Most people these days have social media accounts and many of us are tweeting and announcing even the most mundane of our daily activities. Spending time on social media has become a cultural norm, changing the way we interact with the world and ourselves.
What we don’t think about is how social media might be impacting our intimate relationships, and more specifically, the influence it may have on our decision to divorce. According to science, social media is influencing our relationships, and not always in a positive manner. Understanding your motivations for using social media may give you more clarity regarding your marital satisfaction.
1. Social media makes our partner’s interactions more visible
In days gone by, you know, the good old days before social media, we had little or no idea of our partner’s social interactions when we were apart. The old adage “out of sight, out of mind” comes into play here, because if our partner had an innocent flirtation with another person, it would usually remain confidential, with us remaining none the wiser. With so much social interaction occurring on social media, we are more aware than ever regarding with whom and how partners interact socially, and this peaks our interest.
What to do instead: Having frank conversations with your partner around social media interactions and relationship boundaries can create clarity when it comes to acceptable online behaviour. Negotiating what is or isn’t acceptable when your partner interacts online instills a stronger sense of commitment to the relationship as a whole while overtly defining relationship limitations.
2. Social media unleashes the green-eyed monster
Most of us feel jealous from time to time, but with social media making your partners interactions so visible, you might find yourself facing the green-eyed monster more than you would like. Jealousies can arise regarding the amount of time spent on social media, which takes time away from us, or regarding the types of people or interactions your partner has on social media.
What to do instead: Being honest about feelings of jealousy is never easy, and makes us feel really vulnerable, but taking the plunge can make a huge difference. Most people don’t want their partners to feel hurt, so having a discussion about the reasons for your jealousy could elicit further exploration of ways to reduce any damage caused by social media use.
3. People use social media more when going through separation
Social networking sites tend to be more strongly associated with those who are considering separation or divorce. One study found that those who used social media more frequently reported that their relationships were troubled. There may be a few possible reasons for this including that those who were unhappy in their relationships sought support from friends and family on social media.
What to do instead: Rather than discussing your relationship problems online, talk about how you feel with your partner. Explaining your feelings within the relationship face to face allows you both to engage in an open discussion. If you are afraid or unsure what to say to your partner, seeking professional mediation services from a relationship therapist could help you both understand your relationship dynamics more clearly.
4. Social media puts you under peer pressure
Sites like Facebook tend to suggest connections with like-minded people, which may encourage those in unsatisfying relationships to seek connection with those in similar situations. This may result in secretive or illicit communication on social media, which in essence is often how affairs begin. Just like peer pressure in adolescence, social media could influence one’s decision regarding their relationship.
Those who had more online friends who were experiencing divorce thought more about ending their own relationship. In fact, even friends of friends who are going through divorce can influence your divorce perceptions. It is almost as though when we are faced with the divorce of those around us, it give us permission to consider if we may want to end our own relationship.
What to do instead: before making decisions regarding your marriage, make sure that you haven’t been influenced by anyone else. Whilst watching one persons separation from afar may give you more courage, remember that you will never see the full picture. Social media tends to make us more braver (or more dishonest) which means you might only be getting half of the story. The grass isn’t always greener on the other side.
Obviously there are instances where divorce truly is the only option and deep relationship problems must be addressed, but knowing the influence that socal media is having on your relationship helps to weed out the wheat from the chafe. Take time out from social media, have real and honest discussions with your partner and stop focusing externally to ensure that you are making the right choices for your relationship, and for yourself.
Original article published in YourTango.