Social media has become an integral part of our everyday lives, whether we like it or not. It has been a useful way to stay in touch with family and friends, and discover new friends who share similar interests. However, it has also presented challenges to relationships that never existed before. It also made us reassess the definition of infidelity.
Here are some common relationship issues related to social media use
- Relationship Status
Changing relationship status on Facebook can cause a lot of drama between new couples. One partner may be excited to make the relationship “official” by announcing it on social media while the other person is not so keen. This often leads to arguments that lead to questions about whether they are both on the same page about the level of commitment they have towards each other. Not wanting to share your relationship status on social media is a personal choice, but for a new partner, it could raise questions about whether their partner has something to hide, or is in hopes of meeting somebody else.
- Interaction on social media
Another common argument that arises about social media use is when one partner begins to question how their partner is interacting with people on social media who are of the opposite sex. Are you allowed to like photos of the opposite sex? Are you allowed to comment on sexy photos? Are you allowed to compliment them on their looks? How much interaction is acceptable?
- Blocking their partner on social media
Sometimes in order to avoid these arguments over social media, people decide to block their partners on these platforms in order to enjoy their freedom to express themselves online. However, this only creates a different argument as the partner is now convinced you do have something to hide.
- Spending too much time on social media
Quality time together is important to build and nurture relationships. Couples or family members may spend way too much time glued to their phones and not interacting with each other. When your loved one is spending too much time on social media and not interacting with you, this could be very upsetting, especially if you already feel like you don’t spend enough quality time together. This can lead to the disgruntled partner being even more suspicious of the attention their partner gives to somebody else online.
So what do we do to not let social media ruin our relationship?
What we understand about relationships is that human beings have an innate desire to have deep and meaningful connections with another human being. We not only crave connection, but we want to be uniquely special to another special person. That is what a romantic relationship is all about. We seek security and reassurance in romantic relationships, but also have a conflicting desire for novelty. This may be at the heart of the problem social media brings to relationships. Social media creates a rift between couples by bringing insecurity to the relationship due to the ease of finding novelty. It triggers our fear of being replaced, and the insecurities that we are not good enough.
- Listen with curiosity
When we see our partner scrolling through Instagram and commenting on photos of attractive men or women, it is easy to make assumptions and jump to conclusions about their intentions. We may usually start the conversation as a confrontation rather than investigation. I don’t mean investigation as in investigating a culprit in order to sentence them to some sort of punishment, but investigating with curiosity to understand what was happening for them. Some people may simply be doing what they have always done as a habit and did not realise after starting a relationship that it would be an issue. They may be ashamed to be called out on their behaviour and react with a lot of defensiveness.
- Be respectful and accountable
For the partners who are called out for their behaviour on social media, it is important to acknowledge your partner’s upset feelings. You may feel the urge to dismiss their concerns or minimise the issue hoping that the problem will go away. But this may only increase the suspicion and insecurity in your partner as they feel that they are not being heard. Try to stay engaged in the conversation, (sometimes accusations) and listen until your partner is completely satisfied. Ask them how you can help them to feel safer with you emotionally. Help them understand your point of view without being defensive. If there are boundaries that you need to set with people of the opposite sex reflect on this. As your relationship evolves to a more committed relationship, it does make sense to have more boundaries with other people in order to help your partner feel more secure and comfortable. The safer they feel with you, the more rewarding the relationship will be for both of you. If you feel that they are being too controlling and you feel restricted, be honest to your partner about your feelings. But also be respectful of their feelings about your social media use.
Healthy and happy relationships are based on mutual respect and good communication. If you can speak to each other about important issues with respect and listen with curiosity you will be able to come to a mutual understanding and agreement that works for both partners.