A Therapist Tells You Why You Should Address 'Cloutlighting' Head On
When it comes to cloutlighting in your relationship, you have two choices: either address the harmful behavior immediately or move on.
By Jourdan Travers, LCSW | November 4, 2023
Cloutlighting refers to the exploitation of one’s most intimate relationships to gain online influence and popularity through manipulation and deception. It happens when individuals use one’s partner to create content, including practical jokes that often go too far or grand romantic gestures that are more plastic than pure, recording their reactions and sharing them with their online world.
The most damaging aspect of cloutlighting, apart from the obvious erosion of trust, is that the perpetrators almost never realize the emotional and psychological toll they exact on their partners. They may justify their actions as “just for laughs” or “sharing their happiness,” neglecting the potential consequences on their relationships.
Beneath the facade of entertainment, cloutlighting can damage even the most stable romantic partnerships in several ways. Here are three.
1. Erosion Of Authenticity
When individuals consistently present an idealized image of their relationship on social media, the pressure to sustain this facade can suppress honest communication and the expression of genuine emotions. Striving to meet the expectations of their online personas may lead couples to keep up this manufactured reality, preventing them from honestly sharing their feelings and concerns.
The desire for likes and shares can eclipse the fundamental elements of a healthy relationship, rooted in open and honest communication. Consequently, couples may conceal their true emotions, suppress concerns and neglect addressing issues that need resolution. This undermines the core of a strong partnership, where honesty and open communication are indispensable for building trust, emotional intimacy and mutual understanding.
Research confirms that viewing one’s partner as authentic results in improved relationship outcomes, including increased trust, stronger commitment and enhanced satisfaction. To maintain authenticity in the face of social media pressures:
- Embrace imperfections. Share real moments—the highs and the lows. Remember, people relate to authentic stories.
- Dedicate quality time without social media distractions, focusing on meaningful experiences together.
2. Erosion Of Privacy
Another concerning aspect of cloutlighting is the gradual loss of privacy. When one partner regularly discloses personal details, it can blur the line between what should remain private and what can be shared publicly. Despite precautions, research indicates that online social networks can inadvertently reveal connections between users, even when the networks are designed to anonymize identities.
This invasion of personal privacy can trigger discomfort and insecurity in the relationship, leading to reduced trust and emotional vulnerability. The loss of privacy can leave couples without the protective shield of personal space and private conversations, potentially straining the relationship and causing misunderstandings.
As the desire for public validation overshadows personal boundaries, it’s crucial for couples to address and navigate this loss of privacy to maintain a healthy and resilient connection.
To safeguard your relationship’s privacy on social media:
- Set clear boundaries for what aspects of your life stays private.
- Regularly check in with your partner to ensure that you’re both comfortable with the level of personal information being shared.
3. Unrealistic Expectations And Comparisons
Cloutlighting gives rise to unrealistic expectations and harmful comparisons in romantic relationships. Numerous studies indicate that social comparison generally has a negative impact on self-evaluation and emotions.
In the context of relationships, people often unknowingly measure their partnerships against unattainable standards set by seemingly flawless influencers. This can lead to dissatisfaction, jealousy and feelings of inadequacy. Partners may mistakenly believe their relationship should mirror the idealized versions they see online, resulting in conflict and discontent.
The constant comparison to these idealized images can divert attention from the unique qualities, dynamics and joys that make each relationship special and genuine. This diminishes the capacity to appreciate and nurture a bond, potentially undermining emotional well-being. Recognizing the worth of one's unique relationship is better than striving for an unrealistic ideal.
To address the issue:
- Cultivate gratitude for your unique bond. Make a habit of acknowledging and valuing what makes your relationship unique and fulfilling.
- Boost media literacy. Recognize social media's curated and filtered glimpses of reality. Discuss and remind each other that influencers and celebrities are not representative of everyday life.
Social media, despite its power, presents challenges such as cloutlighting, which can damage personal relationships. Understanding its impact and maintaining private communication aids couples in overcoming these challenges and maintaining a healthy, loving relationship. To increase likes and shares on your preferred social media platform, choose positive, benign and creative content that captivates and amuses your audience without causing harm or distress, especially to your loved ones.