The Effects of Social Networking Sites on Relationships

Posted by Rachel Nauen

Our relationships today often have a third-party, and it’s causing some issues. Social networking sites are heavily incorporating themselves into our relationships and we’re hurting from it.

According to a study conducted recently by the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers, more than 80% of the divorce attorneys polled have seen an increase in the number of divorce cases using social networking evidence.

It makes sense – how often do you “Facebook creep” your significant other? How frequently do you check out their Twitter timeline? Do you log on to see their new connections on LinkedIn or MySpace? Are you guilty of analyzing and drawing conclusions from their song lyrics and statuses?

Chances are you or someone you know have dealt with a relationship issue that arose from a form of social media. Infidelity is finding an easy outlet through social networking sites. Liking someone’s photo or sending them a DM (direct message) on Twitter are both ways to reach someone in a secretive way online. AIM and Facebook chat also offer a way to chat privately. “Social media has changed the way infidelity is discovered. With spying, posing as someone else and countless other ways individuals have schemed to discover infidelity, the possibilities are endless”, says Belky Perez Schwartz, a psychotherapist in Florida.

After finding discrepancies in a partner’s online behavior, one then has to deal with the issue of breaking up publicly through these networks. It’s hard breaking up with someone. Social networking sites have made it even messier. Before these sites, when you broke up with your significant other that was it. You didn’t have to see tagged photos, the “single” relationship status, or deal with the messy “defriending” situation. Now, there are loads of questions and gray areas.

Indiana researcher Ilana Gershon is exploring the study of Internet break-ups. “Online breakups are an emerging social media phenomenon,” she explains in an Indiana University interview, “And the appropriate and accepted online etiquette has yet to be determined for the kinds of social dilemmas online breakups present.”

What do you think about the presence of social media in a relationship? What benefits could it have? Are there social networking ground rules every couple should discuss?  And what about the dreaded end – what is the proper etiquette for ending the relationship and dealing with its aftermath?

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10 responses to “The Effects of Social Networking Sites on Relationships

  1. People are becoming more and more antisocial with dating. Its like, I’ll just ask her out on facebook and see if she says yes. LAME. Come on guys, lets step up your game. Just because the technology is in your lap doesn’t mean chivalry is dead. Also, as far as breaking up goes, I defriended my ex’s, one permanently and one non-permanently (several times). If you want to make it easier on yourself to not be a creep and not be hurting over who he/she is friending or talking to wall-to-wall, and not be thinking about every move their making then make the first move. It’s that simple. It’s important to have the time away from them and if you are friends with them on Facebook or Twitter you’ll never get the chance to regroup.

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  3. I dealt with the whole untagging pictures, de-friending and then re-friending thing this whole summer and part of this last semester as well. Social media, most notably with Facebook, complicates break ups much more than I believe necessary. You still have to see that other person constantly via your news feed; I mean obviously you two are going to have mutual friends on Facebook and you will see the two of them chatting. The thing that I find most irritating is having to see what that person is up to, even if you truly don’t want to, unless you defriend them (which can create drama in and of itself…believe me). Personally, I sort of hate Facebook, but until all my friends are on Twitter, I guess I’ll just have to keep it.
    – Jared

  4. I recently just had a friend find out through Facebook her boyfriend was cheating on her. While he was completely in the wrong, he actually turned the tables on her and got angry with her for checking his facebook. I’m not sure where the line is.. It’s hard to define. Should couples have each others’ passwords? How do you know they aren’t cheating? I’m not sure what the answer is, however, as mentioned above, I think it truly is possible to have a secret life through social media.

  5. I think that social media can be heaven-sent, in some situations. Being in a long-distance relationship myself, my boyfriend and I take advantage of facebook messaging and send each other virtual mix tapes via youtube videos. It definitely makes getting to know each other, in a manner other than phone calls, easier.

    There are definitely relationship barriers when it comes to social network. I don’t think passwords should ever be shared. Every relationship needs privacy, and having complete access to your significant other’s facebook/twitter/etc. password is a dangerous thing to obtain. Whether you like it or not, you’re going to be tempted to creep on their page and read all of their messages to their old girlfriend/boyfriend. That’s never good, let alone trusting.

    Ending a relationship is tough, and I can imagine that the Internet aftermath can get pretty ugly. I think a lot of rules need to be considered when something like this happens. If passwords were shared, they need to be changed. It’s not a matter of spite, it’s a privacy thing. There’s no need to delete every picture you have together–untag yourself if it bothers you that much. Creeping on the other person is only going to make things worse, so save yourself the trouble and hide them from your feed if need be.

    In conclusion, I think social media can be a huge positive aspect to relationships, if they are utilized correctly. I think it requires a lot of trust and understanding. Don’t get caught up in it. If that girl/boy posts on his/her wall, who cares? They have friends. It’s a good thing.

  6. Christy Wittmer

    I think this is one of those topics you don’t really think of till it’s brought up. One thing I can say is that I often wonder about those people who have a new girl/boyfriend every month it seems. You have photos, quotes, comments, posts on your wall you have to get rid of. How ugly is it for you? I don’t figure why on some profiles I see they are no longer dating a person and are in a new relationship, but they choose not to delete the intimate photos of their earlier relationship. That’s gotta be weird for their partner don’t you think? They go on expecting to see the recent photos they snapped together that evening and they are greeted with the ones of the person they have replaced. Don’t know about you, but I wouldn’t want to compete with that.

  7. I consult with a dating coach who specializes in college relationships. One of her biggest issues with college relationships today is that they are far too dependent on impersonal forms of communication such as Facebook, Twitter, AIM, etc., and I completely agree with her. It’s impossible to build and strong, lasting relationship online or over texting, and I think our generation has missed the memo on how important face-to-face communication really is.

  8. I think if social media poses a problem for your relationship that it’s a matter of trust and maturity. At my highschool if your relationship wasn’t “facebook official,” you may as well be single. Unfortunately, I’ve had my own bad experiences with facebook and relationships, all that in hindsight reflected a lack of trust in the actual relationship. I agree with Erika that social media can be a blessing in certain circumstances. I also think that it reflects the bigger picture of society becoming too dependent on technology.

  9. I agree with Erika, in the fact that passwords should not be shared between couples. Someone I know knew her boyfriend’s Facebook, Twitter, even his Blueview password. She would go on and look if he had any messages from other girls, any facebook chats that were left up and she would read everything. Everyone has to have their privacy, even in relationship where your supposed to be able to share “everything.”

    With the tagged photos, I agree with the weirdness of leaving intimate photos up once you are done with a relationship. On the other hand, I know of someone whose boyfriend untagged every photo they were in together, and deleted every photo he had of her on his page. Personally, I see that as a cry for attention and a big slap in the face. But where is the happy medium? Do you delete the photos where you’re hugging and kissing, or do you have to delete them all? Social media has put a lot of pressure on couples, and can cause unneeded drama.

  10. I really think it depends on the person, like Erika said, it can be useful for long distance relationships. But I definitely find it unnecessary when I would see comments like “hi honey I’m sitting on your lap right now.” Honestly, the whole Facebook world doesn’t care or need to know that.

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