What you need to know:
#couplegoals is envogue, but where is the limit on posting about your love life?
In an era where 'likes' and 'followers' reign as modern currency for validation, and where every fleeting moment finds its way onto social media, navigating the realm of romantic relationships requires a delicate balance.
For partners Sammy Maangi, 28, and Michelle Maangi, 25, social media is a platform where they share the raw emotions and intricacies of their relationship with the ever-watchful eyes of their fans. (Married on April 9th)
At first, Michelle recalls that she would incorporate her husband who was then her boyfriend on her TikTok videos @themaangis and he was okay but then the reception online made them consider starting their own YouTube channel.
"I never really intended to be on TikTok or be that YouTube couple but slowly I embraced the potential it had for us," Sammy says.
For the couple who tied the knot on April 9th this year, living life in the full glare of the uncertainties that come with 'exposing' their life on social media has been a bittersweet experience.
They share that the negative comments they have received are mostly personal attacks on their looks and relationship. "Most times we let them pass because we have been able to get a good following that helps address such issues. However, there are some comments that we respond to."
The young couple's underlying rule is that outside work, they should bond and do fun activities and bring social media to them not the other way around.
However, this has not made them immune to external influence. Michelle reveals, "We see what other people are doing, and sometimes it gets to us. At such times we go back to who we really are, where we come from and our journey," says Michelle.
They have also set boundaries to avoid pressure.
"We agreed that no form of pressure will allow us to cave in. See the truth is, what is private is not really private, we all need to define what private is to us and live by it," says Sammy.
Sammy says social media has opened up opportunities to reconnect with old friends, past romantic partners, and acquaintances.
The topic of former lovers could ignite a heated argument, and Michelle admits that in their early dating life, this was a thorn in the flesh.
"We have safe boundaries for their associations and when we do communicate, we do that with full knowledge of the other person," she clarifies.
Still, misunderstandings have arisen for the couple, especially during their early days of posting their relationship online.
"There was a video we did some time back that rubbed people the wrong way. The comments were very ruthless. People are hurting out here. It was a joke and people projected their insecurities and meted harsh words," Sammy explains.
This was an eye-opener for the couple and they sought counselling to understand how they could address their insecurities as well as deal with outsiders.
"We don't need to post each other as a form of gratification to or acknowledge each other, we only post because we want to. Our relationship is not a social media tool, if anything it's an easy storage for our memories."
According to a recent research couples who post each other on social media are not happy.
The findings revealed that among those who regularly posted 'couple content' (3+ times a week), over half (1040) reported feeling very unhappy (42 percent).
In contrast, couples who never shared such content were happier, with 46 percent expressing high levels of happiness. Furthermore, 32 percent of those who shared 'couple content' a few times a year or once a week reported being very happy noted the Brits survey conducted by Shotkit.
Naomi Muuo, 29, is one of those who believe social media brings strife to a union. Consequently, Naomi who has been married for one and a half years, keeps her relationship offline and only shares milestones.
"I believe in hiding and thriving. We are living life for ourselves and not for the people online. In turn, there is less stress. What sinks a ship is the water that comes in not the one that remains out, so we'd rather build us and block the outside water from coming in," she explains.
Naomi shares that they had a sit-down with her hubby about the digital space.
To them, discussing how much time and energy is invested in curating their online presence and what was to be shared and not was crucial in ensuring they are both on the same page.
"People online are very opinionated, and jump to conclusions rather fast, so to avoid all the commotions, we agreed to minimise our online presence as a couple."
Boundaries regarding tagging each other, sharing location data, or mentioning personal details on social media were not left to chance for security purposes and also to guard their private lives.
Naomi argues that sharing personal details makes one an easy target for stalking and cyberbullying. Though the couple still shares their anniversary, and birthday celebrations on social media, Naomi underscores that those important occasions are the only digital footprint they have.
"This is for my significant other to feel and know that I am not ashamed or embarrassed to be associated with them," says Naomi.
When one party is into social media and the other is not, conflicts are bound to exist. Naomi shares that her husband is not much into social media unlike herself and this would initially cause friction between them.
"There was a time I was actively posting us doing TikTok challenges on @Mwikali_makau. Despite his not liking the social media space, he would do it since it made me happy. One time, he told me that while I enjoy posting, he is not comfortable and would like to reduce to important days or once in a while," Naomi reveals.
