The New Dating Rule You Need to Know About

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Technology in the dating arena is completely unavoidable: We all live and breathe Facebook and Instagram — because if we’re not posting pictures and updating our statuses, did anything we do actually happen? Our dating lives are largely centered around social media: Pictures of and with our significant others, along with exclamations of “In a Relationship With.” Forgotten are the real life mandates of relationship maintenance, which used to be a well-timed compliment, planned weekly dates, surprise mini-adventures, full-blown vacations, and of course, anniversary gifts.

We’ve now added a new dating requirement to the list, further drawing our relationships and interactions into the digital sphere: liking photos and posts on Facebook and Instagram. We now expect our significant others to “like” our pictures on Facebook and “love” our Instagram posts. Although it may sound like a silly request and almost not that big of a deal because your partner should support you in everything you do, even if it’s as mundane as “liking” a picture on Facebook, not doing this can have real life consequences on your relationship.

The expectations, as with everything else in dating, are not clear cut. We just seem to love when people like our stuff, especially if it’s the people we love. Research from PSFK has shown that those small Instagram hearts and mini red flags give us something akin to a high; it boosts our oxytocin levels, which is the stress reducing hormone, giving us a feeling similar to falling in love. This sort of high, one can only assume, is doubled when the person you’re in love with double taps your photo on Instagram. This double-love like feeling can be as addicting to the social media habits themselves.

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At the end of the day, all this finger tapping is about seeking validation from the one you love, as well as garnering their attention in the same way one does in real life. Martin Graff, a psychology professor at the University of South Wales, who studies social media and romantic relationships, told Mic, “Demanding validation could be indicative of low self-esteem.”

He continues: “On the other hand, if we are close to our partners and love them, then we give validation unconditionally.” Perhaps since social media plays such an important role in many of our lives, liking and loving photos is just another layer to the validation that we seek from our significant others.

The lesson here: Don’t forget to like your partners photos — it may be making them happier than you think.

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