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How To Launch A Relationship With An Offline Partner, According To A Her Campus Editor

Today, we’re talking about launching a relationship. In Ask An Editor, Her Campus Editors answer readers’ questions about how to be a human. This month, Her Campus’s Deputy Editor, Iman Hariri-Kia, hosts office hours. 

Dear Editor,

What’s the best way to soft launch your relationship when your S.O. isn’t into social media?

Sincerely, 

MTV’s Unplugged

Dear MTV’s Unplugged,

When I tell you I felt this so hard. I’ve been dating my partner for over five years and deal with this dilemma every d*mn day. While we love each other, know one another’s Sweetgreen orders, and agree that Ted Lasso is funny, the similarities essentially end there. We truly couldn’t be more different. As a writer and editor working in Digital Media, I am the internet’s wh*re. On the other hand, my partner hasn’t logged into Instagram since 2013 and basically only follows The Rock.

I still remember my own internet soft launch like it was yesterday. We were getting ready for a big, fancy party in a group of our shared friends. Somehow had brought a polaroid camera, and all the ladies were posing together. My partner had put his arm around me and shouted out to no one in particular, “Hey, can Iman and I get a picture?” We smiled, the flash went off, and seconds later, I had proof of our budding relationship, sitting in the palm of my hand. The next day, I posted it, among a collection of other polaroids, on Instagram. It was very subtle — a soft launch before launches were even soft, if you will. 

But because he doesn’t use social media, he never interacted with it; this is a line I’ve learned to tow over the years. Here are my tips:

Assess Your Partner’s Comfort Level 

One of the reasons I felt comfortable posting the polaroid, despite my partner’s discomfort with social media as a whole, was because of his insistence that we take a picture together. In the same way that I respect that he doesn’t like using Instagram or TikTok, he appreciates that I very much do. He saw me posting the photos we took as a group on my Instagram Story and used his own agency to decide whether or not he wanted to be a part of it. The choice was his, and by initiating his own participation, he allowed me to assess his comfort level properly. You can do the same by analyzing the situation. Do you have to beg your partner to insert themselves into your spaces? Do they hesitate when you’re in public? Is their body language toward or against you? All of these questions can factor into the truth. 

Once You Do, Respect Their Boundaries 

Once you assess your partner’s comfort level, you have to respect the boundaries that they set and use your own agency to decide whether or not they jive with yours. In other words, if your partner doesn’t want your relationship soft-launched, you have two choices. The first is to accept that communicated boundary and make peace with it, instead of trying to change your partner to bend to your will. The second is to communicate that, while you respect their decision, you need something different out of a relationship — and be prepared to walk away until you find someone who can provide you with that need. Remember: There’s strength in walking away, even when it makes you feel weak. I’ve cried over way too many people who didn’t share my boundaries, but I’ve never regretted drawing them. 

Double-Check That Social Media Is The Problem

There is absolutely nothing wrong with disliking social media or deciding to be an “offline” partner. Social media apps like Instagram, Twitter, and TikTok can give many people anxiety, mess with their sleep cycle, and more. But open up a dialogue with your partner and ensure that their discomfort around social media has more to do with them and less to do with you. It’s unfair for them to project their undecided or unresolved feelings about your developing relationship onto your social media activity. Do they not want to soft launch on their socials? Or do they not want to take off at all? Ask yourself the tricky question, then ask your partner. Enter the conversation ready to truly listen to what they have to say, and be prepared to leave it changed. 

Besties, the truth is that your partner doesn’t have to like social media to love and support you. Although my partner doesn’t have a digital footprint, he respects that I do. He’s always been my internet cheerleader — taking my Instagram pictures, telling me my TikToks are funny (they’re not), and reading my salacious articles. We never let it hold us back.

Why should you? 

Love,

Iman

Iman Hariri-Kia is a New York-based writer, author, and was the Her Campus Deputy Editor. A 2017 recipient of the Annabelle Bonner Medal and a nationally acclaimed journalist, she covered sex, relationships, identity, adolescence, and more. Her debut novel, A HUNDRED OTHER GIRLS, will be published in spring 2022.