If we’re being honest with ourselves, there are three things all of us love to do but will probably never admit: ignore text messages from people we don’t like and then claim we “totally didn’t see your message #facepalm,” call in late to work so we can go to Starbucks first, and wave our romantic relationships in front of everyone on Facebook and Instagram. In fact, what’s the first thing many people do once their relationship is “official?” Change their status, change their profile picture, and then post a string of hashtags about how #blessed they are because #bae loves them for their #innerbeauty. But hold that thought — have you ever wondered if social media is ruining your relationship? Because there’s a lot more to this than you think.
There is a great deal of research demonstrating that excessive use of social media can damage relationships, especially newer ones (shorter than 36 months long). It can increase jealousy, suspicion, uncertainty, relationship dissatisfaction, cheating, and the likelihood of a break-up. Not to mention it makes you feel like total garbage when you and your significant other are having a nice moment together and he/she grabs their phone “real quick” just to “check something.” So what do you do? Pick up your own phone to keep busy. Isn’t it so nice spending quality time together?
Even something as seemingly harmless as becoming “Facebook-official” could have detrimental side effects. Why? Because women typically feel that this automatically equates to exclusivity and a more serious relationship. Men, however, don’t frequently attach such a seriousness to it. The result could be confusion, a misunderstanding, a heated argument, or — worst of all — a break-up, where you end up finishing off a pint of Ben & Jerry’s while binge-watching the latest seasons of Girls. Think that’s an exaggeration? It’s been estimated that at least 20% of divorce cases have Facebook activity as a contributing problem.
Let’s not forget one other glaring problem regarding social media and relationships: People typically post their best moments online. They post about their perfect vacation or their killer workout or the amazing dinner they cooked. They’re not talking about how they threw up in the airline bathroom after too many cocktails in the VIP lounge or how they split their pants squatting at the gym or how they actually burned the first piece of chicken they cooked. What do you think they’re doing with their relationships? That’s right: They’re sharing the highlights reel. What results is the idea in your mind that everyone else’s life seems so perfect, but you have all these problems. What’s wrong with you? (Nothing. And BTW, studies have found that people who post too many intimate details online are actually liked less by others.)
Admittedly, I’m guilty of this myself. I’ll see a picture of a couple friends with their perfect relationship and new house and matching dish set. Then I look at my own life and the fact that my dogs smell and the floor needs to be washed and… and… WHY.
Similarly, social media can put you in a place where you’re nearly begging for likes and comments. Your motivation for portraying a beautiful relationship is completely superficial, because you’re only looking for the approval and admiration of your friends. Healthy? No. Not to mention it’s completely dishonest. If we were being real about this, we’d also post about how our boyfriends leave their dirty clothes on the floor and don’t wash their toothpaste chunks out of the sink.
Is the answer to completely abandon social media? Of course not. Most things are safe in moderation, and social media can be a wonderful way to stay in touch with people, share cool vacation pics, and occasionally give a shout-out to your SO for surprising you with flowers. But personal relationships are best kept just that: personal.