Real love vs. Insta love

If there’s one thing I have learned about love from Instagram, it’s that love is easy.

We’ve all seen the photos. The ones where it seems like some professional iPhone photographer has followed a couple around, documenting that time they both looked awesome at a friend’s wedding or had the perfect quiet evening together or gave each other happy piggybacks in a summer field. 

It seems as though their whole relationship is one perfect VSCOcam moment after another.

Love is always smiling.

Love is always in a good mood.

Love is full of romantic dates and adventures and delicious food you ate together.

Love is flawless.

Love is constant.

Love is always affirming, always well-dressed, always selfless, always the perfect mixture of silly and hopelessly serious.

In my experience, this is maybe half of what love is.

The other part of love, the one you won’t find on Instagram, consists of frustrations, insecurities, disagreements, awkward moments, exasperation, fatigue, and hard conversations. Among other things.

Yes, love is blissful. But love is also made up of the things two imperfect people face in order to have a healthy and genuine relationship. And let me tell you, they are not what you want to show the world.

This is why it’s so dangerous to judge the quality of our relationships based on an edited version of what others choose to present to us.

Though the pictures we see on Instagram of happy couples may be portraying real love and truth, I think we’re missing the full story.

This other part of love, the part we don’t hashtag, filter, or edit, is a part we should not be afraid to show other people.

In fact, I think being honest about the not-so-pretty moments of our relationships helps others gain a better understanding of what it means to love someone well, despite not having it all together all the time. It also keeps us honest and humble about our own struggles.  

I’m not saying we should start posting images of these types of moments — and I don’t even know how one would go about doing that. But when we realize that love, even healthy and good love, has its challenges, we can release the idea that our relationships have to be picture-perfect in order to be good. 

We can stop feeling less adequate than those laughing couples on our screens because we know they aren’t immune to conflict. We can cut ourselves some slack in our own relationships and stop freaking out when not every moment would earn 103 likes. 

We can let go of the expectation that love is supposed to be idyllic all the time.

Because even though it’s not, this doesn’t make it any less the real thing.

Photo (Flickr CC) by Ryan Pole.