How to not get upset if my partner sees my friends' news before me?
May 21, 2013 5:29 PM   Subscribe

A few times, my partner has seen news (on Facebook mostly) from friends such as my siblings and their partners, before I have. I get very upset when this happens. Is this irrational? Is there any good way to cope with it?

I live overseas from my family and childhood friends and none of us call or email each other all that often, though I feel fairly up to date with what's happening in their lives. Facebook is a big part of this, though I'm no big fan of social networks. We live fairly close to my partner's family - they talk a lot on the phone and see each other a fair bit.

A while back, my partner told me (having read on Facebook) that my sister and her partner were planning a big overseas trip - which, by deduction, might include a visit to our part of the world. I was pretty upset to learn this from my partner. At the time, it felt that the delivery was at the same time glib, and also like a form of point scoring ('I know something you don't!'), though I doubt it was intended this way. I tried to explain why I was upset at hearing this secondhand, this came out as anger, and we ended up arguing about it.

On another occasion, I had seen, but not yet read, a lengthy post from a childhood friend who doesn't post very often. I was looking forward to reading it when I had a moment - but my partner told me happily what was in it. At this point, I asked that my partner please not tell me about any posts from my family and friends; I'd rather read them firsthand.

But this hasn't made me feel any better. There have been occasions when I've seen my partner has already commented on a friend's post. It makes me sad to feel I'm coming late to the party. Today my partner said a simple 'oh' when I relayed a significant item of news from my brother, having already (I later realised) seen the news on Facebook, and feeling unsure how to handle it. It makes me sad that me and my partner don't now share this news and discuss it - a situation I've created.

I think my partner thinks it's totally irrational of me to be upset by receiving news later, or secondhand. Perhaps it is?

Or perhaps my discontent is just a consequence of the tensions involved in sharing personal information in a semi-public arena? Do other people experience this too?

Would appreciate hearing about people's thoughts on this, any ideas for strategies or actions I should take - or how to just feel less sad about this.

posted by skippy_gal to Human Relations (31 answers total)
If you want to see stuff at the same time/before your partner does then you need to spend more time on Facebook. Personally, I think "getting over it" is easier.

Yes, I think you are being irrational over this. What, exactly, is your partner supposed to do differently? Not mention anything about your family unless you bring it up first?
posted by It's Never Lurgi at 5:35 PM on May 21, 2013 [79 favorites]

If you express this upset to anyone, it should be to people who share things publicly instead of directly with you, when you want to be 'the first to know'. It sounds like you want to be more closely involved with your family and friends, instead of merely one of the group that gets public news - why not start emailing them or calling them?

It is certainly not your partners fault that people are making information public rather than telling you in person, and refusing to talk about anything that they learn from facebook instead of through you sounds awkward and childish.
posted by jacalata at 5:36 PM on May 21, 2013 [17 favorites]

It might feasibly be reasonable for you to upset that, say, your sister didn't let you know about her trip before posting on Facebook (although that one doesn't really... but maybe for various big, personal news), but it is irrational and cruel to take it out on your Partner for happening to get to Facebook first.
posted by brainmouse at 5:36 PM on May 21, 2013 [20 favorites]

I sort of feel like a responsible grown-up would tell you to get off of social media, and that way people would be forced to reach out to you privately and blah blah and social media is making you unhappy so don't use it, as people are usually wont to say, as though that might make it cease to exist...

But maybe part of your solution might involve a smartphone and settings so it dings whenever your nearest and dearest so much as upload their lunch to Instagram?

(I do think your reaction is irrational, though, and it does make me sad that this isn't something you can enjoy with your partner -- view it as an enhancement of your relationship that he's got good access to the goings-on of your inner circle, etc. As is it seems sort of...competitive? Insecure? I would try to assess if it isn't a problem with the relationship and the Facebook stuff is a red herring)
posted by kmennie at 5:38 PM on May 21, 2013 [1 favorite]

I don't think it's an irrational feeling. It's nice to hear news directly from people, and you're missing that.

