It’s hard to overstate the importance of an online presence to young people today—yet a startling new claim by the website builder Squarespace may still shock you: “Gen Z find digital life more important and memorable than in-person life,” they wrote, after concluding a study on the digital habits of over 2,000 U.S. adults.
The company found that roughly 60 percent of adults under the age of 40 “believe how you present yourself online is more important than how you present yourself in person.” As you might imagine, this can contribute to some pretty surprising online habits—including some that apparently affect our romantic relationships. Read on to find out what one third of people admitted to doing online behind their partner’s back—and how it may be affecting your own relationship.
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With online presence being perceived with such importance, it’s perhaps no surprise that so many people secretly keep tabs on their partners’ social media profiles. This may include looking at their posts, tracking who has liked their posts, or taking note of the posts they’ve viewed or liked.
The Squarespace survey found that 32 percent of people will admit to looking up their current romantic partner at least once per week. The rates are far higher for younger people in relationships: 51 percent of Gen Z and 55 percent of Millennials regularly indulge in this online habit.
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The habit of looking up your current partner may have gained momentum because so many relationships begin online these days. If you’ve been matched with someone on a dating app or site, it’s now considered common practice to look up a date before meeting them IRL.
According to the survey, 86 percent of Gen Z and 79 percent of Millennials snoop online before meeting people for the first time. On the other hand, just 65 percent of Gen X and 44 percent of Baby Boomers do the same.
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While many view pre-date snooping as a basic part of online dating safety, some continue to do it during the early days of a relationship. An author from Mashable probed this very subject by sending out a survey of her own, and found that most of the respondents admitted to the usefulness of light snooping as a conversational tool. “I’ll run through [my date’s] social media again to see what I’ve missed and use that as an opportunity to ask them about themselves. Fun vacations, hobbies, etc.,” one 30-year old respondent shared.
Another respondent, Michelle Klejmont, a 24-year-old from New Jersey, added that for some, a little light snooping may simply be an extension of your in-person adoration. “I’m always looking at my boyfriend’s Instagram and looking through my camera roll at pictures and videos of him just because it makes me happy to see his face,” she explained. “He also confessed he stalks my Instagram just to look at my face too :).”
According to the Mashable survey, there’s a time limit on acceptable snooping as the relationship shapes up. “Almost everyone seemed to agree the snooping should stop after the relationship is exclusive. Some even said they stopped as early as after the first few dates,” the author wrote.
While checking a partner’s public profile is a far cry from probing their private lives, most say that it should become somewhat obsolete if your in-person relationship dynamic is strong enough.
In other words, your online presence may be essential early on, but ultimately, it’s the real life interactions that count the most after all.
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