Safeguarding your Relationship in the days of Social Media.


Is social media a danger to my relationship? 4 Ways it can, 4 ways to safeguard, 4 question to ask.

Social media can be trouble for relationships, but if you are aware of the pitfalls, take precautions, and are honest with yourself, you can safeguard your relationship. 

There are a four major aspects of social media sites which make them minefields for relationships.
1. Most people minimize what they are doing on them.  Users view them as "innocent."  The justifications are "I only tweet him a little", "It's harmless flirtation” or "It's not like I'm cheating or having an affair."

People don’t acknowledge these not-so-innocent interactions often are affairs; if not sexual, then emotional ones.

You see, one definition of an affair is going outside the relationship to get something you should be getting inside it. This can be positive strokes, love, sex, emotional connection, someone to talk with, adoration, or a whole host of things. You seek these things through seemingly innocent social media connections, and quickly get sucked into something you didn't mean to do but now have.

2. Social media sites make it easy to connect, but it also makes it easy to cheat. Yes, cheating existed before things like Facebook, but they made it easier because when you are online you can be invisible or anonymous. Plato taught the dangers of this; he proposed humans are only good as long as they think they would be caught. If people think they can be invisible and have no repercussions, they will do what they want.

In other words, being online gives you the feeling you won't be caught.  It tempts you to push the envelope further online than in person or with your spouse listening.

3. Another pitfall for relationships is that instant communication in social media is, well, instant; it takes time out of the equation.

Have you ever been out of sorts with your partner? Before the web, especially social media sites, it would have taken time to connect with someone, talk, and get serious. Now you shoot someone an message/tweet/text to complain about your pertner,  they "support" you, and you start comparing how much of a "jerk" your partner is in relation to this other person.  The slide toward infidelity starts.

In addition, the intant-ness of social media makes it easy to go to someone else rather than fix things with your partner.  You justify and say, "My partner isn't going to make it better, I'll just go talk to _____." You create another relationship where repairing the original relationship should be.

4. Lastly, social media sites make it simple to find old flames. Face it, if someone once was a flame, there will be chemistry there no matter how good your marriage is now.  That emotional intensity was stored with your memories and you'll feel it when you reconnect. You create temptationfor yourself.

For those four reasons, social media sites make it easy to cheat and it is up to you create safeguards to your relationship before participating in any of them.  Here are a few rules:
1. Don't say or do anything you think your partner would be hurt by or disapprove of.
2. Be very clear about why you are online (to yourself and others.)
3. Keep open communication about whom you have friended or whom you talk with and what you talk about. This may mean answering some tough questions to your partner.
4. Ask yourself the following questions and be stupidly honest about them:
• "Would my partner be happy if I was talking on the phone with this other person as much as I tweet them?" Or "Would my spouse be happy if I was meeting them for lunch/dinner as often as I send or read emails to/from them?"
• "Would my loved one say what I'm doing is really innocent or not painful?  What would my partner say if they read the texts/tweets/emails I am exchanging with this other person?"
• "Am I seeking something from this other person that I could be getting from my partner?"
• "Is my relationship in trouble?" (If it is, stay away from social media sites until you do something about it.)

Lastly, if you recognize you are online to find someone else, then turn off the social media and turn back to your relationship to see if you can make it work. Please, earn your way out, don't cheat your way out.