Editor’s Note: This is a guest post by Rachael Pace of https://marriage.com.
There is no doubt that social media is a great way to keep in touch with friends and family. It can give you inspiration for decorating, cooking, and can help you explore new interests and learn new skills.
But what does it do for your relationship?
Besides posting a cute couple’s selfie now and again, misusing social media can cause negativity to creep into your relationship.
Is this an over-exaggeration? No
Does using social media cause relationship problems?
The answer is yes, and the reasons why it may just surprise you. Keep reading to find out 10 ways social media contributes to your relationship problems.
1. Online infidelity
One of the ways social media causes relationship problems is by giving its users opportunities to be unfaithful to their spouse.
Professor of sociology at UVA W. Bradford Wilcox was the director of the National Marriage Project. His study, “Infidelity: The State of Our Unions 2019,” found that couples are happier when they maintain clear, strong boundaries against online infidelity.
The study went on to find that 70% of the men and women polled rated six out of nine online behaviors as a version of cheating. Some of these behaviors included:
- Having cyber sex
- Emotional relationships with the opposite sex
- Dirty talking online
Couples who blur these lines of fidelity are more likely to be unhappy, less committed to their partner, and have a higher likelihood of breaking up.
2. It’s a romance killer
Imagine you are cuddling with your spouse, and things are started to heat up. You’re kissing passionately and ready to take things to the bedroom when suddenly your partner pulls out their cellphone and starts responding to a message.
That’s not very romantic, is it?
One in 10 couples admits to checking their phones during sex. If that doesn’t sound like an interruption for romance, we don’t know what does!
3. Relationship comparisons
Social media makes it easy to compare your relationship to someone else’s.
For example, a wife posts a photo of flowers that her husband bought her “just because.”
You begin to feel jealous, thinking, “When is the last time my husband brought me flowers just to be nice? I hate that he isn’t romantic.”
But what you may not have seen was the explosive argument that the couple had earlier that day, prompting the husband to bring home apology flowers.
It’s important to remember that what people post on social media is not real life. It is highly curated content.
Social media addiction has been shown to reduce people’s attention spans.
Couples on dates, vacation, and laying in bed together now spend more time on their phones than they spend hanging out together.
This is troublesome, especially when it starts to get in the way of precious couple-bonding time.
Research shows that 46% of couples felt they were phone-snubbed (“phubbed”) by their partner. Phubbing has been linked to depression and overall lower relationship satisfaction.
5. It hurts a couple’s communication
Social media has been shown to reduce face-to-face interactions. We all know this fact to be true. After all, we’ve already “caught up” with our friends by scrolling through their Instagram feeds, so why discuss those same events over brunch?
But did you know that those who adore social media are 23% less likely to interact with their romantic partners in person?
Social media addiction can tarnish a couple’s ability to communicate. They may even prefer to text their partner about important issues rather than do it in person.
This can be devastating to a relationship, as studies show that a lack of communication is a high factor in divorce
6. Keeps the past alive
Social media users often add as many friends as they can to their private network, oftentimes this may include an ex or former love interest.
This can mean trouble for your current relationship. Not only does it open the door to rekindle a past romance, but it can make your current partner feel insecure or jealous.
The iFidelity study (mentioned above) brought out an interesting point about keeping in touch with one’s ex. Couples who do not follow their exes on social media had a 62% likelihood of listing that they were “very happy” in their relationships.
7. No more romantic date nights
Have you ever been out to a romantic restaurant with your spouse and end up spending more time on your phones than talking to each other and connecting?
Compiled research proves that having a date night at least once a month leads to happier relationships — couples who carve out quality time for each other boost romantic love and banish relationship boredom.
Those who regularly engage in date night also have better sex lives, higher levels of communication, and are less likely to get divorced.
The trouble with mobile social media is that it goes everywhere with you, even on your romantic date night.
8. Increases jealousy and paranoia
The more friends your spouse has, especially those of their preferred gender, the more paranoid it can make you about your relationship.
Becoming suspicious of what your spouse is doing online can make you feel paranoid, suspicious, can break trust, and tempt you to cross personal boundaries, such as checking their phone when they leave the room.
9. It creates opportunities to overshare
Social media gives you constant contact with your closest friends – and even total strangers!
Many couples end up oversharing information about their personal lives, such as date night locations or arguments they’ve had.
Not only is posting such information a violation of your partner’s privacy, but it can also be highly embarrassing for strangers, friends, and family to read about.
10. Damages empathy
Research published by the University of Sussex used MRI brain scans on social media multitaskers and found that those who multitask (such as playing video games/on your phone while talking to your spouse) have less brain density in their anterior cingulate cortex.
So, what does this medical jargon mean for multitasking couples? In layman’s terms, this area of the brain is responsible for emotional and cognitive control. It also helps us empathize with others.
The scans revealed that multitaskers are less empathetic than those who focus on one thing at a time.
Given that empathy is a key ingredient in building a happy and healthy relationship, a lack of it has a significant effect on your relationship.
There is no doubt that social media is contributing to relationship problems. So, start spending tech-free time with your spouse to undo the problems associated with multitasking and phone-snubbing. Banish bad behaviors and start spending quality time.
Even though social media is too intertwined in our lives to avoid it altogether, you can take measures not to let it harm your relationship. Find a way to minimize your screen time and use that time to bond with your partner and enrich your relationship.
Editor’s Note: This is a guest post by Rachael Pace. She is a featured writer for Marriage.com, a reliable resource to support healthy happy marriages.