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Social Media And Relationships

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Social Media and Relationships

The overwhelming use of social media negatively affects many intimate relationships. In my case, it never fails that I’m out to dinner with my husband and his work calls, and just as his predictable norm, he answers. Not only is taking calls at dinner to me rude, but it has impacted our marriage in many ways. In addition to Facebook other social media outlets such as Twitter has impacted our relationship. I chose this topic for three main reasons. First, to help me understand why this seems like an epidemic. Second, to shed light on whether social media usage was truly that harmful to intimate relationships or if it could there be another variable. Third, to explore when posting, sharing, talking, tweeting and other communication through social media crosses a boundary in hurting an intimate relationship. For me, I can’t help but wonder why and how it got so bad, this is why I chose this topic. How does jealousy, mistrust or boredom affect the amount of time spent on social media? Why is this happening and what can be done to decrease the negative effect that Social media causes in intimate relationships?

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Analysis and Discussion

Social media was introduced in the 1990’s. These types of social internet-based platforms started to become grander when Facebook was created and was made available worldwide in the mid-2000’s. This opened the door for people to communicate in exciting new and different ways. It also changed the way most people communicated. Prior to this cellular devices also changed the communication pathway when they became less expensive and more popular. One can trace the change in communication with friends and family through the introduction of those new ways to get and stay connected. Along with this came easier ways to get instant gratification and access. As with most good things, too much can be harmful. This is what we are finding today. Relationships are suffering from this newfound access into people’s lives. Specifically, why do we believe what’s on social media and not see through the context of what people want us to see? Through seeing things through this filter, we then form unrealistic expectations of our own relationships. This is important as the rate of divorce increases, its harming families and creating space for this cycle to continue from generation to generation. In a 2010 survey by the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers (AAML) found that four out of five lawyers reported an increasing number of divorce cases citing “evidence” derived from Facebook (Shorkey & Uebel, 2014; Valenzuela, 2014).

In the case study by Darvell, Walsh, & White we are introduced to the Theory of Planned Behavior (TPB), and how if any applies to partner relationships stating “The TPB posits that intentions are the most proximal determinant of behavior, intentions are influenced by three things, attitudes, an individual’s positive or negative evaluation of performing a behavior; subjective norms, an individual’s perceived social pressure to perform the behavior; and Perceived Behavioral Control (PBC), an individual’s perception of control over per- forming the behavior (Darvell, Walsh, & White, 2011). ” In their study, they asked a series of questions to couples who are Facebook users, such as age, gender, relationship length, Facebook logins and time spent per login. Some additional demographic information that they used were other variables such as self-esteem and trust. In conclusion, they were able to connect the level of partner monitoring based on those variables (Darvell, Walsh, & White, 2011).

The Social Media website, Facebook is used by over 500 million people a day. There are a lot of opportunities to check in on what everyone on your “friends list” is doing and even your partner. The article talks about how Facebook is providing a medium where monitoring, investigation, and even stalking behavior is considered acceptable use of the internet. In their mission statement, Facebook says they “Give people the power to share and make the world more open and connected. ” This is great in theory, a place where we can do nothing but see what everyone else is doing. If people are using Facebook to check on what others are doing, where is the line between stalking and using facebook ‘too’ much (Clayton, 2013; Darvell, Walsh & White, 2011; Facebook, 2017).

In a study that was published in the Cyberpsychology, Behavior and Social Networking, it was noted that the younger a couple is and the shorter they had been in a relationship the more they used Facebook and therefore affecting their relationship. What is interesting about this study is that out of the 244 people that were studied by the amount of time they spend on Facebook a day and how it was related to how many times they checked on their partners on Facebook. ‘The constant use could lead to emotional cheating, physical cheating, breakup, and even divorce (Clayton, Nagurney & Smith 2013). ” (Darvell, Walsh & White, 2011; Facebook, 2017). Most would agree Facebook has more negative effects than those already mentioned in human behavior such as internet addiction, anxiety, jealousy. This could be because you have a complete history of your every move for the last however long you have had your account. When you get into a new relationship the first thing most people do now is check someone’s Facebook page. They go through and check their photos, who they are friends with, maybe find out where they hang out. In contrary when there is a breakup one can also use these social media sites to check up on the person or even stalk them. Clayton goes on to say in the article that exposure to an ex-partners Facebook could even interfere with the ability of a person to move on from a broken relationship (Clayton, 2013).

Transformation and Peacebuilding

Accessibility is the root one of the many ways social media has become like an addition. Like most addictions, they can cause or stem from issues with self-esteem, envy, judgment, mistrust and the potential for an altered reality of oneself and others. These roots issues can be manifest through various triggers. Through the use of social media sites like Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and Snapchat, you can paint a picture of a perfect life and even take on this new ‘identity. ’ It leaves room to escape your life and seek at attention with instant gratification. This can do damage to how you see yourself and others in your intimate relationships. One can be assessed for internet addiction with the Internet Addiction Test (IAT-R). (Deleuze, et al. , 2018) When one escapes their reality and portrays an alternate image of themselves on social media it can be the result of past wounds or fear, which can be another root of this issue. In the article “Like” Me: Shopping, Self-Display, Body Image, and Social Networking Sites it mentions how “Media-propagated appearance ideals are difficult, if not impossible, to achieve for most women because these ideals are far thinner and lighter than the average body size and shape of women in the United States. ” These are unrealistic expectations of who one should be in regards to external appearance. Even those with a keen eye can not always spot when something has been photoshopped. This can lead people, especially young people with a false sense of perception of what society thinks one should be (Strubel, J. , Petrie, T. A. , & Pookulangara, S. (2018). Group psychotherapy is an option to help one overcome self-esteem issues and therefore benefit their intimate relationships (Kim, 2014) We as a society want instantaneous gratification/satisfaction, yet another root cause.

