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"#RelationshipGoals" is a hashtag used to share pictures on social media that the poster believes exhibits the type of romantic relationship worth striving to achieve with a partner.
While the moment "Relationship Goals" became a popular way to comment on images of couples on social media is unclear, one of the earliest articles to use "Relationship Goals" in that way was posted on Lifehack on June 15th, 2009 in an article titled, "Relationship Goals: 8 Traveling Couples To Follow On Instagram." This was an example of the first type of #RelationshipGoals narrative, which was often employed for couples traveling to exotic locations.
The phrase and its hashtag began seeing more spread over the coming years on photo-sharing sites like Instagram and Pinterest. However, it was not until the Summer of 2014 when the hashtag began to gain some more widespread attention. On July 7th, 2014, Buzzfeed published an article of cute couples' photos that featured several posts using the hashtag #RelationshipGoals. On the same day, a Reddit photo of an old couple titled Relationship Goals was posted and gained over 18,000 upvotes (shown below).
After the summer of 2014, the phrase became common vernacular, appearing in dozens of articles devoted to couples behaving particularly romantically. Often, the phrase would be used by clickbait style articles with overly sentimental images (ex: shown below).
The prevalence of the phrase and the various images associated with it led to a mild backlash where articles used the phrase to encourage setting more realistic relationship goals. In December of 2016, Bustle ran an article in which they interviewed a couple's therapist who warned that the fantasy moments portrayed in standard "relationship goals" photos were not the key to a successful relationship. #RelationshipGoals also grew into a common way to refer to celebrity relationships, which also has drawn critical thought, as psychologists warn that comparing one's life to a celebrity relationship is detrimental.