That said, I can't think of anything you could do about it short of asking your partner to feign ignorance and excitement when you tell them news (which might be a solution!). I think in general, though, it's just something that kind of sucks that we all have to adapt to.
posted by no regrets, coyote at 5:45 PM on May 21, 2013 [1 favorite]

yeah, I get a weird feeling about this. You being angry at your partner for this doesn't really make a lot of sense. Are you jealous of your partner getting some attention from people who are supposed to be "yours"?

Maybe think about it from the flip side? What would it be like if you were to think, "I'm so glad I have a partner who can be friends with my friends and family. It's nice to see them interact without me having to facilitate."
posted by dawkins_7 at 5:49 PM on May 21, 2013 [7 favorites]

It sounds like you miss your family and friends more than you say. I would set up some regular skype/google hangout meetings so you can connect face to face.
posted by florencetnoa at 5:51 PM on May 21, 2013 [3 favorites]

I'm on the opposite side of this. My brother is not on Facebook, but his live-in girlfriend is and she and I are friends. My brother has asked (nicely, and with humor) that I tell him any big news first so that he's not finding out things about me from his girlfriend.

He's had a long family history of always feeling "out of the loop" on important news, so while I actually think it's cool that his girlfriend is cluing him in, I get where he's coming from, and I've started to reach out to him more through email or phone. I think it helped that I let him know I wasn't trying to cut him out, either.

I was willing to make an effort for him because (a) he's my brother, (b) it's a longstanding issue for him and I try to be sensitive to that, and (c) he's not on Facebook at all, so he really was missing information, not just getting it late. If a friend who was on Facebook had made the same request, I'd definitely shift them into the "high-maintenance" category in my mind.

To me, this anxiety you're having seems to be something you need to come to terms with. I suspect that it would paradoxically help if you started reaching out to your friends and family more often -- it sounds like you're missing them, and that's probably more of the underlying issue than the Facebook thing.

And definitely give your partner a break on all this.
posted by jaguar at 5:57 PM on May 21, 2013 [1 favorite]

I'm getting the feeling that this might be related to being far away from your family and also not being in close contact with them. I live far away from my family too, and when I find out stuff via FB, instead of in a more personal way, I feel shitty. This is because 1) it makes me feel even more far away when I find out when everyone else does, and.2) it reminds me that I am terrible at making phone calls and initiating personal contact myself and I've probably brought this on myself. It makes me feel alienated.

If this sounds in any way familiar, I'd suggest trying to reach out to family members outside of social media, one on one in order to forge closer relationships. Alternatively, the suggestion to get a smart phone and have it ping when there are posts might help you be more on top of things. You might not be a fan of social media, but in this scenario you need to either embrace it and work with it, or bypass it and communicate in other ways proactively. And yeah, this isn't your partners fault so it's important to find out what's really the cause of these feelings and then do something about it.
posted by DrGirlfriend at 6:00 PM on May 21, 2013 [7 favorites]

This is an irrational reaction. You can either make it your business to be on FB 24/7 to prevent missing new news and getting the first comment/like registered, or you can investigate what's really bothering you. Partner is engaged and interested in your family and friends and wants to share that with you and you respond with getting angry, being weirdly territorial about semi-public info, and fighting.

The bigger issue in my mind is that you're getting most of your interaction with family and friends via FB status updates. I can see why that's not fulfilling your need for sharing on a directly personal level. FB is not enough for you and getting mad at your partner about that isn't fair or appropriate. Apologize to partner and find a way to carve out some time for more catching up with friends and family via phone/facetime/skype/email/google hangouts.
posted by quince at 6:01 PM on May 21, 2013 [4 favorites]

"I think my partner thinks it's totally irrational of me to be upset by receiving news later, or secondhand. Perhaps it is?"


