Is Social Pressure Damaging Our Love Life?

By Dr. Sarah Rasmi, Licensed Psychologist & Managing Director at Thrive Wellbeing Centre

The pandemic drove us further into overuse of screen time. Recent studies estimate we pick up our smartphones over 85 times per day and spend around 25 hours online each week. Friends and frenemies can now be tracked more easily; status changes can be monitored almost constantly. Often, social pressures make it more difficult for us to keep our personal information private (and many do not want to). Some of us are willingly staring into the goldfish bowl that is other’s social media, and as we know, this is associated with envy and damaging and negative comparisons.


It is our love lives that are the subject of many comparisons made via social media during this period of the year. February, and Valentine’s Day in particular, force us to consider relationships and watch others fall into them. More than ever, technology, and social media in particular, have enabled people around the world to share their lives. We are bombarded with images of happy, loving couples, and that can add to the pressure and feeling of isolation. This makes it easier for us to compare ourselves with others than ever before, such as acquaintances, celebrities, etc. There are certain social romantic norms that work for some people, but those norms do not apply to everyone. When faced with pressure, finding a way to respond in a positive and productive way can be challenging.


The social clock refers to the unspoken pressure imposed by society to reach certain life milestones within a defined period of time. Critical life transitions, such as marriage, parenthood, and retirement, are influenced by the social ideologies that were created. It seems that age-graded expectations for life events have led to a belief that certain norms govern these transitions. People often feel pressured to get married and have children in their 20s or 30s, whether they want to or not. However, even if we are comfortable in our singlehood or childlessness, we can sometimes feel like outsiders when most of our peers enter this phase (e.g., someone who goes to everyone’s weddings but doesn’t have a partner, someone who hangs out at parks on the weekends but doesn’t have kids).

With the advent of social media, we are confronted with increasing pressures and ideologies. For example, we see high expectations on Valentine’s Day, such as gifts, special dinners, and romantic getaways. Expectations that don’t materialise can entice us to negatively compare the way other people describe their celebrations to our own. The question is, how can we prevent this from happening?

Setting goals together is critical as a couple. Picking times and places when you can be fully present with each other is essential. Your romantic reality is influenced by a variety of factors, including your circumstances, goals, and preferences. Take a moment to reflect on what you want and what your goals are before you allow yourself to be pulled into society’s vision of what you should do. Today’s society has become accustomed to the notion of having a romantic life partner as a “must.” However, being in a relationship is not a prerequisite for happiness or fulfilment. Setting healthy boundaries around technology also helps prevent technology from interfering with your relationships; we shouldn’t become slaves to social expectations, where our health, happiness, and wellbeing could be adversely affected.

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