The social network especially Facebook has brought great benefits to us by
• Enabling the world to feel closer and more connected,
• Highlighting social, environmental and political issues and
• Making families and local communities tighter.
It has also created dramatic adverse effects upon our relationships.
1 ‘While many a romantic relationship can trace its way back to Facebook, so too can many trace their demise. The always-online-all-the-time mentality of the Internet-gen means that all of the old and familiar slings and arrows aimed at our attempts at coupledom are being upgraded, thanks to technology. The effect? A digital minefield that we not only have to navigate, but end up constantly booby trapping ourselves’
There is a lot of research that shows Facebook can be dangerous to all stages of relationship from:
- Meeting Each Other, to
- Developing and Deepening the Relationship, to
- Ending the Relationship
1. Meeting Each Other
Too much too early, that is too much info, too many pictures that can easily be misinterpreted, too much chatting and posting. While this used to evolve over three or four weeks, now in the digital world it happens in three or four hours.
This digital pace does not allow time for our emotions to fully arise, settle in and give us their wisdom. This can leave us feeling overwhelmed, confused, hurt and disappointed with unreal expectations and imagined projections.
Profiling yourself, that is creating a digital profile that will please your potential partner. Obviously this is inauthentic and often leads to more dishonesty when the truth later emerges, as it always does. You have trapped yourself and lied and confused someone you supposedly love.
Ego Imaging is where you project a personality that you would like to be but in actuality are often far from it. We all do this to some extent in our normal lives but it is possible to achieve this to a far greater extent with the tools available in the digital world and on Facebook.
Consequently we spend much more time projecting our ego rather than learning about each other from one on one experiencing. This digital ego will always fail at relationship.
2. Developing and Deepening the Relationship
Researchers have recently created the term “Facebook-induced jealousy” and it has been found to damage relationships for couples of all ages.
Communication of emotions is dangerous on digital because it leaves it open to interpretation. Facebook-induced jealousy often leads to arguments concerning ex partners.
Facebook usage can also cut into precious free time that might be spent relating to each other face to face. In addition, it can create jealousy and a feeling of being devalued as “Friends” on Facebook are being given preference over me.
3. Ending Relationships
The greatest toxicity of all from Facebook is most likely at the ending of a relationship. “Design for Forgetting: Digital Possessions after a Breakup ” looks at how we used to store our memories in a box in a cupboard but now they have become precariously displayed on Facebook where they are publicly visible and accessible, unforgettable and irremovable.
No more can you hide them in a closet till your heart heals or even burn them in an avenging backyard fire.
Now with Facebook we can torture ourselves hourly with seeing our ex’s updates and photos while painfully reminiscing over past photos of when you were both happy with each other.
1 “Many participants reported severe problems in using common technologies such as Facebook during the breakup, such as [one participant’s] difficulties with an ex-partner who maintains ties with her family, hindering her efforts to move on,” the study says.
“I miss him. His uploads on Facebook make me feel hurt,” the participant explained of one ex whose profile she could view but not contact. “’What hurts are pictures with his new friends and new experiences, because I can see him but cannot talk to him. I have thousands of questions in my mind but I cannot ask him.’”
“Breakup practices on Facebook are complex with reported difficulties in signaling changes in relationship status, removal of ex-partners from the friends list, and repeated surveillance (‘stalking’) visits to the ex-partner’s profile,” the study says. “Unfriending is difficult as its online conventions have yet to be agreed, and digital traces of the relationship are persistent on Facebook, suggesting exhaustive removal although this is not always under one’s control.”
1) Try deleting your Facebook account or not using it for a trial.
Many couples I have worked with have experienced so much conflict, jealousy and misinterpretation from Facebook they have chosen to remove it completely from their lives. The time that this freed up, the extra focus on the relationship and the message that you are more important than Facebook, meant that their relationship did improve significantly.
2) If you are going to use Facebook follow these guidelines:
a) Support each other through Facebook by posting anniversary photos and other agreed pictures making Facebook a platform for the expression of your love. Not mentioning the relationship on Facebook can leave one partner feeling ignored or unimportant.
b) Set agreed boundaries as to what photos can be posted and tagged, who can be friended [eg ex partners]. How much time will be spent on Facebook is important to agree upon and schedule into your daily routine. This should leave time for checking in, decent conversations, playing games and family interactions. Also removing phones and laptops from the bedroom allows more focus on each other, intimacy and romance, not to mention peace and relaxation.
c) Communication especially where emotions are involved should be face to face rather than digitally. It is so easy to misinterpret statements where there is no body language and often the worst case perception will be applied by the reader. Consequently, never post anything that is not perfectly clear and can’t be misinterpreted. Set up times and spaces that are screen free and consciously create loving communication exercises or games.
d) Dirty Laundry made public will always come back to bite you. Keep it private and it will be a lot easier to handle when a healing recovery arises. You might not have to tell all your friends that what you posted has now changed.
e) Transparency is vital for a truly healthy relationship. That means sharing passwords, asking and answering any questions about anything on your Facebook page.