Facebook has been an Internet phenomenon, with over 600 million members and showing no signs of abating in growth. Along with this huge growth has been the emergence of a new culture of relationships. I call this relating 2.0. And along with the promises for connection are the pitfalls that have the potential to ruin your relationship and your reputation.
After years of hearing about Facebook dilemmas from singles and couples in my therapy office, here are my top five Facebook faux pas, and how to avoid them happening to you.
Facebook Faux Pas #1: Dumping your ex via a status update
While this may sound amusing, this actually happens all too frequently. Dumping your partner via a status update, or more commonly, by changing your status to 'single', can be damaging, hurtful and is often an act of passive aggression. The update is then broadcast in your news feed to all your friends and your ex.
This is often about anxiety. Anxiety about endings, closure and saying goodbye. The challenge is to end your relationship respectfully and with dignity. If nothing else, the web 2.0 has given us all the ability to connect AND disconnect with others with as little emotion or care as we want.
While the web can help those that struggle to connect, it's equally damaging for those that want to disconnect with as little interaction as possible.
Relationship Tip: If you're ending your relationship, do it with dignity and respect. Tell your friends personally, and if you want to change your status update to single, consider what your intention is. If it's to hurt your ex, then it's time for you to focus on healing yourself rather than damaging your ex.
Facebook Faux Pas #2: Publicly vent about your partner's failings
We've all seen this one. The status update that you read and gasp on the inside, usually accompanied by 'I can't believe he said that'. The relative anonymity of the Internet creates a false sense of safety. A sense that you can get away with a lot and there will be no consequences. It's a new culture that has people using Facebook as a platform to vent about their partners and then receive support, validation or have a virtual 'pity party'.
While venting about your partner online may give you a short-term sense of relief, it has the potential to impact you in the long term. Think of it like this, would you walk into a crowded restaurant of your closest friends and start shouting to them all about the latest complaint you have about your partner? Probably not, you say. So why would you do it in a virtual forum like Facebook?
Relationship Tip: If you're having an issue with your partner, address your concerns directly and offline. Dealing with uncomfortable feelings is an important developmental skill that all couples need to learn. Every time you take this approach, you are flexing your emotional muscle, developing resilience and helping your relationship thrive.
Facebook Faux Pas #3: Spying on your partner's Facebook page