"Or perhaps my discontent is just a consequence of the tensions involved in sharing personal information in a semi-public arena?"

You need to follow the thought process and give thought to why it bothers you. Is it that you feel less important by not finding out news first?

Regardless, the issue has nothing to do with your partner.
posted by 2oh1 at 6:03 PM on May 21, 2013 [4 favorites]

perhaps my discontent is just a consequence of the tensions involved in sharing personal information in a semi-public arena?
I think it's this, and it sounds like you have a Fear of Missing Out. I agree, you need to explore this. You aren't really being fair to your partner to both require his silence and desire his sharing of news.
posted by sm1tten at 6:07 PM on May 21, 2013

it's irrational, and it's something you should try to get over.
posted by cupcake1337 at 6:12 PM on May 21, 2013 [1 favorite]

Is this irrational?


Is there any good way to cope with it?

Consider your partner a valid vector for information about your family and be interested when they provide it.
posted by 256 at 6:14 PM on May 21, 2013 [7 favorites]

I think what's bothering you is not that your partner read your sister's plans about her trip first; but that your sister didn't call you to tell you she was visiting your neck of the woods. I would be upset about this too. You want to feel like you matter more to her than her random FB friends do, and that she would want to connect with you about her plans. So would I. I'd be really hurt if my close friends or family did this.

But don't take it out on your partner for reading FB more than you do. That's not where the problem lies.
posted by fingersandtoes at 6:16 PM on May 21, 2013 [3 favorites]

Given Facebook's weird and unpredictable algorithms for what's displayed in feed, it's worth considering whether you'd have missed certain bits of news if your partner hadn't called them to your attention.

Start sending the people who matter to you personal e-mails, sharing your news and asking for theirs, if you want to be in the loop before they go public with things. It's reasonable to be sad that you are far away, reasonable to be upset that you aren't the first to know anyone's news, reasonable to feel out of the loop, but blaming your partner for the way you use Facebook is unreasonable and unfair. I am not trying to read your mind, here, but are you sure you aren't angry at your partner because you are far away from home and s/he isn't? I don't know whether that's a reasonable way for you to feel or not, but if that's the real issue, it's worth dealing with more directly.
posted by gingerest at 6:17 PM on May 21, 2013 [2 favorites]

Yeah, this is something to explore in yourself; it doesn't sound like your partner's done anything wrong, or indeed, has any available options that would satisfy you aside from "don't use facebook". Suppose they did: would it stop there? Would you want to be the first to read twitter or blogs as well? Emails?
posted by ead at 6:22 PM on May 21, 2013

One thing you could do is add some people to your "close friends" list on facebook and then have facebook alert you (via email or even text I think, whatever you check most often) when they post anything, so that you're somewhat more likely to see that stuff first.

Because yeah, it's pretty unreasonable to be annoyed at your partner about this. I get why it's annoying - but it's the situation that's annoying, not anything your partner's doing.

(I found out when my niece was born a month early from my sister's sister-in-law's facebook post about HER new niece, because the text my brother-in-law sent me didn't go through. I was RIPSHIT, but it was really no one's fault except maybe mine for having a weird mobile carrier that didn't accept photo messages.)
posted by mskyle at 6:23 PM on May 21, 2013

No, you're not being irrational. And yes, it is valid to feel hurt when you feel like your partner is closer to "your" people (ie: the ones you would get in a breakup) than you are.

I believe that Facebook and the social structures (sharing news in large groups, less solid one-on-one contact) it encourages are a very real part of our lives, and people need to learn some new politenesses.

In this situation, your partner is the one who should back off and not comment on or share news from a limited group of "your" people until you have a chance to get to them. Like, you set aside your immediate family and a select handful of old/close friends that your partner doesn't have close ties to and say that you want until 6pm to discover the day's news yourself.

