Are you guilty of any of these Facebook crimes?
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
Another aspect of relating 2.0 is we now have the ability to monitor and follow the lives of people close to us in a voyeuristic manner. This was never possible before, or certainly not to the levels and details that Facebook facilitates today.
On the plus side, it's great to stay connected to family and friends, share successes, birthdays, achievements and milestones. However, all too frequently I hear in my office of individuals and couples that use Facebook to spy on where their partner is, who they're with and what they're doing. This information is then used as ammunition in their fights, or feeds their insecurities about themselves and the relationship.
Relationship Tip: If you're spying on your partner, consider what's your intention? It's likely that you are feeling poor about yourself or there's something missing in the relationship. Rather than let Facebook feed your jealous feelings, listen to yourself and what YOU need from yourself AND your partner. Then do the work in your relationship to address your concerns, leaving Facebook out of the equation.
Facebook Faux Pas #4: Request that your partner delete friends
On the heels of my last point, I often hear individuals ask their partner to delete friends that they don't approve of. These friends may be an ex-boyfriend or ex-girlfriend, or a close friend that raises an insecurity in the partner. What's important here is that the insecure partner is doing two things; they're dealing with their insecurity by trying to control the life of their partner, and they're feeding their anxiety and insecurity by focusing on things outside of themselves. Neither of these help build your relationship.
Relationship Tip: Again, if your focus is on the outside, you need to move it to the inside. That is, don't pour energy into parts of your relationship you have no control over. This is not only a futile exercise, but it's also a way to sabotage the trust and intimacy in your relationship. Focus on your own feelings and look at how you're feeling about yourself. It's likely that's where you need to do some work. And we know the more you view yourself as a worthy and deserving human being, the greater the chances of creating an extraordinary relationship.
Facebook Faux Pas #5: Disclosing too much information ( a.k.a. "TMI")
This ties into faux pas #2, which is in essence is about not reflecting on your behaviour before you take action. A common pitfall in social media is disclosing too much information, or disclosing sensitive information, that perhaps you don't want a large group of people to know about.
We have all heard stories of this events coming back to bite people in the future; lost job opportunities, lost relationships and damaged reputations. These have all happened because someone responded to an urge or feeling without reflecting on the consequences.
Relationship Tip: If you have an urge to make a large disclosure on Facebook, consider what the consequences might be. Take time out, reflect on what might happen if you take action, and even better, sleep on it and decide the next day. Giving yourself time to reflect is a way of caring for yourself, your relationship and your reputation.
What Facebook relationship faux pas have you witnessed on Facebook? Please share your comments below.