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Sex + Relationships

The Beauty of Private—But Not Secret—Relationships

The opinions expressed in this article are the writer’s own and do not reflect the views of Her Campus.

With a new relationship comes feelings of excitement and nervousness surrounding the unknown. Factor in outside influences such as social media and the opinions of friends, family members, or coworkers, and it’s easy for your own perspective to get wrapped up and lost among the views of others. In a world where even the most intimate part of our lives are highly publicized, it’s important to remain true to ourselves and keep the private aspects of our life, well, private. Wanting to show off your partner and discuss your relationship with those outside of it is healthy, but the key to a long-term relationship is ensuring it’s kept private, without being completely secretive. 

Instagram Official

Once a relationship is deemed exclusive and the words “boyfriend” and “girlfriend” are thrown around, the age of social media begs us to define the relationship in another way: by being “Instagram Official.” This just entails Instagramming a picture of you and your partner together, but according to Madi Feller of Elle Magazine, the act carries a lot of weight. “Going Insta Official is a very public way of saying ‘Yes, I am in a relationship with this person, and I’m ready for the whole world to know,’ which is a pretty big deal,” Feller states. This phenomenon can put a lot of pressure on couples: pressure to make the perfect first post, and then afterwards, the pressure to post each other frequently on various social media platforms.

Some people are more ingrained in the world of social media than others. I enjoy posting on Instagram much more than my boyfriend, so it makes sense I deemed us “Instagram Official” before he did. Some couples might see this as a red flag, but it never concerned me because my partner very rarely shares his life with his followers. That being said, this judgment should be done on a case by case basis. If my boyfriend posted pictures of his friends all the time and never me? Red flag. If I thought he was hiding me from certain people in his life? Red flag. That is not privacy — that is secrecy.

No matter our personal opinions about social media, it dominates a large portion of our lives and speaks for who we are; if your dog or friend from high school you barely speak to anymore is on your Instagram, your partner should be too. That being said, I don’t believe constantly posting your partner on Snapchat or Instagram is necessary. I use social media as a way to share my boyfriend and I’s favorite memories and pictures together, but I don’t post selfies on my Snapchat every time we spend time with one another. Your followers don’t need to know about every moment you and your partner spend together, I promise. Your relationship will be more intimate as a result of keeping some moments just between you and your significant other. 

Keep your friends close, but your partner closer.

Spilling all the details of a hookup to your friends is arguably the best part of casual dating. For a private long-term relationship, refraining from sharing every disagreement and part of your sex life is key. Venting and asking for advice occasionally can be healthy, but bringing up every instance your partner bothers you can become problematic. It may cause your friends to dislike your partner and turn insignificant disagreements into larger issues. 

Similarly, not every “good” detail about your relationship needs to be shared. Maybe you had really amazing sex or a nice talk about the future of your relationship and are eager to share with your friends. If you are excited about your relationship it’s natural to want to share the details with those close to you, but keeping some moments between you and your partner can deepen your relationship and make the two of you feel closer. 

Stay away from PDA

I’ve never been a huge one for public display of affection (PDA). Whether I see a couple making out in a public space or the person I am with wants to be super touchy in the presence of others, I am uncomfortable. Some people love PDA, and even though my love language is physical touch, I am just not one of them. 

Anna Sitar, a popular creator on TikTok, posted a video several months ago that I keep thinking about on this topic. In the first part of the video, Anna is standing in her kitchen and the text on the screen reads “when he is super touchy & romantic in public.” In the next clip, she is excitedly dancing around in her kitchen with the words, “when he is so subtle that no one knows if you’re together or not” on the screen. The overall caption for the video is “private but not secret relationships are hot” and I’d have to agree. My favorite moments in public with my boyfriend are stealing glances from each other in a crowded room, quick hand holds and squeezes that still make butterflies flap in my stomach over a year and a half later, and a brush of his lips against my cheek. 

Not everyone agrees with Anna and I, and that’s okay. The comment section sparked some controversy, but I think that’s because not everyone understands the concept of a private relationship. You are not embarrassed or trying to hide your partner; in fact, I enjoy showing my boyfriend off. A private relationship entails not sharing every detail with those who aren’t involved and keeping some things sacred. To me, it is a sign of maturity and an opportunity to grow closer with the person you love.  

Erin Renzi

Emerson '23

Erin is a junior studying journalism with a minor in publishing at Emerson College. She spends her free time in the gym, taking yoga and cycling classes, and trying out different restaurants and boba spots in Boston. Her obsession of Taylor Swift and cats make up a big part of her personality — and she's proud of that. Erin is an editor and writer for several publications on Emerson's campus and hopes to be a sex and relationships writer, style or beauty editor or music critic for a magazine in the future. Watch out, Cosmo!
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