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Is Social Media Damaging Your Romantic Relationship?

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In today’s world, it is almost hard to stay connected if you don’t have social media accounts. Gone are the days when people used to write letters, or wait for phone calls (especially on a landline), face-to-face conversations can even be a rarity. More often than not, communication occurs through apps like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat, and old school texting. Adolescents tend to spend even more time than adults on social medial platforms.

At the time of writing, Facebook alone has over 1.8 billion active users. The average American has an average of five social media accounts. Social media usage has risen by 176 million users in the last year. A recent study suggests that teens spend over two hours per day engaging in social media networking. Many people spend their time at work, school, and even relaxation in updating their social media accounts.

Many people check in to find out what’s going on with their peers; this can be an attempt to feel more connected to their world. Sharing a moment by moment update of one’s day has become a cultural norm. So what’s the problem? Unfortunately, people don’t tend to posts about the negative aspects of their lives. While this may be appropriate to their relationships and privacy, it also sets unrealistic expectations of relationships.

As we are surfing through our own newsfeeds on Facebook, Instagram, Flickr, etc, most of us have a tendency to compare our own lives to what we are seeing. Many couples I work with in counselling often talk about how social media is causing problems in their relationships. It’s not uncommon for one partner in a relationship to feel the other spends too much time on social media for example. Or another common topic I hear is that one partner feels jealous that the relationship isn’t as romantic as what they see online. Or one partner begins to have doubts about their relationship because they appear to fight more than what they see online.

It is important to remember that because we don’t tend to post photos of our arguments or insecurities in a marriage. This can lead other couples to believe they are the only ones having these issues. Social media tends to only represent ‘photo moments’. If you feel like social media has taken a toll on your relationship here are tips to help you reconnect with your significant other:

  • Have guidelines around social media usage, such as no social media during dinner or when watching a movie together. This might mean leaving your phone in another room.
  • Set time limits to social media usage. In order to try to decrease your social media usage and increase your quality time together agree to an amount of time, you will spend on social media.
  • Put your phone away when out for date night. Many couples set aside quality time and then still get sucked into using their phone. Taking selfies, checking in at the restaurant, wanting to see what their friends are up to and then you spend your dinner talking about social media posts. Make an effort to not use your phone during date night. Again, this may require you to leave it behind. Go old school and give the babysitter the number to the restaurant if needed.
  • Take a break. You may need to close or deactivate your account. Sometimes social media can lead to jealousy, trust issues and the best thing to do can be to just take a break and allow for time to reconnect.
  • Don’t compare. When we see things on social media we have a tendency to compare our lives to our peers. Keep in mind that what we see online isn’t always accurate. Relationships are complex than just a few posts or photos on social media.

The use of social networking sites is part of today’s everyday life in the modern world. You can use these tips to reconnect and deepen your bond to lessen the negative impact social media has had on your relationship

Lianna Tsangarides is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker and has been working with youth and families since 2007.


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