Facebook is the biggest social phenomenon of them all: over the past nine years the user base has grown from one million to ONE BILLION! By now, almost everyone knows someone who has used Facebook to reconnect with a long lost lover from the past or who met someone new and started an affair. In fact, we know that Facebook is the launch point for a high percentage of affairs, but is the same true for breakups? Does Facebook contribute to breakups and divorces? The answer is that it depends; in some cases yes and in others, no.
A new study found that high levels of Facebook use among couples significantly predicted Facebook-related conflict, which then significantly predicted negative relationship outcomes, such as cheating, breakup and divorce. What that means is that the more time one or both of you spend on Facebook, the more likely you are to have conflict and/or infidelity in your relationship. You are also more likely to split up or divorce.
But here’s the caveat: it’s mainly in new relationships, less than three years in duration. If you’ve been together longer than three years and one of you starts using Facebook a lot, apparently that is less likely to provoke jealousy. Presumably, your relationship is more committed at that point so you are less likely to break up over Facebook.
What’s the real lesson here? Too much time on Facebook means you may be bypassing real relationships in favor of fantasy connections. Face to face is how we connect, it’s hardwired in our brains and it's how we form lasting relationships. It may seem like it’s less risky to find people on Facebook and flirt on each other’s walls, but the reality is that it makes your real partner feel left out. Jealousy — too much of it — rips apart your bond.
My best advice: minimize Facebook and maximize looking at your partner’s face. Deepen your real world connection and Facebook won’t be nearly as appealing.
About the author: Nina Atwood, M.Ed., LPC, is a nationally known psychotherapist, author of five self-help books, and frequent expert media guest. Read Nina’s transformational books; for women: Temptations of the Single Girl: The Ten Dating Traps You Must Avoid, and for men: Date Like a CEO: Leadership in Life and Love for Men. To successfully date online, get Nina’s $0.99 cent eBook Internet Dating for the Savvy Single. Get Nina’s free eBook as well as loads of free advice and Love Strategies at www.singlescoach.com.
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