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What’s the 411 on Social Media and Relationships?

A girlfriend is suspicious of her boyfriend’s phone activity because of its impact with social media and relationships

Social media can be helpful if it’s used wisely but it can become a threat to your relationship if it’s not.

Key takeaways:

  • Couples are meeting online now more than ever as social media has become more popular.

  • Social media itself is not bad or good; its impact depends on how it’s used.

  • Research shows that social media can have both positive and negative effects on relationships.

  • Setting digital boundaries can help mitigate social media’s potential negative effects.

  • Attending therapy can help if social media is negatively impacting your relationship.

Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you know what a big role social media has in our lives today. Almost everyone uses it in some way. Research shows that around seven out of 10 American adults use social media, and it’s one of the most popular ways to spend time online. There are numerous social networks, from messaging platforms like Reddit to professional networking platforms like LinkedIn, and apps for virtually everything in between, like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and TikTok.

Then there are the dating apps. In 2020, 270 million adults worldwide used dating apps, representing an increase of nearly double in the past five years. 39% of U.S. couples met their partners online in 2019. Social media, obviously, is a great way to meet people. But, what if you’re already coupled in a monogamous relationship?

Like anything, social media can be disastrous when used inappropriately. Although its use is prevalent and widespread with no signs of slowing down, social media doesn’t have to be a source of problems for your relationship. Let’s talk about social media and relationships, its impacts, and what to do about it.

So…should we just delete social media?

Social media in and of itself is not inherently bad. Its outcomes really just depend on an individual’s usage. While there’s lots of research showing its harmful effects, there is also research that speaks to the positive benefits of using social media.

In an Australian study, most respondents didn’t suffer negative impacts on their relationships due to their social media usage. In fact, results showed that those who have their partners as “friends” on platforms were less likely to report concerns. The research concluded that for some couples, social media is helpful for the relationship.

The negative effects of social media on relationships

Now that we’ve established that social media isn’t all bad, let’s talk about the ways it can be harmful to a relationship. Here are some of the ways social media can negatively impact a relationship.

  • Comparison. There’s a saying that “Comparison is the thief of joy.” Since you’re only seeing people’s highlight reels – what they want you to see, which is generally their best times – it can be easy to fall into the trap of comparing your relationship to someone else’s, which can be detrimental to your own.

  • Poor body image/Self-esteem. Whether we’re conscious of it or not, social media shapes our ideas of beauty. This can lead to poor body image and self-esteem troubles, which can in turn impact relationships as well as intimacy and your sex life.

  • Increased jealousy. There’s been research linking social media use with higher rates of jealousy and relationship dissatisfaction. That’s hardly surprising when we consider the unrealistic expectations that it spreads. If you have an insecure attachment style, research has shown that social media is just one more stressor for you, making you more likely to spend time on it monitoring your partner’s activity. Algorithms can further this cycle by showing your partner’s activities on your feed.

  • Excessive stimulation. Social media provides access to constant stimulation. It’s like an endless stream of dopamine hits. Spending a lot of time on it can cause you to check out of your actual life while you’re busy checking out everyone else’s fabulous lives – and make yours seem relatively boring. You may forgo connection time with your sweetie for social media connection, which can definitely strain a relationship.

If you’re seeing any of things these happening in your own relationship, it may be time to cut back on your social media use, set more stringent boundaries for it, or seek professional help.

Get support from a qualified, caring therapist in the South Florida area

Having professional help to assist you and your partner in setting appropriate and fair digital boundaries can be a gamechanger. Couples therapy can also help you and your partner rebuild trust in the relationship if it has been lost. Couples therapy can help improve your communication skills, strengthen your relationship, and help you and your partner identify and break repetitive relationship patterns and roles.

If you and your partner are trying to recover from an affair or build intimacy following one, couples therapy can be tremendously helpful. Having a highly-trained therapist that can hold space for you and your partner to make the changes your relationship needs can be a gamechanger for it.

The team at Love Discovery is ready to welcome you with open arms. If you’re ready to get started in therapy to help facilitate healing within yourself and your interpersonal relationships, make an appointment with any of our therapists today. Feeling hesitant about how we can help? Call 305.605.LOVE (5683) for a free 20-minute consultation.

We are here to help you improve your mental health and your relationship, and support you during a challenging time in your life.

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