If it feels like social networking sites, like Facebook and Twitter, are ruining your relationship, you're not alone.
New technology brings greater ease in communication and connecting. There are no borders and few boundaries. A person on one side of the world can have a very intimate and private interaction with someone on the other side of the world via the web. Flirting, jealousy, infidelity, arguments and breakups can all revolve around social networking.
According to a recent ABC News report, Facebook activities are being cited more and more in divorce filings and are also being used as evidence in child custody cases.
Of course, it's not literally Facebook that is threatening anyone's relationship, it's how these sites are often being used.
What makes social networking so popular is also what makes it potentially dangerous to your relationship. It's easy, quick and we sometimes forget that it's oh so public.
While joking back and forth with someone you once had a crush on in high school on Facebook seems completely harmless and innocent to you, your partner might not agree.
The direct messages between you and your co-worker that start out focused on work gripes and morph into spouse gripes and morph yet again into flirting could open the door to something you're weren't consciously intending.
You might unexpectedly find yourself in an online or in-person affair all because of these “harmless” jokes, pokes, messages and posts.
As faithful to your relationship as you believe you are, be honest with yourself. Is there anything about your social networking posts or interactions with others that you'd be embarrassed or uncomfortable for your partner to know about? Do you frequently keep secret from your partner who you've been chatting with online?
If so, take a second look at your online habits.
Do you tend to do your social networking when your partner isn't home or when you can be alone on the computer? Do you seek out particular people from your past (or present) whom you may be sexually attracted to...even if you are sure you'd never act on those feelings? Do you habitually complain about or put down your partner in your posts?
The idea here is to prevent an affair before it happens.
If you recognize that you are secretive about what you do when you're on social networking sites, explore your motives. What seems to be compelling you to do what you've been doing?
Identify your unmet needs.
In the vast majority of cases, people who cheat don't feel like their needs are being met in their relationship and so they look to others. The need might be for affection, validation, confirmation that you still “have it,” sexual satisfaction or companionship.
If you find yourself turning mostly to others-- especially if it's one particular person-- to meet your needs, you might be headed for an affair. Again, this might not be your conscious intention.
Identify what specific needs you have that aren't being met in your relationship. Please remember, it is not your partner's job to make you feel a certain way. It is YOUR job to notice it when you feel unfulfilled and then it's YOUR job to do something about that.
So many people don't even realize that they feel like their relationship is missing something until they have already broken trust and cheated or betrayed their partner in a different way. Stay tuned in to you so that you can know when you yearn for more.
Create and stick to social networking agreements.
Doing something about your unmet needs is probably going to involve you making some changes. When you recognize what your unmet needs are, think about some possible changes you could make in your habits, behaviors and words.
Agreements-- that you make with yourself and also with your partner-- are a wonderful way to put those changes into effect so that you can start to feel more satisfied with your relationship.
For example, you could make an agreement with yourself that you will no longer IM or direct message with a particular person (or people) you feel attracted to.
You could ask your partner to create an agreement with you to set aside one evening a week for connecting with one another. This can be a time to hang out, be silly together, make love, talk, exercise together or whatever you feel moved to do.
Stick with the agreements that you make and notice how you feel. When you're on Facebook, post about the great times you're sharing with your partner!
Susie and Otto Collins are relationship coaches and authors who help couples communicate, connect and create the relationship they desire. Click here to get their free ebook, Passionate Heart-Lasting Love.