Life

Would I ever have a public relationship?

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Alright guys, let’s get personal. Or not. We’ll see. If you hadn’t noticed already I am very particular about which elements of my personal life I’ll share online and which I’ll keep private. This isn’t just about making a relationship “facebook official” but being a YouTuber adds another layer to things because there are thousands of people (strangers) who are to varying degrees interested in your life.

Now we all love a good YouTube couple especially when you’ve been shipping them even before they announced they were an item – that’s always very satisfying. But here’s the thing, I just don’t get why anyone would want to have a public relationship. People can do what they want and where other YouTubers decide to draw their personal boundaries is up to them and not me. But I still don’t get it. The other curve ball is that even though I’ve briefly dated people, for the past 5 years I have been mostly single. I’ve not had a serious enough partner that I would even start to think about whether or not I tell my audience about them. And then there’s the question of if my hypothetical partner is not a YouTuber, would I still introduce them onto the channel?

Yes, I talk about sex and relationships on my channel but usually conceptually or drawing on very past experiences. Being open about those kinds of topics makes a lot of my audience quite curious about my personal love life. But actually shout out to you guys, even though I can tell you’re curious most of you are very respectful of my boundaries and I appreciate that so much! I remember getting a comment on Drunk Advice with Tim H that said something like, ‘did they used to go out? not that it’s any of my business though, sorry’. Bless you!

At the moment I can think of two reasons why I personally would have a public relationship (please remember this is personal and I’m not bashing YouTubers who are in public relationships).

  1. It might be easier than trying to hide it, especially if they’re another YouTuber.
  2. I’d get more views (for real though, my video with Tim case in point).

But hey, I’m still very much single so we’ll cross that bridge when we get to it! I think one of the reasons why my gut reaction is against having a public relationship is because you would then have to have a public break up. Remember, most relationships end. So statistically speaking… am I going to have to make a break up video? To be honest, I don’t think anyone wants to make a break up video. But the idea of making a break up video is enough at the moment to deter me from ever having a public relationship with another YouTuber.

But that doesn’t mean we can’t get personal on my channel. My friend, Leena, made a great video recently about what it’s really like to be single ( I’m thinking of making a video response) in which she says,

What are we doing here, if we’re not being intrusive in each others’ lives? What is even the point of YouTube? I might as well write a really distancing Guardian Comment Is Free article about the general topic of singledom but no, we’re on YouTube, it’s a platform where we get personal.

And I think I agree with her. So maybe you’ll see more personal videos/blogs from me in the future, maybe you won’t. And that decision will be entirely up to me (and my hypothetical partner – I might let them have a say in it too).

What do you think about public YouTuber relationships? Are you into them? Could you not give a toss? I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments!

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20 Comments

  1. Having to for various reason myself keep my life kind of private, i think relationships especially is a path that once you give a tiny detail on then you feed the beast. Once you feed the beast then you start an insatiable hunger for more. Your viewers as a whole are very respectful but my personal opinion is it isnt necessary.

    I watch Rachel Ballinger and she didnt reference her partner on camera for years and even now you rarely see Matt which i think is fine

  2. I think that if a couple were together before YouTube it’s a different story than a couple that got together because of YouTube. If it’s the latter, as a viewer, I would personally prefer that they keep it separate enough that the relationship doesn’t start to bleed into each other’s channels and affect their personal YouTube career. Once one person starts appearing in another’s channel too often it’s pretty much shot to hell in my opinion. Ultimately its up to the people involved how they want to handle it but personally I could never fathom why you would want to be SO incredibly public about a relationship ( I don’t want to call out Jack and Hazel, but I’m going to call out Jack and Hazel) considering it’s likely to end at some point. But idk, maybe it’s a me thing.

    1. I’m not sure any couple ‘get together because of youtube’ and if they do, it wouldn’t last very long at all. That’s not how relationships start; people get together because they are attracted to each other. If you don’t like someone appearing in someone else’s channel a lot you simply don’t have to watch. It would be pretty ridiculous in my opinion for a couple who vlog to actively hide their relationship; especially someone like Hazel who portrays the highs and lows of her life. Some youtubers like to present a sanitised version of their life and that is absoloutely fine and their right. But Hazel is a youtuber who is very true to her life (i.e. Portraying the lower moments aswell as the good ones) so it would be a little hypocritical of her to hide her relationship. I think it’s wrong of you to ‘call out’ someone for the content they put up, as it’s always your choice to watch and absorb that, it’s in no way forced on you.

