Goals are important. Looking up to other people is important. Having positive role models is important. But in this day and age of Instagram celebrity and a picture making people assume 1,000 words, I think most of us can admit #RelationshipGoals can often do more harm than good.
Actually, let me back up a second because having goals for one’s relationship is really a good thing. Too many of us simply want to be with someone but never take the time to think about what we really want that union to look like and the work it will take to get there (non-italicized emphasis on work). But this notion of pointing out two attractive individuals on Instagram who take cute pictures together and declaring themselves Instagram goals is one that has to stop, both for very superficial and serious reasons.
Ask any couple about married life and they’ll tell you the cute moments are few and far between. Sure, they love their partner; yes, they’re happy to be married; and maybe they’d do it all over again if they had the choice. But just like everyone says when it comes to social media, people pick and choose what they want to post on their respective sites and I think it’s imperative people, especially young people, understand that glorious photo of your favorite couple on a yacht in Monaco probably involved an argument on the plane, frustration from the husband about having to take yet another snapshot, and a full-blown attitude from the woman who feels like her man just doesn’t care about the things she does. That’s not to say the effort that got to the viral photo wasn’t worth it in the end, but that is to say the effort required to get that money shot requires a lot more than a photographer and a smize, and rarely is that factored into #RelationshipGoals considerations.
And then there are the more serious tales that stick with you beyond social media superficiality. For instance, the sad story of young couple, Barry and Tonie Wells, whom many, including The Shade Room, had declared #RelationshipGoals because the husband tattooed an image of his wife’s face on his back earlier this year. On Wednesday morning, Tonie, at eight months pregnant, was found dead at the bottom of the stairs inside the couple’s Brooklyn home with bruise marks around her neck, leading investigators to assume Barry had pushed her. I want to say domestic violence is obviously never relationship goals but I can’t ignore the fact that some women can’t differentiate between the human propensity to jealousy and outright controlling behavior, let alone the idea that choking is not a form of affection.
Admiration is one thing and, provided you have the full picture of a couple’s relationship journey, I see nothing wrong with wanting to mimic another pair’s commitment to one another. But the reality is most of us don’t have the slightest clue what goes on behind closed doors when it comes to the pairs we applaud — including our grandparents — and rather than put the relationships of strangers on a pedestal and vow to follow them, we should spend more time examining the man or woman in front of us and learning and exploring what it would take for you to each stay in it for the long haul. Relationship goals should be guiding principles established by the two people in the union to ensure the longevity of the relationship and that one another’s needs are met. Like infidelity, seeking answers or an escape from anyone outside of the relationship is doomed to fail. And as long as your relationship goals are based on another couple’s false reality you stand no chance of actually achieving any sustainable goals for the covenant relationship you’re involved in.