Facebook is a wonderful social tool that keeps us connected with friends and family in our busy daily lives. But used in the wrong way, it can become a liability in both our lives and our relationships. Here are five ways that unhealthy couples use Facebook.
If you recognize yourself in one or more of these ways, you may want to re-evaluate your use of Facebook. Cutting back on using it may benefit not only your own feelings of self-esteem but also your romantic relationship.
1. Sharing something inappropriate or embarrassing.
The number one cause of arguments and fights among couples is when one partner shares something inappropriate or embarrassing on Facebook. It may have been meant in harmless fun, but one person’s “fun” is another person’s embarrassment or shame. Think “Oh, here’s that photo where my partner has a big piece of food on their face and nobody told them” or posting a status update, “I hope you enjoyed your cold dinner last night. You deserved it.”
Arguments between people don’t belong on Facebook (and nobody wants to be thrown into your drama). Such oversharing can quickly escalate a small argument into a big fight. Such sharing is more likely to create a rift than to create a tighter bond. When in doubt, ask yourself, “Is sharing this something others would be interested in seeing, or am I doing it just to get back at my partner or cause them discomfort?” Better yet, ask your partner if you mind the sharing you had in mind to get an answer from the horse’s mouth.
2. Spending too much time on Facebook.
Facebook is a great way to check in on friends and family. But if you or your partner are spending all of their free time checking in on other people’s lives, that doesn’t leave a lot of time — or brain cycles — to focus on your own relationship. Creating quality time isn’t magic — it just requires both partners’ focus and attention on one another.
Avoiding such time and instead focusing on what others are doing in their lives can be a sign that something may be missing from your own life or relationship. Think of all the things that could be done with that same amount of time devoted to your own life. And do you really need to bring Facebook to bed with you? I suspect not.
3. Comparing your life to others.
We love to see what others are up to and sharing in their lives through photos and updates. But sometimes other people’s photos and updates can make our own lives seem dull and drab in comparison. Some people may even feel pressure to have a “better” life just so they have something interesting to post to Facebook.
When people use Facebook as a social comparison tool, research has shown people inevitably feel worse about themselves and their own lives. That’s because Facebook offers only the most positive glimpse into others’ lives — an idealized version — showing only the good things that happen (and very rarely the bad). You can’t help but feel like your own life and relationship are lacking, provoking negative feelings about yourself and your partner.
4. Using it to explore possible hookups.
Who doesn’t enjoy feeling needed, wanted, and loved? Years spent in a single relationship can make a fling with another person or an old flame seem enticing. Facebook allows us to communicate and flirt with others so easily, we tend to forget how such flirting can sometimes lead to something more if we’re not careful.
Couples who use Facebook or other social media to explore potential hookups are helping to sabotage their current relationship. Even if never acted upon, the behavior is reinforcing an attitude that your current relationship is expendable and your current partner doesn’t deserve any respect.
5. Creating online drama.
Technology has made it easier that ever for us to share things with one another — even when those things were meant to be kept private between two people. So what happened less often in real life happens more often online, just because it’s easier to copy others on a reply, or forward a text or message to someone who was never meant to read it.
Just because you can do something doesn’t mean you should. What may seem harmless to you — forwarding a text, message or photo to someone else — may turn out to be a significant issue for your partner. Check in with your partner before sharing something that may be seen as sensitive, even if you’re doing so “privately.” Because, as countless millions have already found out, nothing electronic is as private as you may have thought or intended it to be.