Social media has become such an essential part of our lives, that we don’t realize how much it affects people negatively. Seventy-two percent of the American population uses some form of social media.
Having such easy access to the lives of others has the potential to be both beneficial and detrimental. It can help individuals increase the quality of their relationships and could also cause issues in relationships.
“Social media is cool, but my girlfriend and I made a deal to delete it once we realized how much we were comparing our relationship to others’… The worst part about it was we were comparing ourselves to people we’ve never even met.” David Jordan, 21, said.
This is the reality for many social media users. Studies have shown that people who spend more time on social media report more conflict within their relationships and have an increased likelihood of breaking up.
Because of the negative impacts that social media can have on a relationship, some couples agree not use it. Other couples see the value in it and use it to enhance their relationship. Some of the ways that social media impacts relationships include:
Increase in mistrust
Sending a direct message or “sliding in the DMs” is a temptation that has ended numerous relationships. When one or both significant others participate in social media infidelity-related behaviors, it causes a breach of trust that some relationships do not bounce back from. Before social media, people had to develop in-depth lies to make sure they did not get caught. Claims of “working a late shift” or “running some errands” have now turned into utilizing the Instagram feature that erases your messages immediately after you send them. It is easier for cheaters to cover their tracks and get rid of the evidence of this form of cheating.
“I once had a boyfriend who did nothing but DM girls all day. I really only found out because I went through his phone. I was sick to my stomach and never spoke to him again after I found out,” Avianna Macias, 23, said.
Increase in comparison and decrease in satisfaction
People often share happy occasions in their relationship but prefer to leave the trials private. Even if one is aware of the realities of a relationship, this can cause them to compare their relationship to others and potentially decrease their satisfaction. Social media has also introduced the idea of “relationship goals.” The concept is centered around viewing a couple’s relationship through their social media posts, with no real context of their dynamic, and deciding to create a relationship like that. People see couples going on “baecations,” buying extravagant gifts, sharing smiles and laughs in front of the camera and showing all of the best parts of their relationship. The problem is, social media is not accurate. “Relationship goals” can cause people to chase after perfection when it does not exist. Happiness exists, but social media portrays a vision that there are no hardships, which is not realistic.
“I think it reached a point where I felt like if she was not buying me the brand-new Jordans, she must not love me. It sounds stupid, but I saw everyone posting theirs from their girlfriend and I wanted that too,” said Jordan.
Another issue that social media causes within relationships is partners feeling like they are not getting the appropriate amount of attention. During moments where the pairs should be spending time together, one or both partners are consumed by what is happening on their cell phones.
“I cannot be with a person who always wants to be on their phone. Sometimes I want to unplug and spend time with just the two of us. If they can’t do that, it’s just not the right relationship for me,” Macias said.
While there are many negative effects that social media has on relationships, there are also positives that can come from it too.
Thoughtful gift ideas
Couples can utilize social media to help them find ideas to make their partner feel special. Outlets like Pinterest, TikTok and Twitter expose individuals to ideas that they potentially would not have thought of on their own.
“My favorite thing to do is look up things that others have done for their girlfriends and add my own spin to it. It’s always cool to put a smile on the face of someone I love,” Jordan said.
Opportunities to express appreciation
“I love appreciation posts. I think they are so sweet and cute. I love to see it done for other people, and I love when it is done for me,” Macias said.
Many share those same sentiments. Having a partner express their love publicly can increase happiness in a partner and cause them to feel appreciated. While that should not be the only thing that one does to make their loved one feel special, it gives the partner being posted extra confirmation about how proud their significant other is to be with them.
It lets you know you are not alone.
Often, people think that things they experience in their relationships are abnormal or they only happen to them. Hearing people open up about their relationship issues reminds people of how regular a lot of things are.
“I used to think that if I argued with my girlfriend, it just meant we were not a perfect match. One thing that seeing other couples open up on social media helped me realize was that everyone argues. After that, I stopped thinking all of our arguments meant a breakup was coming soon,” Jordan said.
Social media has helped this generation overcome hurdles in relationships that those before never had to worry about. Whether positive or negative, social media always has something from which the public can learn.