Four ways NOT to Use the Internet in Your Relationship

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Here at Couple, we firmly believe in the power of technology to help couples come together: We use our phones to send our loved ones pictures and messages; we communicate constantly via email and chat; and thanks to Skype and FaceTime, we can see and hear each other even when thousands of miles of physical distance separates us. Still, like most innovations, technology and the Internet can occasionally be used in ways that are not exactly ideal for courtship. Staying out of trouble is relatively easy. All you have to do is follow these four rules:

  1. Do not use the internet as a showcase for videos of your partner flipping out (or otherwise compromising him/herself).
    It’s hard to overestimate the degree to which YouTube is great. Without it, the world might not know about flash mob weddings, ninja cats, Gangnam Style, and who knows what else. In this complicated world, we need those things. But some videos are not meant to go viral: Sex tapes are the most obvious example, but the lines are blurrier when it comes to other types of content. What seems funny to one person could be perceived as humiliating to the next. For example, this video a man taped of his wife screaming at him may have seemed hilarious to the guy, but for many of the thousands of people who watched it, it was the posting of the video – not the woman’s behavior – that was the true offense. And I can’t imagine the woman was thrilled about the whole thing. So here’s a basic rule about posting videos of your partner online: Don’t go public without permission.
  2. Do not post potentially embarrassing pictures of your loved one – or an ex — online.
    This one’s in the same vein, but worth reiterating: Do not post pictures of your loved one online unless you are absolutely sure this is okay with him or her. This especially includes sexy photos, of course, but it also encompasses photos of your S.O. sleeping, having a bad hair day, wearing a costume, or generally not looking 1000% amazing. Since you don’t know which pictures your partner will love or hate, better to just ask before taking to Facebook. Especially since deleting something from the internet doesn’t necessarily mean it’s gone. Google’s caching system keeps copies of things that aren’t deleted until they crawl the web again, and even Facebook has been caught holding on to photos that users have deleted up to six months after deletion. And the things you most want to disappear have an uncanny habit of popping up at the worst possible time. So don’t risk it. As my mother always said, you’re better safe than sorry.We also strongly advise against posting compromising or potentially embarrassing pictures of your ex online. First of all, this is a petty and immature way to get revenge – which presumably is the goal here? It’s also sure to come back to haunt you, either with future lovers (who will not find that attractive, fyi) or, you know, the legal system.
  3. Speaking of risqué content – if you’re going to send it to someone online, use a secure app.
    Once upon a time, there was a very ambitious congressman from New York named Anthony Weiner. Need we say more? In all seriousness, we generally believe that sexy texts make the world go round. But exposed sexy texts can lead to the downfall of empires – or at least aspiring mayors. If you are sexting someone, anyone, be cautious. Do not do it via DM on Twitter, which has outed many an innocent (and not so innocent) sexter. Texting isn’t totally secure, either: cell phone messages aren’t encrypted, which means that anything you send via text or MMS could be intercepted by a third party without the sender’s knowledge. Even SnapChat – which was essentially built for purposes of sexting – can be risky, what with the existence of blogs dedicated to posting screengrabs of photos sent via the app. When it comes down to it, the only truly secure way to send risque content is through an app that uses encryption — Couple is one — that will protect the contents of your message. Your second best option is to keep your sexting limited to you trust with your life, and who has a stake in your well-being.
  4. Do not use social media outlets to make passive aggressive relationship demands.
    Back in the days when that “25 Things About Me” meme was circulating on Facebook, I heard a story about a woman who really wanted to get engaged to her boyfriend. She was not a particular fan of subtlety, and she decided to take to Facebook to make her betrothal wishes known. The woman filled out the “25 things” survey, among which included several bullet points about her desire to be proposed to. This did not do her many favors with the boyfriend – nor with all of his friends who saw it. We’re all for people sharing what they like online, but engaging in passive aggressive relationship conversations on social media isn’t exactly the most direct way to get what you want. And it’s also bound to blow up in your face.

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