In some ways, social media has been an amazing development for modern people. If you meet someone in Spain and want to talk to them in South Africa, you can easily find them online and chat without having to worry about long-distance phone rates or changed phone numbers. If you are working abroad, you can talk to your partner back at home easily. Video conferencing options have also made it possible to easily see your loved ones no matter where you are in the world.
While there are some benefits to online life, social media’s effects on relationships are not always a good thing. From increasing reports of jealousy to higher rates of depression, staying on social media for too many hours a day is generally not good for your physical, mental or romantic health.
The Benefits of Social Media Effects of Relationships
Before we focus on the negative aspects of social media, let’s take a moment to consider the positive changes it brings into your life. First of all, social media helps you to integrate your social life with your partner. Think of when you first started dating: you knew very few of your boyfriend’s or girlfriend’s friends, and it was overwhelming trying to keep track of everyone.
With social media, making friends with your partner’s social circle is easier than ever. Researchers are actually able to predict who you are dating by looking at the ways your friend groups overlap. If you and your partner have a lot of the same friends, then it increases the chances that you are together. Without knowing anything about you or your partner, a researcher can quickly guess the chances that you are dating each other.
Finding a New Relationship Just Became Easier
If you think about it, it is rather amazing that there have been so many strong, happy marriages over the centuries. Imagine for a moment your own quirks, unique hobbies and viewpoints. What are the chances that someone in a small town would share all of those quirks with you? For example, how many people love beekeeping, soap making and long hikes? In the entire world, there are many people who fit this description, but it may only be one out of a thousand or more.
With social media and online dating, people are now able to find someone who is a better, more exact match for them. It is easier than ever to meet people, and many social sites can filter the type of people that you meet. As a result, you are able to immediately find a partner who suits your exact interests instead of having to meet a thousand people to find a decent match. Even on a basic social media site like Facebook, you are able to weed through potential dates by looking at their interests, “about me”, likes and hobbies. Since you do not have to reject them face-to-face, it also reduces the emotional investment and effort required.
Keep Your Relationship Strong
Another benefit of using social media is to maintain your relationship. If you are far apart because of work or studying in another country, it can be hard to maintain your relationship. Even if you have plenty of money to spend on long-distance calls, you may not always be free at the same time of day to take that call.
When you are able to use social media, you can send a message whenever you want and your partner can read it when they are available. Plus, you can send cute reminders about how much you love your significant other. Studies show that couples who are positive and assuring have stronger relationships and more relationship satisfaction. Positive things include being happy and cheerful about the relationship. Meanwhile, “assuring” messages emphasize the commitment and quality of the relationship. This could be done through posts like, “I am so lucky to be with you. I am counting down the minutes until this weekend!”
These types of posts have been show to help with relationship maintenance and relationship satisfaction. It is especially important to have outlets like this when it is not always possible to call or see each other every day. Keep in mind that these studies are inherently flawed—it could just as easily be happier couples communicate positively than positive messages make happier couples. While the causality of these messages may be in question, it never hurts to make sure that you send loving, optimistic notes to your partner at regular intervals.
Social Media Can Also Hurt Your Relationship
As you may have guessed, social media is not always a good thing for your relationship. Spending excessive time online can actually hurt your relationship. One study showed that partners who spent more time on Facebook were more likely to have a relationship that ended in a break up or cheating. The reason for this is not entirely clear, but it is fairly easy to suppose why it happens. Someone who is online a lot could be focusing on friendships instead of their relationship. They could be getting in arguments with their ex-partner. They could be looking for a new partner. In addition, it could be a sign that one partner is monitoring the other partner jealously. All of these potential causes of online time could easily end up harming a relationship.
Should You Make It Facebook Official?
While many couples like to change their relationship status on Facebook, it can lead to conflict, distress and confusion. Women tend to feel like declaring their relationship online demonstrates that they are serious in the relationship and want to be exclusive. Men, meanwhile, tend to agree to the Facebook official status because they want their girlfriend to be perceived as taken by everyone else. By viewing this status change in different ways, it ends up resulting in confusion—and arguments if the partners were not clear on what “Facebook official” meant to each other.
Don’t Be a Narcissist
Studies show that people who post a lot of selfies tend to have less satisfactory relationships. While the study’s authors are not quite sure why this happens, they have guessed that it could be linked to someone’s likelihood of being a narcissist. Chances are high that someone who posts selfies constantly cares a lot about how they look and how other people perceive them. These qualities may make for great selfies, but they tend to be poor qualities to look for in a partner.
Your Relationship Could Push People Away
Interestingly, social media does not only affect your relationship. Some friends and loved ones cold end up feeling hurt or jealous because of your status posts. If you are constantly posting photos and statuses about how awesome your relationship is, it can end up making some of your friends feel jealous or unhappy. This is especially true if your friend is having a difficult relationship or is currently unhappy and single. Be kind when you do relationship posts because you do not want to unintentionally alienate or hurt your friends.
Facebook Can Lead to Jealousy
It is very easy for social media to cause suspicion, jealousy and negative feelings in your relationship. For example, imagine that you just started dating someone. You see a pretty girl who is obviously unrelated to him comment on every photo and post. After dating for a while, you learn that the girl was a foster sister his family adopted.
It is very easy to become jealous in this type of situation, even when there is no logical reason to be jealous. Social media has a tendency to make negative feelings spiral out of control. If you are in a long distance relationship, this is especially true. Even though your girlfriend is only hanging out with other girls, it is easy to feel jealous and unhappy because all of her friends get to see her every day and you can only talk to her online.
Mistaken jealousy for misunderstandings is one thing. Cheating and online flirting can cause real jealousy. It is far too easy for an old flame or ex-partner to reach out on Facebook. Many people begin talking casually because they do not see the harm. After all, they are only talking, right? Before long, the casual posts have turned into long e-mails, which later become calls and dates. A casual “hello” can easily turn into an affair with an old flame. In this circumstance, the jealousy is entirely warranted and the resulting affair can completely ruin the relationship.
Even when jealousy is just due to a misunderstanding, it can still lead to problems in the relationship. If your partner becomes jealous, you may naturally feel upset. If they start to watch each comment or “like” on your page, you may feel like your privacy and independence are being infringed on. Over time, this can affect the happiness and stability of your relationship.
While there are positive aspects to social media, using social media too often can harm your relationship. To make sure that your online habits do not hurt your dating life, try to use social media in moderation.