      1. Preach! I’m signing under each word you just said (also, you put my incoherent thoughts into words, task at which I failed horribly)

    2. I would raise an issue with this. First of all I think calling out people is a little snidey. I would also say that while some youtubers like to keep their channel either private or presenting a more sanitised version of their life, others give full insight. Hazel’s channel is one which shows all aspects of her life and I think you have to respect her right to that, many including myself appreciate that. As someone who shares with the internet all of her life, the highs and the lows, it would be strange to cut out such a big part of it. My personal view is that Hazel presents it very well but I appreciate all may not agree. However I would remind you that YouTube is something you choose to watch and people create content they upload, you are not forced to watch it and calling it out is poor of you.

    3. I don’t really understand how Jack and Hazel are innvolved in it. I mean, yes, they appear in each other’s videos, but they did it long before they started going out. They do not make it too public and in case they get “emotional” always try to joke around it. Also, we didn’t know about them having anything going on until December TOTM although they we’ve a thing since October and confirmed everything was only at the end of March.
      When they get together as YTersand escpecially when they are daily/weekly/monthly/whatever vlogers, it’s kinda obvious that sooner or later their significant other will appear in videos. It’s easier to keep everything private, when nobody vlogs in relationship( I’m not saying it’s impossible, bc Louise is doing really well with keeping her private life private). Also, the bleeding through happens not only when love is involved. BFF YTers do the same thing. Friend groups build a community together, so they appear in each other’s vlogs. They all are friends, so they will spend time together and since they need to create conent, they might as well do it together. Like Hannah Hart and Grace Helbig have said (The Girlfriend Tag), YTers like to co-work, bc by working together they inspire each other and give a boost to keep on going. (Bringing Hazel and Jack in, bc it;’s really early and I just saw all the tweets, Hazel has said, that her and Jack work together on many projects, bc they understand each other professionally very well and Jack is a good editor, so he helps her, just like Ciaran did in the beginnings of her YT carrier)
      I don’t know whether I made a point since I just woke up, The thing I believe in, we should not make difference between YT couples who were together before or after their YT carrier. Everybody’s relationship is valid and they show it as much as they want. Content doesn;t get worse once two ppl are dating, quite opposite, they always have a person if they want to collaborate. We are not the ones tp judge, since ppl in general tend to show off their relationship, the only difference in case of YTers is that there’s a wider audience admiring and/or judging (Hazel’s audience likes to admiringly judge<3)

  3. I think relationship is something between two people, not two people and some side watchers. I’ve seen some of my friends do relationships fall apart because other (few compared to the following a YouTuber has) people were too involved in their relationship . So I can’t imagine how it can work out when there are thousands of people commenting, suggesting, guessing, gossiping…
    I think it is ok to let the audience (whether those are viewers or just people in your life) know that there is someone and maybe some other details that both of you are comfortable sharing.
    But as a public figure of many people following.. The couple should be careful.

    But I agree that it comes down to the couple how open they want to be.

  4. The whole Youtube Vlogger thing is a bit weird, and there aren’t any established templates to follow. I mean, back in the day we knew about TV Presenters & performers (and before that music hall variety acts) who turn up & do a job then go home to their private real lives in which they may or may not be completely different people to their professional persona, but in the era before Youtubers, before even Big Brother, there was Richard & Judy whose personal life as a married couple but also a presenting partnership sort of defined them and eventually bled into and consumed their professional life by years of osmosis… their family doctor became their TV show’s medical expert for example…

    http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/entertainment/tv_and_radio/1313004.stm

    I remember thinking ‘If they ever get divorced this is going to be so f-ing messy’ – the tabloids would have given themselves aneurisms so mental would the feeding frenzy have been, so it’s pretty lucky for them that it never happened… but Richard & Judy for all their TV power couple stardom in the 80’s & 90’s had about 2 million viewers at peak, Zalfie have 15 million subscribers between them, and Zoella has over 10 million on her own, so if that relationship ever goes south it’s going to be a 24×7 media frenzy. Which is unfortunate for them to say the least. I was going to say ‘Imagine staying with somebody and pretending to still be into them because you are scared of the financial consequences of breaking up’, but then I realised that that could be a story relevant to many a couple through the ages. On the other hand, both YouTubers did the reality TV vlogging thing with their lives, and arguably the reason they have 15 million people watching them live their lives (or an artificial version of themselves that they cynically chose to project – who knows apart from them) is that they have made sharing their own lives and loves the whole point of the gig. There are people on YouTube doing the trad presenter thing, with videos focusing on this or that topic, and you certainly do some of that content, and very good it is, very thought provoking, but it’s also all about you, talking about issues from your personal perspective, informed by your experiences, so not really BBC style detachment to say the least. But would your channel be half as popular, or you half as popular a presenter, if you really were totally detached, standing outside the topics of discussion and giving it the ‘Some people would say’ and ‘we spoke to Jane Doe from London who described her experience of xyz…’? You could communicate the same ideas that way, after all… but there would be something crucial missing IMO… you, the USP of your channel.

