Relationship advice has always been integrated into entertainment – columns in gossip magazines, TV programmes, and plenty of articles and books on the subject. The internet serves to open many more avenues to access this advice. For most people, romantic relationships are a key part of life. In any relationships, the ugly sides are sure to arise, where the issues and complications start to rear their heads. We’ve all been there: googling why hasn’t he texted me back? for the third time in a week. That’s when TikTok comes along. It’s fair to assume that TikTok has a huge influence on the way people view their own image and their relationships. It’s everywhere. It’s a social media platform which has overtaken many others, becoming one of the most used apps with an insanely huge audience, reporting one billion users as of September 2021. There are all sorts of subsections of TikTok pertaining to different interests – books, cooking, music, even more obscure communities on ‘DeepTok’. If you can name it, it’s probably somewhere on TikTok. So when it comes to relationships and the hardships associated, it can feel relieving to turn to somebody else who gets it, even if they’re only in a 10-second video on your home page. Suddenly it feels less lonely. But taking advice from the internet is a notoriously terrible idea. Particularly about something as nuanced as romantic relationships.
There is no one-size-fits-all approach which will work when it comes to the intricacies of a relationship between two individuals
People are complicated, so relationships are too. Everybody thinks differently. Everybody has different boundaries and expectations. There is no one-size-fits-all approach which will work when it comes to the intricacies of a relationship between two individuals. Wouldn’t it be easy if there was? You can’t google the answer to something like that, as much as I wish you could. A phrase which illustrates this one-size approach pretty well is one I’ve seen a lot on TikTok: if he wanted to, he would. At this point, it feels a bit overused. It’s not just TikTok – I’ve seen it on Twitter and Instagram too. To an extent, it makes sense: effort and devotion is what keeps relationships strong. But a lot of the time, it seems to be a go-to phrase for a lot of people when things are getting difficult. It’s easy to say ‘if he wanted to, he would’ as if it explains the underlying cause of all issues.
Social media is saturated with so many different opinions (and blatant misinformation, sometimes)
It’s a little bit frustrating. Life isn’t as simple as that as there are so many things in this world that we want to do, but there are also responsibilities and stress which come as part of the package of growing up. You may want to text your partner every hour of the day but you have two essays due tomorrow, or you’re doing a long shift at work, or you’re tired and fall asleep earlier than usual. You want to, but you don’t. Not through any disinterest of your own, but because you can’t. The phrase itself should not be taken literally. Rather, it means that you shouldn’t allow somebody to mistreat you; you should recognise your own worth within relationships, and you shouldn’t settle for somebody who doesn’t respect your part in their life. Some online dating advice advocates for drastic measures at the slightest miscommunication, and others say that you should stick it out if you really love them. Social media is saturated with so many different opinions (and blatant misinformation, sometimes).
It feels as if TikTok is promoting a type of relationship which advocates for co-dependency and a complete lack of regard for the circumstances in other people’s lives
Obviously, there are times when the person you’re investing yourself in is not returning the same energy. Sometimes ‘if he wanted to, he would’ becomes very apparent and the best option is to walk away from it. But that takes a lot of personal reflection. You shouldn’t advise somebody to leave their partner over arbitrary things such as a forgotten text message. It’s very unhealthy to live your entire life revolving around one other person and letting their actions dictate your mood. It feels as if TikTok is promoting a type of relationship which advocates for co-dependency and a complete lack of regard for the circumstances in other people’s lives. You as an individual will be entirely different to those people on TikTok. So will your relationship. There’s no ‘quick fix’ to relationship problems, no matter the stage of your relationship. Certainly not one that can be found on TikTok.