Dennis and Peris Story
Some couples see the benefit of posting because of monetary gains. That is the case of Dennis, and Peris Murimi, both 31, who view social media from a business standpoint.
The duo who has been married for 3 and 1/2 years share that even on their personal social media accounts, they rarely post anything personal but share about the printing and branding business @makerfuse.
"We both understand why we need social media presence for our business," Peris explains.
The couple agree that when sharing their work online, they tag each other on the posts to reach a wider audience.
In a world that often confuses public displays of affection with the strength of a bond, Dennis and Peris find solace in knowing some things are best kept between two hearts.
"We have been able to focus on our anniversaries, birthdays, and other special moments in the confines of our little family, enjoying everything that the day or moment has to offer privately and intimately," Dennis stresses.
William and Racheal story
Unlike the Murimis, William Kamore (@kaymothitima) alias Kaymo and Racheal Gitau aka @pika_na_raych admits not only using social media for business but also for personal reasons. They have been challenges.
They say that comments from fans who are thirsting over either of them are something they have been through quite often.
Racheal says, "This is common, and we both have learnt to make peace with it. Some you will catch their intentions early, but you ignore them and move on with life. Additionally, we run our social accounts on a very professional level for official reasons. At times it is the account managers who get to handle comments and direct messages (DMs)."
According to the duo, posting each other is possible but sometimes quite cumbersome. William narrates that while it may look easy, the process of preparing for the photos and coming with a proper caption for them is hectic.
"It seems easy when you are outside looking in, but wait until you have gone to that designer, planned on the outfits, gone to the studio or engaged that photographer, taken those photos which take a week to be ready, then start preparing to post and all over sudden to remember you needed a 'caption'…this is the part where dreams literally die…" he laughs.
Being in the limelight, William and Racheal have ensured that their arguments do not see the light outside their bedroom.
However, even when they fight, Racheal says that they have not considered taking a break from posting about their relationship.
William emphasises, "Even when we are not in good terms, we will post each other. But we have learnt not to stay there for too long. I consider this as something going beyond emotional boundaries, it's now a social responsibility."
Though they have not discussed on what should and not be posted online, the two anchor their boundaries on their individual and family values. In their relationship, one can pull down the other's post depending on the projection of the broadcast.
"Personally, being the kind of open-minded and unconventional person I am, I can make very controversial statements and she pulls them down before bloggers even catch them. On the other hand, Racheal being a free spirit, will post things that I feel could be misinterpreted and I pull such posts down real quick," William shares.
The couple also sees their sharing as having a purpose. “We inspire others by showcasing a positive, healthy, loving and supportive partnership,” says Racheal.
In so doing they hope to demystify the unrealistic expectations of couples. "We want to be transparent about the ups and downs of relationships, demonstrating that every relationship requires effort, understanding, and compromise," William says.
Grace Kariuki, a marriage and family therapist, advises that it is important for couples to consider individual feelings of each other before posting their relationship online.
"If one partner is not comfortable with it, then it is important to respect that and not post. The other thing to consider is the WHY of posting your relationship online. What is the point? What is the goal? Then if you are both on the same page, identify the boundaries on what should be posted and not," she adds.
There are couples who developed insecurities, are unhappy and fight over outsiders who like their partner's pictures or posts.
Grace urges couples to think relationally rather than individually. "If you are too enraged by your partner's page, then you can unfollow them to reduce your triggers. If your partner is constantly triggered by your posts and how others are reacting to them, avoid being defensive or labelling them as insecure, and be more curious about why they feel the way they do. Offer empathy and compassion and then agree to create appropriate boundaries while using social media," the therapist advises.
Pros and cons
Grace explains that while the pros of posting too much of your relationship online only benefit those making money from it, the foundation remains the same across the board.
"Lack of boundaries permeates through most of the publicised relationships. What I have seen is that once there are no boundaries, then couples when fighting will post their fights online. This shouldn't happen because it creates a lot of animosity and resentment in the relationship," she advises.
A Shotkit survey which involved more than 2000 Brits saw couples give reasons as to why they refrained from posting materials or posts on social media in their relationships. Many cited privacy concerns emanating from a lack of boundaries, fear of being embarrassed, and some attributed it to their limited usage of social media.
Grace says couples should protect the sanctity of their relationship whatever the cause.
"Do not give the public power to "enter" your relationship by putting it all out in the open. Too much is when one of you or both of you feel exposed by the online posting of what you are experiencing in the relationship."