These are all areas of potential contention that need to be discussed and defined. You have to reserve time for each other and plan when and where is best; that’s how you maintain a long-term relationship. It may have worked when you were dating, but spur of the moment impulses aren’t really a reasonable thing to expect once jobs and “real  life” intervene.

In the old days we used to have couples write letters to each other to convey feeling and needs that might have been to difficult to express verbally. These days people wear their heart on their Facebook page. Maybe you can just make a screen print and save your thoughts for when she has the time to read?

Dr. Brilliant Cliché

 

OK, FB Husband, here’s how this looks to me:

If you are posting your thoughts for all to see, they aren’t really personal anymore, are they? I know that things have changed a lot since the pre-Facebook/Twitter/Instagram days, but I feel there’s something vaguely insulting about telling the social media world your “important” thoughts, then expecting your significant other to be part of the general fan club. What makes your primary relationship different from your friendships is that there are some things you share only with your partner. If your life and inner thoughts are scrolling out there like the news feed in Times Square, there isn’t anything very special about it, is there?

I sometimes read back in some of the journals I wrote before social media came in vogue. The most important and significant things I felt and wrote were things I’d only want to share with someone who was important and significant to me. When you are a media slut (let’s call it like it is) your wife isn’t getting anything but sloppy seconds. You think she should be flattered? Really?

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