    So how does a sex & relationship blogger who is down with talking about what age she first masturbated on her channel and even posting painfully intimate relationship post-mortems on the internetz get into a relationship without discussing it at all on her YouTube channel? I don’t think you do. I think the person who gets into a relationship with you has to accept you being a youtuber and them at least being scenery in your vids sometimes in the same way that somebody dating a nuclear submariner accepts them vanishing under the ocean incommunicado for 4 months of every year or somebody dating a bomb disposal expert accepts the risk of them being blown up and killed on the job, or somebody dating a premiership footballer accepts the fact that they are themselves going to be called a WAG in print and appear in the tabloids… I doubt you’d quit YouTube for love any more than Wayne Rooney would quit football for it, though stranger things have happened… I imagine it comes with the territory for them, and you. Along with the shitstorm that comes if/when it ends…

  5. I respect either choice and it’s not the reason why I choose to watch/not watch someone. Collab videos are always fun though, regardless of romantic relationships. For me Zoella and Alfie are an example of a very public couple online, but, just as you said, it seems like it would be difficult to keep it private with the amount of vlogging they do. Grace Helbig, on the other hand, is immensely funny, has a large audience, but keeps her private life very private (even though there is some inkling to who she is dating and so on), but ultimately a good example that you don’t have to share your private life in what feels like a very private medium in every other way.
    I always cringe a little bit when I see couples making a very public announcement about a relationship (I couldn’t watch more than a few minutes of Emma Blackery’s video), because I’m antecipating that it’s going to be really awkward if they ever brake up (in this case, it wasn’t, but I still didn’t want to know).
    It doens’t really matter at all to one’s channel quality, obviously, but I understand why it might get more views. We end up developing a relationship with the creator (albeit unidirectional), so it’s very interesting knowing about the life of someone who you grow to care about or whose creative work you enjoy. So, yes, I do like knowing about it, I guess, but I would never feel entitled to that information. But I also like knowing about people’s friends, jobs, the behind the scenes…so it’s not the romantic aspect in particular. It’s interesting knowing different facets of people’s lives, not only romantic, and Youtube’s nature and vlogging makes this a very hard line to define, I would imagine (I’m not a content creator). I imagine navigating your personal life when you put a lot of hours into this type of online presence might be hard, hence so many different approaches (Jenna Marbles and Julien come to mind as a balance between my previous examples, with a few collabs here and there and a separate not-so-famous podcast). I don’t know what it feels like being on the other side: maybe it’s nice to make your viewers happy if they have been asking about it? But you would then know that people will connect to that side of you as well. I’ve actually wondered about this quite more than I probably should. Sometimes, although I know that what is presented is heavily curated, you get the feeling that knowing part of someone’s private life means you know the person better and the connection you have with them grows stronger. Finding out a Youtuber is a good person offline is quite a big deal for me (even though, yes, they are presenting what they want). I’m not sure what the line should be between enjoying people’s work who you know are not good people (countless celebreties could be named here), and this is something that will keep on being discussed forever, I’m sure. What I mean is that knowing more about a creator’s life might make me empathise more because of the (false) idea that I know them better (then you have examples like Alex Day, where you *think* a person is cool when they actually are not). I don’t know where I’m going, I ended up “writing out loud”. I like knowing things in general and knowing people whose work I enjoy are happy but I’ve learned over years of watching not to think more or less of a person because of it, because, in the end, I really know nothing ((but I understand why younger people would like to see it much more, just as I did years ago). So, I guess I have mixed feelings about it all.

  6. I have mixed feelings on public YouTuber relationships. I understand why some YouTubers would want to be more private, and why some are more public. I like the way Grace Helbig handles her relationships. When asked about her relationship, she chooses to neither confirm nor deny it. Grace isn’t hiding anything, but she also isn’t shoving her relationship in our faces. I guess it really is all up to personal preference. Viewers are going to ship YouTubers with whoever they appear on camera with. If someone is a daily vlogger it could be hard for them to hide who they spend their time with, but they don’t need to share more than they’re comfortable with and that’s okay too. I think if I were a YouTuber I probably wouldn’t announce my relationship in any formal way, but I wouldn’t go to any great lengths to hide it either. Ultimately you’re in control of your content and it’s up to you to decide what is best for you, your relationships, and your channel so you shouldn’t feel pressured to share more than you want to with your audience.

