Facebook And Your Relationship

May 28,2012

A recent study by UK company Divorce-Online found that one in three divorce filings in the US cite Facebook as a contributing factor. That number is up from one in five divorces, reported a mere three years ago in 2009.

Partners will cheat with or without the help of social networking, but Facebook makes it much easier to find old flames, flirt privately, and share intimate words and pictures. K. Jason and Kelli Krafsky, authors of the book Facebook And Your Marriage, list eight ways that Facebook can lead to the demise of your relationship:

1. Traipsing down memory lane with an ex-flame: Finding an old crush, hook-up, or boyfriend/girlfriend on Facebook is really easy. Reaching out to a past love interest and reminiscing about the “good ‘ol times” recalls the feelings for one or both of the people.  The longer the jaunt down memory lane, the better the chances that an emotional or physical affair will occur.

2. Letting Facebook dominate every waking moment of the day: The smart phone allows people to be a few thumb clicks away from Facebook and access their News Feed anyplace, anytime. This in turn can feed an addictive personality and create a sort of co-dependency with the site. Unrealistically comparing the new and exciting information people are posting online with the drab and boring life from one’s own real-time existence can create all kinds of problems.

3. Airing dirty laundry via status updates: The “What’s on your mind” question in the Status Update box is there as a suggestion, not a command. Relationships have good times and bad times. Using Facebook to announce marriage problems, debate marital issues or rant on a spouse is only going to make a conflicted relationship more “complicated”.

4. Over sharing on relationship problems with others through chat: Divulging marriage issues through a private, real time interaction with someone other than your spouse creates intimacy with that person.  Depending on the motives of one or both people in the chat session, things can quickly evolve from sharing about a current, bad marriage to setting a foundation for staring a new relationship.

5. Caring for online citizens in Cityville or virtual animals in Farmville more than real time family and spouse: Playing games on Facebook is wildly popular. The excitement of the online game, the notification of new resources to help advance in the digital game, and the exchange of items for the game can leave real-time families and spouses wanting time and attention.

6. Flirting on public posts, pictures and profiles: Commenting is a part of the Facebook culture. Watching what you post (and how it comes across to others) is part of online etiquette. Ensuring that comments are not inappropriate is a part of personal decency.  Flirting with no one but your spouse is a part of fulfilling the wedding vows.

7. Friending people who directly or indirectly threaten the marriage: The Facebook log in page says “Facebook helps you connect and share with the people in your life.”  Depending on who the people in your past and current life are, this could be a good thing or a bad thing.  And if they have a negative effect on a marriage, it’s even worse.  These include, but are not limited to: exes, negative influences, flirts, wacky family members, and crude friends.

8. Refusing to talk about what happens on Facebook with spouse: Facebook is no longer a topic for “water cooler” discussions, it is the water cooler.  If it is something everyone is talking about, and where people spend a considerable amount of time each day, why shut your spouse out of this part of your life?  Taking Facebook off the table for discussion indicates that there could be something that someone is hiding.  Stonewalling on Facebook (or any other issue) is fatal for a marriage.

Is Facebook negatively affecting your relationship? Do you need support in setting up Facebook boundaries with your partner? Call (415) 658-5738 or visit my Appointments page to set up a consultation.

 

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I have bachelor’s degrees in human sexuality and sociology from Brown University, and a master’s degree in counseling psychology from the California Institute of Integral Studies. I’m also a licensed psychotherapist. I’ve been working in the sex therapy field since 2002 and have been featured by The New York Times, O: The Oprah Magazine, Real Simple, and many more.

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