Whether you love them or hate them, chances are that you aren’t indifferent about social media. Social networking has turned into a massive phenomenon that’s already affecting numerous aspects of our lives. Romantic relationships haven’t been spared.
Some people find it a lot easier to connect with others and form meaningful relationships through the use of websites like Facebook and Twitter. For others, these platforms have proven to have a detrimental impact.
Are social networks affecting your relationship? How much do you share online? Though social networks facilitate communication with others, they have also led to the birth of relationship problems that people didn’t experience prior to the digital age.
What does Science have to Say About It?
Many researchers have tried to answer the question of whether social networks help or hurt our relationships. An interesting study was carried out in 2013, trying to figure out whether the use of Facebook by one partner in a relationship contributed to any problems.
Researchers measured several factors like the amount of time dedicated to Facebook usage, whether Facebook uses contributed to relationship complications and whether Facebook had any impact on relationship dissolution and/or infidelity.
The research team worked with 205 volunteers who were all Facebook users. Of those individuals, 144 were in a romantic relationship at the time of the study. Just like several other studies found out in the past, the researchers managed to establish a correlation between Facebook use and relationship conflict.
One of the most interesting findings was that Facebook had a negative impact on the relationships of the individuals that had been together for 36 months or less. The people that were in a relationship for a longer period of time didn’t seem to be negatively impacted by social networking.
Myths about Relationships and Social Media Usage
Needless to say, we already believe so many myths and urban legends about social networks and their impact on human relationships. Some have gone too far, painting a bleak picture of an entire generation that’s incapable of carrying out normal human interactions and is stuck 24/7 in front of the screen.
This is just one of the myths stemming from the prominence of social media. Several other fictitious claims have gotten popular over the past few years, as well:
- People use social media to lie and create an “alternate reality:” research suggests that a small minority uses social media to manipulate others and share misleading information. Most people already have sufficient skills to identify an online lie and nobody likes to get caught red-handed.
- Online relationships aren’t the real deal: the number of people who start a relationship online and use websites like Facebook to find a significant other is growing all of the time. According to many people, however, relationships that start this way can’t be considered real. True, people in an online relationship need a long period of time to achieve some level of intimacy. In addition, they’re lacking the physical proximity that comes with traditional relationships. Online connections, however, can be quite meaningful when people are open and when they make their intentions clear right from the start.
- Social media are replacing offline relationships: in fact, social networking has helped many people to build deeper relationships with individuals that they know offline. Many individuals that are introverted and shy find the indirect communication available through such channels to be quite comforting.
Some Relationship Risks Stemming from Social Media Usage
Though social media have helped many people find partners and build their social circle, they’ve also jeopardized numerous relationships. The use of social networks results in certain relationship risks and these channels can contribute to a betrayal of trust:
- Jealousy: This is a normal outcome of social media use. Jealousy stems from the fact that websites like Facebook make it very easy for people in a relationship to communicate with others and share intimate details with their “virtual friends” rather than with a significant other.
- Giving the relationship too much publicity: some people like to document just about every aspect of their life on websites like Facebook. This way, the relationship becomes public and it gets “shared” with individuals that shouldn’t have access to information about what people are doing as a couple.
- Options for infidelity: some people view this as a major concern – the indirect communication and the chance to interact with hundreds of individuals provide brand new opportunities for a person to be unfaithful. As already seen in the example shared above, the risk is quite significant for people that haven’t been each other for a long period of time. it’s also true for the individuals that have been together for an excessively long period of time and are getting bored with the routine.
- A chance to keep in touch with an ex: if you have at least one ex as a Facebook friend, you’re not alone. If your past relationship didn’t end with closure for both parties involved, however, you’re jeopardizing your current relationship by keeping in touch with that person.
How to Keep Social Networking from Ruining Your Relationship
Building a meaningful offline relationship is far from challenging if you follow a few simple rules and you communicate with each other openly.
For a start, refrain from disclosing a lot of personal information. It’s distasteful and it will make your significant another feel very uncomfortable. Instead of running to your Facebook buddies for advice, talk to your partner about the issue and try to resolve it together.
Next, have an honest discussion with each other about social media usage. Try to establish some limits. What are the two of you feeling comfortable with and what’s off-limits? Chances are that your spouse isn’t feeling comfortable about you friending strangers and communicating with them on Facebook. If so, refrain from doing it and stick to online activities that aren’t going to make the person you love uncomfortable.
Finally, think before you act. Some very small things that you do online can have a profound impact on your partner. Liking a sexy girl’s photo, for example, can make your wife feel really insecure. Even if you don’t consider those small things to be particularly significant, they can be hurtful. Moderation and consideration for others will enable you to use social networks in the best way possible and maintain meaningful offline relationships.