Relationships from the Outside

If there is something I have noticed lately, it’s that nothing is what it looks like. We look at so many relationships around us and see only the picture perfect side, the side that is posted to Instagram or Facebook. We’re too focused on what makes other’s relationships look so perfect that we forget those people are normal and have the same relationship struggles we do.

Log onto Facebook in your 20s and you’re bound to see someone flashing their engagement ring. Check LinkedIn and you can’t escape noticing your old colleague just got promoted…But we’re only seeing a carefully crafted slice of someone’s life — which they’ve probably slapped a filter on — and it can make us feel like we’re falling short when the fact is, we’re not seeing the whole picture.

Newsflash: you define your own success and happiness. And more importantly, the success and happiness of others that you think you’re witnessing on social channels isn’t necessarily a reflection of their reality.

-Rebecca Strong, Social Media, FOMO and the Perfect Storm for the Quarter-Life Crisis

I’ve been in a relationship with my boyfriend for a little more than a year (or a year and a half if we don’t count the few months we broke up and remained friends). We’ve also known each other for a couple years, during which we’ve had a fair share of arguments.

Like many relationships, we argue and a lot of the time it’s about the same things.

  • I’m cranky for no apparent reason (probably because he’s not talented in the area of cleaning up after himself).
  • He’s cranky for no apparent reason (probably because I don’t like deciding where we eat out).
  • We argue about:
    • cleaning
    • who will make the bed
    • who didn’t make the bed
    • what we should set the thermostat at
    • that I should water my plants
    • that he should take shorter showers
    • who didn’t replace the toilet paper
    • I don’t want to bore you with any more

But upon listening to my friends and family and, of course for good measure, an extensive google search, I learned that couples fight. Couples argue. Couples love. Couples persevere.

The problem is that social media leads us to believe everyone else’s relationship is perfect because we don’t see other couples arguing, we don’t see other couples in unhappy moments in their relationships, which makes us think that our relationships are wrong. 

“…it is important to keep in mind that conflict and arguing can be very beneficial to the health of friendships ad romantic relationships.  In particular, facing the need to argue with a close other can be energizing and motivating—the topics that bring about arguments remind us of what is important to us-from our core values to our goals for a given day. Arguments also give us the opportunity to think about and voice how we feel about our relationships and “who we are” as friends or dating partners.”

-Jennifer A. Stamp Ph.D., The Benefits of Arguing


Arguing is good, it helps me remember that I have a voice, that I am an individual outside and inside of my relationship, someone who has her own values and beliefs. I don’t always like when I am challenged by my boyfriend, but it helps me grow.

Here are your takeaways: Relationships are not picture perfect, and if you see one just remember it isn’t always pictures on the beach, it’s also stinky socks and arguing about the thermostat settings. Arguing is healthy — it challenges you and your relationship in the best of ways…just make sure your arguing habits are healthy.