Every one online makes it seem so ordinary ... and easy.
Nearly all of us are on multiple social media accounts these days; in fact, many of us now tweet and post even the most mundane details of our daily activities.
Spending time on social media is a new cultural norm, constantly changing the way we interact with the world. But, what we don't think about often enough is how social media impacts our intimate relationships, and more specifically, how it may even influence our decision to divorce.
Research is clear — social media profoundly influences our relationships, and not always in a positive manner. Just take a look at your own social media behavior, it probably reveals quite a bit about your level of marital satisfaction (for better ... or worse).
Here are 4 toxic ways social media increases relationship dissatisfaction and slowly nudges you down the path toward divorce:
1. You monitor your spouse like a stalker
In the "good old days" before social media, we had little or no idea of our partner's social interactions while apart. The old adage "out of sight, out of mind" comes into play here because if our partner flirted innocently with another person, it would usually remain confidential, with us remaining none the wiser. But now, we can see nearly every move our partner makes online (whose picture they liked, whose posts they comment on, etc). Watching who they chat and interact with peaks our interest and before you know it, you're not "just noticing," you're full on monitoring them.
Have frank conversations with your partner about social media and relationship boundaries, creating clear agreements about acceptable (and unacceptable) online behavior. Doing so instills a stronger sense of commitment to the relationship as a whole, while overtly defining relationship limitations.
2. Your green-eyed monster becomes activated
Most of us feel jealous from time-to-time, but social media awakens your inner green-eyed monster more than you'd like. Jealousies can arise regarding the amount of time your partner spends on social media, which takes time away from "us time." Or perhaps, who your partner talks to makes you jealous (what that person looks like, if your partner is fun and playful with them, what that other person's life is like compared to yours, etc.).
Talking honestly about feelings of jealousy is never easy, and makes us feel really vulnerable, but taking the plunge makes a huge difference in putting those feelings to rest. Most people don't want their partners to feel hurt, so discussing the reasons for your jealousy hopefully inspires further exploration of ways to reduce any damage caused by social media use.
3. You put your dirty laundry on display
A recent study found that couples who use social media most frequently report that their relationships are in trouble. Perhaps, there's a few possible reasons for this, including that those unhappy in their relationships seek support from friends and family online. But, talking badly about your partner (and your relationship issues) on social media is trouble waiting to happen.
Instead, discuss how you feel with your partner. Explain your feelings face-to-face (and one-on-one). This allows you each a chance to engage in an open discussion. If you're afraid or unsure what to say to your partner, seek professional mediation services from a relationship therapist. You both could benefit from more clearly understanding your relationship dynamic.
4. Peer pressure nudges you to end your marriage
Sites like Facebook tend to suggest connections with like-minded people, which may encourage those in unsatisfying relationships to seek connection with those in similar situations. This can result in secretive or illicit communication on social media, which is often how affairs begin. Just like peer pressure in adolescence, social media can influence one's decision regarding their relationship (whether to stay in it, or to end it).
In fact, research shows that couples with online friends experiencing divorce thought more about ending their own relationship. It's almost as though when we face potential divorce of those around us, it give us permission to consider if we may want to end our own relationship or marriage.
So, don't leap into big decisions about the fate of your marriage until you're certain you're not feeling influenced by peers online. While watching one person's separation from afar may give you more courage, remember: You'll never see the full picture. Social media make us braver, but also more dishonest, which means you're likely only seeing half of the story. The grass is not always greener on the other side.
Obviously there are instances when divorce truly is the only option.
Definitely address any deep-seeded relationship problems. But also know the quiet, yet powerful influence social media has on your relationship. And take everything you see (and do) there with a grain of salt.
If your relationship is in trouble, take a time out from social media and have real, raw, honest discussions with your partner instead. Stop focusing externally to ensure you're making the right choices for your relationship ... and for yourself.