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One man in his 30s in New York who doesn’t use Instagram said he has gone out of his way to do little things to show his girlfriend he cares, since he isn’t big on distributing online affection.But for those who care, the weight of a Story watch can also be wielded over others as a power play.

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She said she gets sad and upset if the man she’s seeing doesn’t watch her Story or skips over it.“That shit seriously makes me mad. Some said that it’s because young men are so bad at expressing overt interest, that they’re left to decipher digital clues in the form of Story views.

“Many millennial and Gen Z men aren’t outwardly affectionate, so we’re forced to discern the interest level and emotion behind a like or a view,” said Kristin in Los Angeles.

“I’ve definitely done some passive-aggressive shit in the past where I’ll post pics or vids of me with other guys to see if he saw them, just to keep him on his toes,” said Taylor.

When a relationship ends, it’s often expected that each party will give one another a mutual grace period where you don’t watch or engage with the other’s content, since post-breakup Story watching can feel invasive.

Declaring your relationship on Facebook used to be enough to solidify your online bond with a partner. Now, couples are forced to navigate the murky waters of Twitter faves, Snapchat streaks, twinstagramming, subgramming, going Instagram official, and more.

While it’s long been expected that good romantic partners will dutifully like and comment on their other half’s best selfies, it’s no longer acceptable to simply throw digital hearts on your partner’s Instagram posts. Before Snapchat introduced its Stories feature, a personal feed of photos and videos that last for only 24 hours, some partners would white-lie their way through a relationship.These feature changes have led to enhanced expectations around content consumption.It’s now understood by many couples that, to be a truly engaged partner, you need to regularly consume your partner’s content, and most importantly, watch their Stories.You can’t go from watching someone’s Stories daily to never clicking without them potentially reading into it.“If one person uses social media a lot less than the other person, it can be an issue,” said Andrew, a 20-year-old in San Francisco.Whether done consciously or unconsciously, it sends the message that you’re interested in what your significant other is thinking and doing.While social media validation used to come in the form of public expressions of approval like faves, hearts, and likes, now, it’s often distributed more privately—yet just as deliberately—in the form of Story watching.But with Snapchat and Instagram Stories, there’s now a clear record of exactly who watched your content and when they did it.Instagram even recently rolled out statuses via Instagram Direct, so you can also see exactly when your partner last opened the app.“Consuming someone’s content is absolutely an important part of flirting nowadays, and especially during the beginning stages,” said Levinson, now deputy editor of Mel magazine.“It’s how you signal you’re interested in someone, that you care what they have to say, that you’re curious what they’re up to moment to moment.


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