Making your relationship Facebook official has become almost important as becoming official offline. If it’s not online, it didn’t really happen, right?
Then, there’s the obligatory six-month, one-year and happy birthday posts complete with cute pictures and sappy sentiments. Maybe there’s even a one-month, two-month or three-month status update if you really like anniversaries. Don’t forget the tasteful Instagram pic of the flowers your significant other surprised you with!
Social media has crept into nearly every aspect of our lives, but especially so when it comes to romantic relationships. Is that a positive or a negative thing? Does social media help or hurt relationships? Let’s explore the relationship between relationships and social media.
The Pre-Date Investigation
Oftentimes, social media comes into the picture before two people ever even meet in real life. You may meet someone on social media or even stumble upon someone’s social media profile and then seek them out in the real world.
More likely though, you’ll do a comprehensive social media and Google search on someone before meeting up. In a 2013 survey, almost half of women said they search someone on Facebook before a first date. The number is probably even higher now.
Pre-emptive social media creeping has some potential upsides. For instance, you may discover common interests that you can bond over that might not have otherwise come up.
It also allows people to potentially weed someone out before actually spending time on meeting up. This might save you some time, but it might also cause you to miss out on someone you would get along with.
Social media searching can be helpful for discovering serious issues, like a guy having a girlfriend or the fact that someone has a sketchy criminal history.
When it comes to the smaller things, though, it might cause people to become too picky and can easily lead to misjudging someone. You can’t really get to know someone just from their social media profiles. You might accidently count someone out who you would have had chemistry with.
When it comes to social media stalking, it seems that moderation may be key. Feel free to use it to check out the important things, but don’t spend too much time on it and don’t be too quick to jump to conclusions.
Once the relationship begins, you really start to see the effect social media can have. It starts out with the Facebook relationship status change. Change it too late and you might be met with suspicion or confronted about a lack of commitment. Changing it too early could be extremely embarrassing. It’s just so complicated!
As far as the relationship status, it’s helpful to communicate with your partner about it to make sure you’re on the same page.
When it comes to posting statuses about and pictures of your significant other online, opinions differ and the right thing to do may differ based on the situation.
Some people enjoy seeing posts from their partner about them. To them, it shows that their companion is proud of being with them and wants to share their happiness with their friends and family. In fact, a study from the University of Wisconsin-Madison found that couples who listed themselves as ‘in a relationship,’ with each other, posted photos together and wrote on each other’s Facebook walls were more likely to stay together.
Posting too much about your relationship and your partner can be a sign that you’re overcompensating. Seeking validation about your relationship online may be a sign that the relationship itself isn’t providing you with enough.
Again, it seems the key to a successful interplay between relationships and social media is moderation.
Jealousy and Suspicion
Your partner’s social media activity and the activity of your social media friends may also impact your relationship.
A study of 205 Facebook users found that a higher level of Facebook use led to more relationship conflicts related to the site. This may be fueled by the ability for a significant other to remain connected to exes through social networking sites and the fact that you’re constantly exposed to pictures of other potentially attractive people. It’s not too difficult to imagine why liking someone’s bikini beach photo might lead to jealousy.
People also tend to only post the positive aspects of their lives online. People often portray their relationships as perfect, and constantly being exposed to that may lead to jealousy and unrealistic expectations.
To counteract these issues, don’t say anything to someone on Facebook you wouldn’t be comfortable with your partner seeing and keep in mind that you’re not getting the whole picture of someone’s else’s relationship from their social media posts.
Another big issue with relationships and social media is that it can distract us from spending time with our significant others.
Looking at your phone during a date or other quality time can be perceived as rude and make someone feel like you’re not interested in being with them.
Often, people don’t even realize they’re distracted or ignoring their partner. A Florida State University study found that even if we don’t answer a message or look at a notification, just hearing the alert is distracting. This lack of attention can reduce feelings of closeness and lead to dissatisfaction.
Silencing, turning off or putting away your phone when you’re with your partner can help solve this issue. You don’t have to do it all the time, but set aside an hour a day or a few hours a week where you spend time with your partner and leave your phone completely out of it.
If you use social media and you’re in a relationship, chances are the two are going to affect each other somehow. By using social media in moderation as well as honestly and mindfully in regards to your relationship, you can maximize its benefits and minimize risks.