  7. I don’t talk about my relationship in my videos though my bf does show up in almost all of them at some point. The most I think I ever talked about us was in my “Getting to Know Me” videos, and even tgat was hardly in any detail. I have my reasons for not blabbing about it all the time – or at all, really. If I were to meet someone new now that I have a channel (even as super tiny as it is), I don’t think I’d talk much about that one, either. It would most likely be like it is now: They show up from time to time but there’s no massive sharing of information. If I were to ever date another YouTuber…hmm…well, I guess that could be a whole different story. Guess I’d have to figure it out if it ever happens!

    It’s important to draw your boundary lines in life. Like you said, everyone is different and everyone will have an opinion on it. It’s always best to do whatever YOU feel is right, especially when you’re in the public eye.

  8. I recently started following Emma Blackery, and she just did a break-up video with Luke a few weeks ago (I didn’t even know they were a couple). It was well done, and I’m glad their relationship ended on a positive note and they’re still friends and all, but she did say she felt she had to do the video because they’d had such a public relationship. I think even celebrities (YouTubers included) have a right to privacy, regardless how much they’ve shared in the past about their lives, but I realize many put pressure on celebrities to keep divulging information once they’ve shown a willingness to do so. I guess it’s up to the person whether they’re comfortable with sharing such information or not.

    Despite the sometimes revealing comments I leave here and there online and the writings I’ve posted on my website, I am a private person in real life, so I can completely understand the desire to not tell the world all about one’s life. I don’t normally ship people. Every once in a while I’ll think two people appear well-suited for each other, and that’s about as far as I go with such thoughts. It’s not something I think about much most of the time. I do hope you find yourself in a happy relationship soon, since you’ve expressed an interest in being in one again! Whether you choose to discuss your future relationships online is your choice, and I respect your right to share or keep private your personal information. : )

  9. Hannah,
    I don’t usually respond to things like this, but I think this is a topic worth speaking up on. If you want your potential relationships to last, there has to be an element of privacy. Sure, you can be a public figure, or even public figures as a couple, but there needs to be a line beyond which you both know that, “this is private” and as such will never be made public. Sure, you are a very beautiful young woman, and people will always speculate about your sexuality, and well, given the state of the current moral values around the Internet, just about everything else; and there is little you can do about that. Little except to not feed the fire, as it were.
    It may be nice to know that you are happy in a relationship, but you do not OWE it to anyone to let the public know with whom you are in a relationship. No one needs to know what it is that this person does to make you happiest, or whether that something is sexual or not; it is no one’s business but your own. If you Choose to tell people a little bit of it, well, that is on you, and one would hope you got things approved by your partner before making things public, but one of the down-sides to a public relationship is that people feel they NEED to keep their audience informed of every little thing. The only person you need to be that open with is your partner.
    You seem to be quite intelligent, so I am guessing that when this issue ever becomes a reality, you will end up doing what you think is best, based on a reasoned discussion with your partner about it. Either way, do not ever fall into the trap of, “I have to let my audience know what is going on!” You don’t, there is a reason some things are called private, and none of us have a right to demand more information than you are willing to give. If something seems like it may be a bad idea to make public, then it probably IS a bad idea, keep it private, and be happy knowing you mad a smart choice.

  10. Oddly enough, this parallels with a conversation I was having with my boss and co-worker today. My company seems to be obsessed with sending out blast emails about everyone’s private lives (marriages, births, surgeries, etc) and I find it to be horribly intrusive. I told my boss in no uncertain terms that were I ever to date someone/get engaged/married that I wouldn’t tell a single soul at work. When it comes to my private life, I am intensely private. When I see YouTubers who feel comfortable enough to share their personal lives that include their relationship with their partners I am always a bit in awe. I feel a bit like a voyeur looking into their living room window…and then I realized that is exactly what this platform allows. Some of my favorite videos are the “domestic hanging with my crew” ones. It starts to feel less like an intrusion and more like inclusion. I (and I’m assuming other viewers unless I’m a super creep) begin to see these YouTubers as friends and because of that these relationships begin to feel like relationships of dear friends. I hope for the best and if things go sour I feel sad for them. I’ve seen a few of the breakup videos that you mention and they are uncomfortable for both the creator and the audience because once again it’s like the viewer is a weird third party to that relationship. (Is this making any sense? I surely hope so.) It’s strange how invested we feel despite only seeing snippets of these lives of people we will realistically never meet in real life.