You're going to have to relax a little and accept your partner saying, "I know, and XYZ!" sometimes when you relay news, but it is very reasonable for him not to spoil things for you, without you having to become a compulsive Facebooker.

Yeah, it's a good idea to phone and email, and be the kind of person you want to be in that keeping-in-touch way, but you can't control how well your friends participate in that. Can't control your partner, either, but you have more room for leverage/compromise there.
posted by itesser at 6:24 PM on May 21, 2013 [1 favorite]

It seems to me that feelings are almost by definition irrational, so it isn't really profitable to evaluate them on a scale of rationality. If you have strong feelings about this particular dynamic, it might be informative to try to explore WHY you feel that way. If my wife and I had this particular issue, it seems to me that we'd try to talk about what exactly she felt and try to learn when and why she felt that way. That way, instead of feeling put out like my reading of facebook somehow was the cause of a problem, but rather that it was a situation we could work together to find solutions to. I don't know if you and your partner can find an easy solution to your feelings, but I'm pretty sure that it will go better for both of you if you feel like you are working on it together as a team. Your sense of distance that you can't discuss the events in your mutual lives and your partner's sense that they need to walk on eggshells around social networking issues are both potentially damaging and it seems to me that they don't need to be. Bring your partner in by asking for their help in exploring your feelings and finding work-arounds (one before the other!) and I think it turns into a more manageable problem.

Labeling your feelings irrational or unreasonable is unhelpful, in my view. They are what they are. Try to understand what they are, where they come from and how to deal with them effectively -- don't beat yourself up because those feelings aren't logical. Also, don't beat your partner up because you have these feelings. Your partner didn't create them, they just brought them to the surface. If you can both engage in understanding what they are and finding ways to mitigate them together, everything else will go much more smoothly, I think.
posted by Lame_username at 6:27 PM on May 21, 2013 [1 favorite]

Your partner is doing nothing wrong. The fact that you are upset by it is unfortunate. If you want them not to talk about things before you read them, that's all well and good, and can be accomplished, but you really have no right to be upset at someone just because they know something before you do. If you really want to be better connected and know more about what your family and friends are doing, than you should take the initiative to contact them more via email, phone, skype, etc., so that you are more in the loop with what is happening. Chances are, any news they are sharing on facebook is something that they've been thinking about or discussing for a while outside of facebook, and if you were to talk to them regularly, you would probably know about it earlier.
posted by markblasco at 7:01 PM on May 21, 2013 [1 favorite]

If you want to be in the know, you should keep in closer touch with people via phone, email, and one-to-one interactions that lead to learning things before they are posted to Facebook.
posted by juliplease at 8:49 PM on May 21, 2013 [1 favorite]

> I was looking forward to reading it when I had a moment - but my partner told me happily what was in it. At this point, I asked that my partner please not tell me about any posts from my family and friends; I'd rather read them firsthand.

But this hasn't made me feel any better. There have been occasions when I've seen my partner has already commented on a friend's post. It makes me sad to feel I'm coming late to the party. Today my partner said a simple 'oh' when I relayed a significant item of news from my brother, having already (I later realised) seen the news on Facebook, and feeling unsure how to handle it. It makes me sad that me and my partner don't now share this news and discuss it - a situation I've created.

Right, so pick one. Do you want your partner to share knowledge of family news with you or not? You're unhappy with your partner when she/he tells you, and you're unhappy with your partner when she/he doesn't tell you.

Back up, though, it sounds to me like you're really peeved that your friends and family share things semi-publicly before contacting you personally. It's okay to be not-thrilled with the brand new world of disseminating personal news via Facebook, but why are you mad at your partner for...seeing what they share? Since you do have an active account, it's not unreasonable for your family and friends to assume that you're in the loop regarding whatever they post.

If it's important to you to be more current than your partner with what your own family is sharing...then that it is totally within your power. Being jealous of your partner is kind of like shooting the messenger.

