Some couples live their relationships on Facebook. Their tagged-love statuses, cuddling photos and professions of love signal bliss in their coupledom. However, it also invites Facebook friends to see some of their separations in real-time. The “so-and-so is now single” sends newsfeeds into frenzies of likes and “what happened” comments. Facebook stamps the date of a couple’s demise and their reconciliation, as seen in the “so-and-so is now in a relationship” statuses.
Facebook offers a window into the turmoil of relationships, but the social network can also damage relationships since it opens the couple to external criticism. Doctoral students at the University of Missouri’s School of Journalism found that excessive Facebook users tend to have Facebook-related conflicts in their relationships. These issues lead to negative outcomes including divorces, break-ups and physical and emotional cheating.
Lead researcher Russell Clayton and his colleagues surveyed Facebook users between the ages of 18 and 82 to gauge their social-networking habits.
“Previous research has shown that the more a person in a romantic relationship uses Facebook, the more likely they are to monitor their partner’s Facebook activity more stringently, which can lead to feelings of jealousy,” Clayton said. “Facebook-induced jealousy may lead to arguments concerning past partners.”
Some have witnessed or have experienced Facebook-related trauma in relationships. He likes pictures of other women, but doesn’t comment on his girlfriend’s newest profile picture. Argument. His ex-girlfriend likes 10 of his pictures. Fight. Those suspicions may seem trivial, but some couples have cause for concern
“Also, our study found that excessive Facebook users are more likely to connect or reconnect with other Facebook users, including previous partners, which may lead to emotional and physical cheating.”
The trend of Facebook-induced envy is prevalent in newer relationships.
“These findings held only for couples who had been in relationships of three years or less,” Clayton said. “This suggests that Facebook may be a threat to relationships that are not fully matured.”
Seasoned relationships seem less-affected by Facebook-conflict.
“Participants who have been in relationships for longer than three years may not use Facebook as often, or may have more matured relationships, and therefore Facebook use may not be a threat or concern,” Clayton explained.
The report, which will be published in the upcoming Journal of Cyberpsychology, Behavior and Social Networking, recommends couples limit their personal Facebook use.
“Cutting back to moderate, healthy levels of Facebook usage could help reduce conflict, particularly for newer couples who are still learning about each other.”
Despite the findings, some don’t think Facebook is responsible for ending relationships. Andrea Syrtash, co-author of It’s okay to sleep with him on the first date and every other rule of dating debunked, doesn’t see social media as the reason relationships end.
“I don’t think we can blame Facebook for our relationships being ruined, but 1 in 5 people in a recent survey did blame the network,” Syrtash said. “It’s all about boundaries. You can use the network, but if you don’t have boundaries, then it will interfere with your love life.”
Syrtash credits lack of trust for fueling Facebook-induced jealousy.
“I think if you think your partner is cheating, you will go to his email, is social networks, and you will find evidence,” Syrtash said. “But couples that have trust probably won’t find much if they open their partner’s account. It’s really based on your gut feeling.”
I have another solution: Don’t befriend your partner on Facebook.