It’s hard for a lot of people to imagine a life without social media. These platforms have been growing steadily over the past few years, reaching almost 4 billion users worldwide (more than half of the human population). Social media has found a way into our everyday lives, but also, into our relationships.
But can this apparently innocent hobby of scrolling through our screens negatively affect our relationships?
As it turns out, yes. Whether you love it or hate it, social media affects how we interact with friends, family members, and romantic partners. It’s impossible to ignore how it impacts human relationships, both positively and negatively. So, in order to have better relationships, we need to understand how social media can have undesired effects on our relationships.
How Social Media Can Affect Negatively Your Relationships
First and foremost, social media significantly impacts marriage and any intimate relationship. I often hear problems and conflicts between two people because of their habits with social media. One particular area is when a couple has experienced a betrayal issue and if they are in the midst of recovering from the betrayal, social media must be removed if the couple wants to recover from any distrust and painful issues. Building or rebuilding trust is very hard work and social media has a significant negative impact on both individuals in the marriage.
Another issue is the patterns of addictive behavior that you’ve required single or married. Without the correct use of social media, you can find yourself suffering some of its most terrible consequences. Here are a few ways these consequences can manifest:
Social Media Addiction
There is something we need to set straight once and for all: Social media is incredibly addictive.
One famous Harvard study found that social media lights up the same areas on the brain that activate when consuming addictive drugs. The truth is that social media was designed to be this way. Our brain’s reward system loves receiving notifications and likes because it releases a rush of dopamine.
Between 5 to 10% of Americans are addicted to social media, and that’s an incredibly high number. Social media addiction can be tremendously bad because people will often perceive their internet profiles to be more important than their real-life relationships. This means having less meaningful connections, less rewarding experiences, and worse relationships with those around you. Not being in the present can make your friends, family members, and your partner feel that you’re not there to support them.
Spending too much time on a screen can also cause a romantic partner to feel envious and become suspicious of your activity. This obviously opens the door for couples arguing over social media. Most Americans spend from 2 to 4 hours every day just on social media. Even oversharing can have negative effects. This study found out that the partners of people who overshare on social media tend to have lower relationship satisfaction.
And honestly, that’s too much time. Some people could even need some form of therapy with a psychotherapist to overcome this addiction.
Envy and Jealousy Are Just One Tap Away
The link between social media and envy is something that many researchers are studying. Perfect bodies can affect those who are already struggling with body issues and self-esteem. People will sometimes complain about their partner’s feed being filled with beautiful bodies and that could make them angry and cause troubles in the relationship.
When there is no communication in a relationship, social media can make things worse. It’s important to listen to your partner and their needs. People who trust each other will suffer fewer consequences from their partner’s Internet activity.
You can also feel jealous of what your friends are doing, the people they’re dating and so many other things. Some people tend to check out their ex-partner’s profile and can end up feeling jealous of their new relationship and become nostalgic.
FOMO, Anxiety, and Depression
The Fear of Missing Out (a.k.a. FOMO) is another way in which social media can cause trouble in our relationships. Opening Instagram and seeing a friend’s party where they didn’t invite you could cause you to feel that you’re being left out. This can make you question your whole relationship with this friend and increase your feelings of perceived loneliness.
Social media has also been linked with symptoms of depression and anxiety. Seeing your friend’s day-to-day lives can make you feel anxious. With such a seemingly perfect life on their feeds, you could feel that you are lagging behind your friends. But you must keep in mind that most people’s feeds are curated and made to look perfect!
The Internet doesn’t offer insight into people’s daily lives, you can only look at their best moments, and that’s not how real life looks like. In the picture with the perfect family, you can’t hear their arguments and in the post of someone’s most recent achievement, you can’t see all the hard work behind.
Everything that affects you, will have an impact on your closest relationships. If you feel that you might be struggling with anxiety or depression, you can contact a psychotherapist to help you out.
Social Media Has Made Cheating Easier Than Ever
With so many dating apps and so many people online, it’s very easy for people to cheat on their significant other. It’s super easy to reconnect with an ex, a past friend, or an anonymous person on the Internet. In couples that are already having problems and miscommunication, this makes it incredibly easy to meet someone and cheat on their significant other.
A dissatisfied partner has so many ways to find a new sexual partner thanks to social media.
Signs That Social Media Is Affecting Your Relationships
It’s actually not that hard to determine if you have an addiction to social networks. Here are some quick examples to know if it’s doing more harm than good:
- You end up feeling envious after checking your accounts.
- It can make you feel overwhelmed. It affects how you perceive yourself compared with your friends.
- You feel stressed or anxious when you can’t log in.
- You can’t stop checking someone else’s profile (whether an ex, a current partner, or an old friend).
- It affects your sleep pattern and your overall concentration levels throughout the day.
- You spend a considerable amount of time on social media.
All in all, if it’s affecting you and your current relationships, it’s probably a good idea to cut some time off from your screen.
The Bottom Line
We all know how incredibly helpful social media is. The world has never been so communicated and in tune with news from all over the place.
But everything’s not perfect. Too much social media can create communication problems, self-esteem issues, addiction, and mental health problems. All of that can cause problems in couples and friendships who are struggling already. Some people could even need some form of psychotherapy to overcome these issues.
Jousline Savra, a licensed Marriage and Family Therapist in Burbank, California, is committed to help you grow closer as a couple. You will learn new communication skills, and learn to work through and resolve conflict in your relationship, give her a call today to start your journey to a new life.