If you want more familial intimacy than what they're offering on FB, you've got a world of non-social-media technology at your disposal to help you out with that. Pick up the phone to say hi or schedule some Skype time with your far-flung relatives/friends to get more of the scoop.
posted by desuetude at 9:54 PM on May 21, 2013 [3 favorites]

it sounds like you are being competitive with your partner. it would probably be a good thing to look at and figure out why. romantic relationships aren't meant to be competitive. if you want closer relationships with family and friends then i think making the effort to be in better contact with them would be the thing to do rather than taking it out on your partner.
posted by wildflower at 11:12 PM on May 21, 2013 [1 favorite]

It makes me sad that me and my partner don't now share this news and discuss it - a situation I've created.

I think my partner thinks it's totally irrational of me to be upset by receiving news later, or secondhand. Perhaps it is?

You were upset that they told you about news, and now you are upset that they don't discuss news that they know.

It's not entirely irrational -- there's one way this would make sense, if you felt they shouldn't be friends with these people on facebook at all, but that would be very controlling of you, and many people don't like their partners controlling who they interact with. If you don't feel that way, yes, you are being irrational.

You partner is taking the high road in thinking you are irrational.
posted by yohko at 1:33 AM on May 22, 2013

This is very irrational. If you want to get the news first then stay on fb more, which is just silly. Be thankful that you are with a man who is plugged into your life. He is interested in your friends and family in a healthy way and wants to discuss them with you.

You aren't a terrible person. You are reacting inappropriately because of certain factors. You need to figure out what those factors are.
posted by myselfasme at 3:19 AM on May 22, 2013

I aint gonna judge you cos feeling are feelings and its pretty brave to talk about them especially when you think they might be irrational or childish.

You have already done the hard bit. Now what can you do to avoid feeling upset and having arguments.

Well you have to decide whether your feelings are rational and adult. If you decide they are maybe your SO will remove your family and friends from his news feed and solve the problem.

If you decide that your feelings are irrational or less than adult you need to get to the bottom of it. Talking to somebody who is detached from the situation will probably help.
posted by BenPens at 4:55 AM on May 22, 2013

Is this irrational?
Yes. If it's been announced on Facebook, it's been announced to every friend on Facebook, including your partner. it's not reasonable to expect your partner (or anyone else) to not read that information on the off chance that you might not have gotten to it yet.

Is there any good way to cope with it?
Ask your family to communicate important news to you directly before posting it on Facebook?

I think this may be the real issue: you're "no big fan of social networks" and it seems to be bothering you that people are using them to communicate with each other instead of directly with you. This isn't your partner's fault; let him or her off the hook on this one.
posted by ook at 7:23 AM on May 22, 2013 [1 favorite]

I know you don't really like social networks, but Facebook in this case is really a *tool* to help you keep up with your friends/family and you can help guarantee you see their news in roughly real-time. Put these people on your Close Friends list, and then check that news feed first everytime you log in to FB and if it isn't overkill, turn on notifications so you see every time they update at all. I promise you'll feel more like you know what's going on with them, and probably before your partner does (he probably doesn't have YOUR family on his Close Friends list, right?)
posted by mokudekiru at 9:53 AM on May 22, 2013

Yes, you're being irrational and totally unfair to your partner. The best solution to this would be for you to be in better contact with your friends in family, since you seem to have no interest in checking facebook more often than you already are.
posted by echo0720 at 6:02 PM on May 22, 2013

Would you feel any better if your partner said, "Hey dear, have you seen your brother's Facebook today?" and left you to read it? Husband and I sometimes have a similar dynamic - he's online more, and he'll say, "Did you see...?" and let me respond with "Yep, read it." or "No, tell me more!" or "Shush, I'm going to go read it now!" I don't think you can fairly be upset that your partner uses Facebook more than you do, but it could be a kindness to let you read the news in the family member's "voice", rather than your partner's.
posted by orangejenny at 9:39 AM on May 24, 2013

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