Social media has changed our lives in profound ways, and romantic partnerships have changed as a result. Yet, while the internet can be a practical avenue for meeting potential partners, it could also take its toll on established relationships over time. From jealousy to obsessive scrolling, posting too much or not enough, social media can create cracks in partnerships, potentially pushing couples to the point of seeking relationship counseling. NJ-based therapist Chuck Beardsley explains more here.
Phones Monopolize Our Attention
Many of us turn to our phones as an escape: they offer a quick distraction and entertainment. Plus, when we scroll through social media feeds, we feel up-to-date, not missing out. It's a distraction-But it’s important to ask what we’re distracting ourselves from. It’s one thing to be checking social media at the bus stop or on the subway; it’s quite another when it’s across from your spouse at the dinner table or in bed.
When our phones suck up all of our attention, it leaves little leftover for our partners. We use our phones and feeds to replace neglecting our marriage by going out all the time-we kind of do that in the comfort of our own home. We find ourselves checked out and distracted, our loved ones notice and the marriage suffers. They may call us out on it; or, they may eventually check out themselves, too, causing the relationship to miss out on key opportunities to turn towards each other. In the Gottman world we call that turning towards and turning away. Successful couples are turning towards each other, rather than turning away. Being on your phone at a time to connect is a turn away move.
There’s no easy fix when it comes to cutting back social media. It's addictive to get likes and see what everybody else is up to, so it may take some time to break free from its hold. You could try a “no phone” policy for certain times of the day, such as during meals, or set a timer and agree to go on social media only during that window.
Social Media Makes Infidelity Convenient
A sad reality when it comes to social media is the fact that it can cross into emotional affairs and physical infidelity. What might start out as seemingly harmless compliments can quickly evolve into steamier exchanges of personal messages. The hidden side of social media interactions can spur jealousy, lying, and even full-blown infidelity.
The attention from an old flame or acquaintance can feel good, especially if it seems like the passion has been lacking in your relationship recently. Yet, proceed with the utmost caution here. Ask yourself: Would I be hurt if my partner were to do what I’m doing? Having friendships is good, having secrets is not.
Issues like these are common, and not impossible to recover from—especially if both partners are willing to work through them in relationship counseling. Yet, if you can prevent them in the first place, that’s all the better.
Social Media Introduces Complicated Issues
Chances are, you and your spouse probably have someone in your circle who likes to tout their opinions online. If you or your loved one has opposing views from a relative, friend, coworker, or someone else in either of your groups, disagreements can escalate quickly. From name-calling to blocking, ugly encounters with family members and friends can cause rifts in relationships.
Oftentimes, it’s best to simply step away from a situation where an in-law, friend, or another person in your network shares something you don’t like. You can also opt to unfollow individuals without unfriending them so that you don’t see their content, and encourage your partner to do the same.
If you’re experiencing relationship issues resulting from social media or another source, don’t hesitate to turn to Chuck Beardsley, LCSW, for relationship counseling. NJ couples trust in Chuck to help them build a roadmap for overcoming common challenges and coming out even stronger. Contact his office today to get started.