Social media is a digital platform that connects people worldwide. That means it can possibly impact your relationships.
Well, relationships evolve. And with the help of social media, even if you are miles away from your loved ones, you can still connect with them. This is one positive effect. Now, let’s take a look at some other effects.
According to a poll conducted by Branded Research, they found:
- Men are more likely than women to say that social media has had a positive impact on their romantic relationships (17.6% vs. 11.7%)
- Gen Z and Millennials are much more likely than older generations to say that social media has had a positive impact on their romantic relationships (28.4% for Gen Z and 17.5% for Millennials vs. 11.3% for Gen X and 6.5% for Boomers)
Let’s look at what this means.
Is social media bad for relationships?
The answer is it depends. It depends on how you use it. There are some instances where social media is good for a relationship, and on the flip side, there are also some instances where social media is bad for a relationship.
The impact of screen time on a relationship can be devastating. Little by little, time is taken away from connecting with one’s partner. And eventually, a couple becomes disconnected from each other. Disconnection will take many forms, such as a partner feeling unattended to, no longer important, and without the positivity of togetherness and being a team, says Sharon O’Neill, Marriage & Family Psychotherapist/Author. Such circumstances dictate social media may have a bad impact on the relationship.
Positive effects of social media on the relationship
1. Social Media Brings Better understanding.
“Social media can have a variety of positive effects on a relationship—the biggest one being an increased sense of connection,” says Dr. Carla Marie Manly, clinical psychologist, speaker, and author.
“Social media use, as with most elements of life, isn’t positive or negative in itself. It’s how we use the medium—whether social media, a movie, a book, or a news clip—to connect that matters most.”
- When we use social media to intentionally learn more about a partner’s interests, the other partner often feels seen and appreciated.
- Social media use can be interesting and connective on a superficial level, but it can also be used as a starting point for more intimate discussions.
- The simple act of commenting on or liking a partner’s posts—and your partner reciprocating—shows attentive interest and creates connection.
- Social media can also expand relationship horizons; when we use social media relationships to mutually explore unfamiliar emotional, cognitive, social, and even physical realms, both partners and the relationship tend to grow.
2. Social media works as a communication channel that helps you stay connected with your significant other.
Social media helped many couples in long-distance relationships communicate more easily and conveniently. “Instagram or any other type of social network is a double-edged sword,” says Nikolina Jeric, co-founder of 2Date4Love.
Instagram, as a social network many of us use, can be a good way to stay updated with your significant other – especially if you’re in a long-distance relationship. No matter how good with words they are, following the pictures and stories they post can put things into perspective, give context and color, and make you feel closer, even though you’re miles apart.
3. Social media may let us know whether a person is fake or not.
Let’s be honest, even though modern times gave us many privileges such as electricity, better healthcare, longer lifespan – we grew apart from each other. Many people are lonely and can fall prey to various scams over dating websites. As a social network, Instagram can help us determine better whether we’re talking with a legitimate person or not and influence the course of action we will take with this person.
4. Social media keeps our dear memories together
I think a few of us still keep physical photographs in our homes. Instead, we switched to digital completely, and Instagram (or Facebook) is usually there to keep our valuable memories safe and on display. Instagram can help us make a scrapbook of some sort that can serve as a reminder of precious moments we spent with our significant other and remind us how lucky we are to have them by our side.
Negative effects of social media on relationships:
Social media tends to have an overwhelmingly negative effect on relationships. It leads to you comparing your relationship to those you see on social media. It also often results in jealousy and suspicion, says Alexander Burgemeester, a psychologist and relationships writer.
1. Social media can lead to jealousy
Feelings of jealousy arise for a couple of different reasons. One is simply being jealous of the time your partner is spending online talking to strangers instead of spending that time with you. And if you notice your partner interacting with one particular person, then you become jealous of that person.
When you’re jealous due to your partner’s social media usage, it often leads to feelings of mistrust and suspicion. And when you’re having those feelings about your relationship, it also starts to affect your self-esteem. You can start feeling insecure and like you’re not good enough. And all of those feelings cause tension between you and your partner if you don’t address them initially.
2. It is addictive
Since social media is addictive. It can impact relationships to the point of breakups. An addiction to social media is physically and psychologically harmful. And it causes a person to forsake too much of what is healthy for the relationship: conversations with one’s partner, honest listening and care for each other, taking the necessary time to do a variety of enjoyable activities together, says Sharon.
3. It shows negative impact on mental health
Social media often results in negative effects on mental health. This includes everything from depression due to feeling left out to anxiety because you feel like you’re never going to be able to achieve what you see others achieving on social media. It’s also been proven to affect sleep, memory loss, and mental performance, says Alexander.
4. It leads to infidelity
It’s been proven in the past that social media can lead to infidelity and even divorce in some cases. People can easily contact exes or look for new hookups on social media, all without their partner knowing about it, says Alexander.
There is a strong link between heavy social media and an increased risk for depression, anxiety, loneliness, self-harm, and even suicidal thoughts. Social media tends to cause negative feelings and inadequacy about one’s life or appearance, says Sharon.
5. It gives rise to extra-martial affairs
And lastly, social media has made it easy for an unhappy, dissatisfied partner to seek others to connect with and ultimately become involved in an online affair. Whether with someone new or an ex-partner. The dissatisfied partner is looking for someone to pay attention to them, to be interested in who they are, etc. Sadly, there is a great irony to this outcome: many would not be seeking such attention online if the real relationship was the priority, says Sharon.
6. Social media makes partners lie to each other
Unfortunately, some will use social media to hide secrets and other relationships. A partner who becomes suspicious can be on the lookout for activity, which becomes an addictive, constant checking behavior, leading to jealousy, insecurity, and anxiety. None of this is healthy and will almost always compromise the relationship. Trust issues will develop, which are some of the most difficult issues for a relationship to “fix,” says Sharon.
Having focused on the downside of social media here, do keep in mind that it has so much to offer if couples keep their relationship the priority and if they maintain healthy boundaries within the world of social media.
The Bottom Line
Social media has positive and negative effects on relationships. I am not telling you to stop using social media but use it wisely. Use it with caution and make sure that you know who you are connecting with. And always be mindful of the people around you.