    However, if it were me I don’t think I’d be able to maintain a daily vlog kind of channel. I don’t think I could cope with the knowledge that I had invited so many strangers into my personal bubble. I do give props to those that do though because they show a confidence and strength in themselves and their partners which is admirable.

    And here is where I will end this probably completely incoherent spiel. 🙂

  11. I have more a problem with creators making their relationships public, then being upset when people speculate about it or have opinions on it. I don’t think you can have it both ways. Either you’re private and keep gossip out of it, or you’re public and you take the heat. This idea that you’ll put your life online for everyone to consumer voyeuristically, but then demand that people don’t comment on or become invested in your relationship is a bit bonkers. Why is it the audiences responsibility, and why try to control how millions of people see you?
    It begins and ends with the creator. What information they allow to enter the public sphere is up to them, how the audience reacts and becomes invested in that information is completely out of the creators control. That’s why I personally wouldn’t make my relationships a thing.

  12. My thought on this topic is that you have to keep certain things in your life private, or it doesn’t feel as if your life isn’t completely your own. Your followers will learn that you have a boyfriend/girlfriend through your posts, through your sharing of your life. You just have to hope that your followers are mature enough to want you to be happy.

  13. Natural human curiosity makes people interested in others relationships. That can be heightened with Youtubers because of vlogging and seeing personal moments between them. However, when it comes down to it, I don’t give a shit. Their relationship doesn’t impact my life in any way. Was I shocked and sad when Stevie and Ally broke up? Absolutely. Did I get over it in a matter of minutes because I don’t know the people? Yep. It all depends on the person, if you were to introduce someone to your channel I think I would be surprised given how private you usually are but I agree that I’m sure it would get you more views. Look at Zalfie for Christ sake they’re an empire now.

  14. I really don’t like how judgmental most of the comments on this blogpost are and, to be quite honest, I don’t like the tone of the blogpost either. It feeds into a very horrible system where people (and especially women) are put down for the choices they make about their own lives, their relationships, their sexuality. I’ve noticed that in the whole Jack/Hazel discussion Hazel gets considerably more criticism than Jack, although it has been made clear that the decision to go public was a shared one. What’s up with that? Why is it ANYONE’S deal why or how or when they went public? Generally, ‘respecting people’s privacy’ includes TO A LARGE EXTENT to respect the decision they make about their relationships. If they decide to share some part of it: great. If they don’t share anything: great, too. You don’t have to ‘get’ that decision or anything, because it is THEIR decision. And no two relationships are the same, so to compare your potential relationships and how they function to someone else’s is really dangerous. It can lead to over-simplification and judgment of something that no one except the people IN THE RELATIONSHIP can understand. I dunno.. it just makes me angry when I see something that claims to be open, healthy discussion of a topic turn into the shaming of people for some very private choices they’ve made (private in the sense that it is not up for public debate, not as in ‘behind closed doors’).

  15. I can definitely understand the hesitation of being public with a relationship. I certainly wouldn’t expect it of anyone. I’m human, so I’m curious, but I’m not so curious that I feel the need to pry. It’s up to you how you reveal your personal life, if you do at all. I mean, look at Dolly Parton. We know her husband exists, and we have even sorta seen him a couple of times, but all we know is Dolly and her career. And I think that’s wise.

  16. That’s quite a thought-provoking article. After some reflection, I have to admit that this problem is a terrible case of “would you rather” where you have to make a choice between two unsatisfying options.

    When you start a relationship that’s going somewhere, and you are in that honeymoon phase, not only do you want to shout it from the rooftops and share your happiness with the world, but you truly can’t help it. At least I know I can’t. When I start dating someone great, or even just spending more time with someone (friend, family member) I can’t help but mention them because I talk about things I’ve done that have made me happy or about subjects that have been brought up with those people… So I will have a strong tendency to talk about a new boyfriend. At that point in the relationship, I’d probably be tempted to make it public not only because I’d want to share my joy but also because I’d know I was bound to accidentally let it slip..

    But then, you have your relationship observed and critiqued by hundreds, thousands or more (depending on your viewership) which would put so much pressure on it. When I see the comments left by some viewers on some of my favorite youtuber’s video, I get sick to my stomach. I would probably start questioning everything constantly and feel way too much pressure…

    And finally, just like you said, you have to think about the possibility of a break up. Having to deal with the public reaction at a time when you’re vulnerable and already struggling with it yourself would be tough…

    I’d say, overall, I’d agree with you Hannah that I’d try and keep my relationship private but I’m not sure I would be able to do it…. Being a public figure sure complicates things doesn’t it?

    Love and good luck with everything!

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