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Ask Anna: My boyfriend wants us to become a TikTok couple

Anna Pulley, Tribune News Service on

Published in Dating Advice

Dear Anna,

I'm a 28-year-old woman living in Brooklyn, New York, with my boyfriend of two years, who's been getting more and more enthralled with the world of TikTok lately. He's always been big on social media, way more so than me, and he recently brought up this idea of us evolving into a “TikTok couple.” Now he's picturing us posting synchronized dance moves, funny skits or sharing intimate parts of our daily lives with a potentially huge audience. (But, I mean, right now he has only a couple hundred followers.)

While I'm not entirely against the idea, and I do find some of those couple posts adorable, I can't help but feel a bit reluctant. My privacy is something I value and the thought of exposing our relationship on such a public platform is daunting. Moreover, I’m afraid our relationship dynamics might change — that we might start staging moments for likes rather than living in them. I want to support his interests without completely stepping out of my comfort zone. How do I deal with this? — Privacy Preserving Partner

Dear PPP,

The pull of TikTok fame (or social media virality in general) catches many people’s attention. Who doesn’t want the eyes and ears of a global audience, popularity, and a chance to earn cash while spreading messages or causes that are important to us? While his interest is understandable, your hesitation in stepping into the spotlight makes perfect sense, too.

First, you need to understand why he's so attracted to the idea of becoming a TikTok couple in the first place. Is it for the fun, the possibility of fame, a creative outlet or a potential side hustle? Is he trying to leverage a career in content writing, marketing or videography and using TikTok as a launching pad? Once you gain more insight into his motivations, it'll be easier to address the situation and make sure you’re both on the same page.

Establishing clear and firm boundaries is the next step. Discuss your concerns about privacy and determine precisely what aspects of your relationship you're comfortable sharing online. (And check out this previous column on digital consent, while you’re at it.)

You might also want to reach out to actual TikTok couples you admire and ask for their advice. (There are probably TikTok videos about this very topic as well, to make this enterprise even more meta.)

When thinking about possible limits, here are some topics and questions to consider:

—Boundaries brainstorm: What kind of content are you happy to be part of vs. content that makes you feel squicky? You might be more comfortable with funny stunts or dance moves rather than imparting relationship advice, for instance.

—Veto power: Agreeing that no video will be posted unless you both approve, and setting aside specific times for recording to ensure it doesn't overtake your free time together.

 

—IRL rules: Alongside defining boundaries, it's important to consider how much becoming a TikTok couple might change the dynamics of your relationship. Ensure he understands that you value authentic moments that aren't staged for viewers.

—Potential audience: Who will likely be viewing and interacting with your content? Friends, family, coworkers, strangers? Are you comfortable with all these people knowing about your relationship?

—Permanency of digital content: Internet content can be basically forever, even if deleted. Would you feel comfortable if your posts appeared years later?

—Conflict resolution: How will you handle disagreements about what to post, comments from viewers or negative feedback?

—Image management: What sort of image or brand do you want for your relationship online? How would you like others to see your relationship through your posts?

—Role division: Who will manage what aspects of your online presence? One of you? Both? Who handles filming, editing, posting, responding to comments, etc.?

—Exit strategy: If one or both of you decides you’re no longer comfortable with your relationship being public, what steps will you take to reverse course?

—Impact on future opportunities: How might your online presence affect your current job or future employment opportunities?

If, after talking and thinking some of these points through, it’s determined that your boundaries are too restrictive for your boyfriend’s TikTok goals, consider suggesting a compromise. Maybe he could stick with his solo account and include you only in content that you're truly comfortable with.

Remember, it's OK to protect your privacy and to want some aspects of your relationship to remain only between the two of you. Communicate your worries openly, compromise where possible and hold onto what makes your relationship special beyond hearts and comments.


©2024 Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

 

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