In 1992, Gary Chapman wrote and published a book which would go on to be an international bestseller, and which would serve as an unofficial manual for more than a few modern-day romantic relationships. The book, named “The Five Love Languages: How to Express Heartfelt Commitment to Your Mate” outlines five ways for romantic partners to express love and affection, and according to Chapman, the ways include: receiving gifts, quality time, words of affirmation, acts of service, and physical touch.

These methods are all valid, but if Chapman had waited for at least two more decades to work on the manuscript that birthed this book, there is a chance that he would have added one more “language”: social media displays.

These days, much is made about the need for people who are in love (or at least claim to be in love) to flaunt their significant other on social media at any and every given opportunity. This is premised on the idea that if one is proud of their partner, then they wouldn’t hesitate to show him/her to the world like a prized possession. There is also the theory that if they are too private or secretive about the person they are dating, then it’s likely that they are also seeing someone else, and have resorted to privacy in a bid to cover their tracks.

In today’s social media timelines, it is commonplace to see tweets that run along the lines of:

“If he does not post you, then don’t post him”.

“If he only puts you on his Instagram stories and not his main posts, then you’re the side girl”.

“If she says she is private about her relationship with you, best believe that she is stringing four other guys along”.

It’s easy, however, to forget that some people find it hard to deal with the spotlight and potential scrutiny that comes with publicly flaunting relationships, and furthermore, they probably do not want to be seen as clingy. There are people who would rather keep things on the low so as to avoid people’s negative energy, or avoid slander from vindictive past lovers as well as plain hateful frenemies.

In many ways, part of what fuels this craze for social media validation of romantic affiliations is the trade-by-barter, chessboard style of relationships operated by many in today’s world.

“If he texts you only once a day, don’t text at all”.

“If he doesn’t use you as his profile picture on WhatsApp at least three times a week, open your DMs to other guys; he’s not serious”.

It all feels like a competition, like a game of draughts. We want to outsmart the other, we want to be the first to pull the plug, we want to make sure we inflict hurt first before our partner gets the chance to. It is the reason why we find it hard to commit lately: there are too many broken and empty people roaming around.

Ultimately, find someone who not only speaks the language of your heart, but who is also mature enough to navigate a relationship without caving in to external influences. If you follow the thought patterns reflected in your favourite social media influencer’s posts or you run along with what you see on Instagram’s popular relationship blogs, you will end up being miserable, and that is a promise.

Learn to love your partners without hindrance. It is a waste of time to try out romance without any significant emotional investment.

May we all find happiness.