How #CoupleGoals Affect Our Relationships

young black couple creating content at home on their smart phone

Hernandez & Sorokina / Stocksy

I’m sure we have all been guilty of scrolling online and viewing certain couples as #CoupleGoals or #RelationshipGoals. Some individuals may have even used the hashtag, or found themselves wondering how their current or future relationships would compare or fit the mold. After all, it is human nature to compare yourself to others and social media has certainly made this propensity a lot more accessible.

However, while it may seem like harmless fun, this trend can lead to the endorsement of unhealthy expectations. After all, online representations of relationships only show a glimpse or aestheticized version of particular partnerships. Therefore, let’s take a moment to stop and ask ourselves, how does #CoupleGoals affect our relationships?

What Are #CoupleGoals and #RelationshipGoals?

While the true origin of the trend is difficult to pinpoint, the hashtags #CoupleGoals and #RelationshipGoals are used on social media as a means to comment on all kinds of relationships, from celebrities to fictional characters on TV and in film.

They are usually deployed when individuals want to celebrate good relationship presentations or characteristics seen as admirable.

“People who comment on the relationships of others do so, hoping to achieve their own goals, which they see born out in those relationships,” says Yuko Nippoda, psychotherapist and spokesperson for the UK Council for Psychotherapy (UKCP). “They are really expressing what kind of relationship they want to have,” she adds.

In contrast, others choose to use these hashtags as a means to portray an image of a healthy, happy relationship to the public. The reasons for this vary, but according to Nippoda, it can be simplified by understanding that people tend to feel good about themselves when they are recognized and acknowledged by other people or society. “In particular, thinking they are influencing many others makes people feel powerful,” she says.

People who comment on the relationships of others do so, hoping to achieve their own goals, which they see born out in those relationships. They are really expressing what kind of relationship they want to have.


In the case of celebrities, influencers, or famous people, the image presented is also good publicity for their careers. But this is where the risk lies. “[After all], the images posted can be false and show their relationships as they wish them to be,” she adds.

Why Do Some People Choose to Follow the #CoupleGoals Trend?

Evidently, the reasons people choose to follow particular trends are far-reaching. However, Jordan Russell, an educator, and administrator, believes that this trend is attractive because people tend to have a habit of idealizing everything they see on social media.

Particularly with the shift of relationships and dating into the digital age and the infinite access to the personal lives of other people, this behavior may seem even more attractive. “Real connection and healthy dating situations seem even more difficult to find, [so having] #RelationshipGoals gives people hope,” he says.

Russell and his wife, Richel Cuyler, a programmer, have been together since 2011 and married in October 2022. Regarding their relationship, they never modeled it on other couples. Additionally, neither believe in the trend, though they can appreciate the positives of having goals to live up to. However, Russell states that most of these tend to be performative and advises people to tread cautiously.

Real connection and healthy dating situations seem even more difficult to find, [so having] #RelationshipGoals gives people hope.


Regarding his own relationship, he shares that it went through many phases and different financial setups. “We went from being long-distance to living together and then to being apart again,” he says. Thus, it worked out beneficial for their partnership not to have couple goals due to their lives always shifting in the early part of the relationship.

Instead, they chose to keep their relationship private and even ventured into couples therapy, which aided in keeping their goals incremental. He says this is because “our process of learning how to work together, collaborate, and compromise will not look like anyone else’s.” Hence why he and his wife don’t advertise or promote aspects of their journey.

What Are the Risks of Using #CoupleGoals to Influence Your Relationships?

While it may seem harmless to have people you view as #CoupleGoals or look to them for attributes you see as #RelationshipGoals, the trend can lead to relationship issues in the long run. After all, what we see online is always a highly curated aesthetic and not a full view of the relationship overall. Therefore, this hashtag can lead to the endorsement of unhealthy expectations and behaviors.

“While setting goals in any aspect of life can be beneficial, it is important to approach this trend with a sense of perspective and nuance,” says Crystal Jackson, MA, a former therapist turned author and head writer at The Truly Charming.

Jackson, who observed a growing trend among couples to push for setting and working towards achieving #CoupleGoals and #RelationshipGoals during her time as a therapist believes that it is important to first and foremost recognize that not all goals are created equal.

“Setting a goal to take a vacation together, for example, is far different from setting a goal to achieve a certain level of emotional intimacy. The latter requires a significant amount of vulnerability, self-reflection, and work,” she says.

Therefore, couples need to understand that achieving relationship goals takes a lot of time, effort, and dedication. She also recommends people remember that these goals shouldn’t be the sole focus of the relationship.

How Should People View and See Relationships?

“A relationship is not a checklist or a project that one can complete. A healthy relationship is one in which the individuals are able to grow and evolve together, and this growth should not be limited to specific, predetermined goals,” Jackson says.

Additionally, setting relationship goals should be seen as a mutual process that involves all parties being on the same page. The goals should also align with each individual’s values and desires; otherwise, they have the potential to lead to resentment and dissatisfaction.

“Attaining a goal does not mean that the relationship is perfect, and it’s essential for couples to continue to work on their relationship and set new aims and objectives as needed,” says Jackson.

Furthermore, individuals feeling as if their relationship is lacking due to not posting on social media shouldn’t be too worried. According to Nippoda, “Happy couples tend not to post their images on social media in general. They are content in their relationships and are focusing more on their actual relationships and spending time together rather than looking at social media”.

This isn’t to say that only unhappy couples post their relationships on social media. But rather that they tend not to need to seek validation from others by doing so.

Final Things to Consider

In the end, relationships are dynamic and always evolving. Therefore, it’s vital to not let the aesthetic perpetuated by #CoupleGoals and #RelationshipGoals impede your ability to create a distinct and unique safe space in your relationship. “After all, achieving these goals is not a one-time event but an ongoing process,” says Jackson.

Goals alone aren’t a bad thing, so long as you don’t use them to force your partnership into an online aesthetic niche.

By Zuva Seven
Zuva Seven is a freelance writer, editor, and founder of An Injustice!. Follow her on Twitter here.