You’ve probably seen it: A beautiful girl posing meaningfully with a colorful cocktail, or demonstratively sunbathing in the last rays of the evening sun. Another variation of this theme is the girl draping under a cherry blossom branch so that the filtered light hits her face perfectly. Meanwhile, the girlfriend is sitting with her iPhone camera squatting next to her, with her head so low that it almost scratches against the paving stones. click, click, click, he takes pictures from different angles while dutifully following her directions. He has no idea where the pictures end up, but he does not care either. Because he is offlineshe is online† They are the perfect couple.
You know them, the couple where one partner lives an offline life and the other is glued to Insta or another social media platform 24 hours a day. This has nothing to do with gender, the offline / online couple is gender neutral. It is also crucial that the offline partner did not go offline because “for psychological reasons” Social Media should end ”. No, the offline partner is just naturally offline, such as some people are redheaded or polyamorous to be. They still think so TikTok is there only for dance trends and you get a shiny star when you joke about a meme on Twitter† If you then clumsily flip through the examples on your screen to explain meme, they will respond with something along the lines of “Ah.” You speak two different languages.
But like tops and bottoms and doms and subs, the offline / online couple lives in symbiosis with each other. The online partner can show the offline partner’s viral videos or explain why their boss keeps coming out of nowhere. ”vibe shift“say. Meanwhile, the offline partner can remind the online partner that there is a world of trees and birds and delicious, unphotographed meals to enjoy. They are each other’s bridge between two worlds, and neither of them judges the other.
When you start paying attention, you suddenly see online / offline couples everywhere. Phebe May, 29, a digital designer and art director, has such a relationship. She has “always been connected to the internet” and has in her own words “created a world of online communication with other creatives”. Her boyfriend, on the other hand, “works in construction and does not have a smartphone – he is old-fashioned and believes in taking pictures on a camera, and he wants to experience life organically”.
Phebe thinks their relationship works better than if they were both online all the time. “I’d rather have one partner who is offline, so we can enjoy authentic quality time. I do not want to feel the social pressure that we have to write together, and I do not want people to mess around in my private life, “she says. “It makes us different, and it gives me a reason to unplug the Internet for a while.”
Harry Hitchins, 26, is a director and screenwriter. He says he is “as online as possible. I’m sure I’ve been turned off by many for my incessant posts. But I love being online; I belong to that community and it feels really special.” His partner, on the other hand, “has no interest in presenting himself to the world that way … they just do not care!”
Although Harry does not necessarily notice any benefits, he does find it to be offline by his partner quite attractive. “I would be lying if I said it’s unattractive that my partner does not feel the need to be super present online,” he says. “My partner is happy with what’s in front of them, instead of searching more through the screen.”
From conversations with online / offline couples, one theme comes up again and again: the idea that being online can be fun or useful for individuals, for example for work, but that it is harmful to relationships. For example, someone may feel pressured to take pictures of his partner online or to give other people access to his privacy. This creates paranoia that is detached from reality. There is more reason for tension or conflict. When a person is offline, many of these issues do not exist.
“We do not feel any pressure to announce our relationship online,” explains Mena Sachdev, 26. Hen is a musician and spends a lot of time on TikTok and Instagram and their “FaceTimed friends almost constantly.” Your partner only occasionally uses their phone to read articles or check emails.
If you are not monogamous, there are specific challenges. Having multiple partners on social media can be complicated. “We recently went from monogamous to polyamorous,” Mena added. “So it was also nice that social media didn’t turn out to be a big factor in the dynamics of our relationship.”
To really understand how the online / offline relationship works, all you have to do is take a look at a relationship between two people who are both very online. Effy Smith, 21, asked us to change her last name to protect her ex’s identity. She says she “felt an absolute huge pressure to always be on my phone and answer every message he sent me, no matter what platform”.
This was neither good for Effy personally nor for her relationship. “It was exhausting,” she recalls. “I felt like our personalities were defined by the internet and memes. At one point, it even felt unnatural to just sit down and talk about our feelings. Rarely did we have a conversation that did not include internet terminology.”
The relationship ended and Effy is now with someone who is the opposite. These days, none of them are “very online”. They both dive in and out. “It has helped me overcome my (internet) addiction,” she says. “Now that I’m online for up to two hours a day, I can see how it has literally affected me on all levels.”
Callisto Adams, a relationship expert and coach, says that social media tends to create insecurity (that’s what they’re designed for!). This is true in relationships. “When one of the partners is not on social media, there is a sense of relief,” she says.
Lee Wilson, is also a relationship expert and coach. If one partner is not always on social media, he says, the couple is more likely to go out and do something fun. Then you are not just non-stop on TikTok. “If the other partner is not distracted by their phone, an intimacy-building activity may take place, such as a conversation, sex or any other common moment, ”he says.
But if you are both chronically online, it is worth setting your boundaries in the same way as IRL. “It’s important for romantic partners to have a conversation and find out what’s hurtful and what’s okay,” Adams says. He gives an example: “For example, you can indicate that you do not like when your partner likes pictures of strangers”.
The world is full of conflicting messages when it comes to how we should spend our time. We are expected to keep up to date with current events and trends – which change every few hours due to the lightning-fast social media. It is considered both harmful and embarrassing to spend a lot of time posting indefinitely so that one does not really have both feet in the real world.
Of course, it is impossible to do both. You can not be on and off the Internet at the same time – unless you are two.