Impulse control with so many devices to gain access to the internet has possibly made internet addiction worse than drugs and alcohol. One does not have to get in a car to go get the internet in most cases. It is on their phone, computer, tablet or IPAD. Programs like the Empowerment Education Program (EEP) can offer help for those needing to be empowered to learn self-control and therefore increase self-empowerment (Joo & Park 2010). There are assessments available like the UPPS-P that can assess the root cause of impulsivity in five areas such as (urgency, premeditation, perseverance, sensation seeking, and positive urgency) and thereby leading to awareness and understanding and even forgiveness (Deleuze et al. , 2018). Taking ownership for shortcomings in an intimate relationship is difficult for some people. Storytelling is a great method to bring awareness to a situation. Rehabs have used story-telling as treatment options for years. Individuals can find all sorts of stories from other families on the internet. Some find solace and comfort in knowing they are not alone. The one thing that the internet has brought is awareness and connection along with its addictive qualities. People can use the internet in positive ways to help find solutions to most problems.

Although some are not scientifically based it does offer options and direction for those feeling alone and lost in their intimate relationships. Also, support groups can be found and utilized in a positive manner with limits to prevent the solution becoming an addiction. Having so much accessibility is a contributing factor to social media addiction. One can access it anytime anywhere. Parent education is key to this transformation to work. When parents are involved and they see the potential of how this can affect their children, they often change. The goal is that from early on the children can be intercepted and know that things like family time and dinner are electronic free zones, but they lead by example. When they lead by example they too start having more time for their partner which in turn helps their relationship. Citation Self-Image and perception of how one interprets how they should be based on social media can change. The first step in the transformation is education at school.

As an elective course students could take a class that will break down things like Photoshop and Snapchat filters. So many people don’t like how they look on camera without a filter. In her blog Stewart said “they’ve made me have unrealistic expectations of my face. ” referring to filters. This course has the potential to show students while they are still young that media is photoshopped, and that the reality of what you see has had hours of work done to it. This would be a great time for them to talk about why filters are important and they feel like they need to use them (Stewart, 2018). When parents are involved and they see what is going on they can impact their children greatly. This is a way to “use the children” to change a marriage, both current and the children who will one day be married themselves. Ways that therapists have worked with their clients who suffer from instantaneous satisfaction problems is by using programs like the Empowerment Education Program (EEP). Therapists are then able to educate the client and teach them self-control with various techniques. Some ways EEP is used is by helping people develop coping strategies to change the behavior of the individual with support groups, inventory, setting goals and even practice abstinence. In regards to how the affects intimate relationships Dr. Young had this to say in 1999. (Although this research is nineteen years old it offers great ideas. ) “family therapy may be necessary among addicts whose marriages and family relationships have been disrupted and negatively influenced by Internet addiction. Intervention with the family should focus on several main areas: (a) educate the family on how addictive the Internet can be, (b) reduce blame on the addict for behaviors, (c) improve open communication about the pre-morbid problems in the family which drove the addict to seek out psychological fulfillment of emotional needs on-line, and (d) en courage the family to assist with the addict’s recovery such as finding new hobbies, taking a long over-do vacation, or listening to the addict’s feelings. A strong sense of family support may enable the patient to recover from Internet addiction” (Young, 1999) Dr. Young mentions many things in the article that we as a society still face today. Ownership for our past wounds and hurts and willingness to do different, be different and change relationships in the process of recovery. Taking time to talk to communicate and to feel empowered to express our feelings in a safe environment is critical for all people. We’re losing grip on how to have conversations with people in person and meet people in person.

The behaviors are how society is showing us that social media is important. We can win free things from social media contest, it’s how we keep up with celebrities and Hollywood gossip. Even the president has social media and it’s something to talk about. It’s almost a way to make you feel if you don’t have social media you miss all the ‘juicy gossip. ’ This also can serve a purpose with one’s old wounds, hurts, and traumas by allowing them to feel better about themselves because another is worse off, or suffering more than them.


In conclusion, we can see many reasons why this is happening and the negative effects it has on our intimate relationships. When we choose to get on social media instead of spending time with our partner it affects the relationship.

Although in the beginning, the effects are small, they add up over time. They damage relationships and most likely everyone around gets sucked into this cycle too. This paper shares problems and some solutions for them with assessments/tests, steps for therapy/counseling and by educating the parents through the children, we can see there is hope. When we do this we actually are actually playing into a key part of the transformation model to change relationships. We can change the attitudes we as a society have toward social media. Which then changed the behavior we have and then how we act. Lastly, we change relationships that change the future.

29 April 2020

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