What social media is doing to marriage—and divorce—in the U.S.

3 min read
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Social media’s impact is one of the most important conversations of our time. Many have wondered at what point constant connectivity is a help or a hindrance.

The effect of social media on marriage in the U.S. isn’t easy to summarize. Though still unsubstantiated, some claim social media overuse is similar to addiction. If an individual experiences anxiety or depression symptoms, and social media has a big presence in their lives, there is a significant chance it plays a role in their symptoms.

These websites also impact the less tech-savvy. Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and more introduce new concerns to the divorce process and challenges for people in otherwise healthy relationships.

Social media may not be the reason your marriage lost its spark. However, its role might be more prominent than we’d like to believe.

Social media creates unhealthy distractions

According to one study, Americans in college describe “withdrawal” from social media as similar to physical withdrawal from drugs and alcohol. The compulsive nature of these websites can result in distraction from interactions and activities that help make personal relationships stronger. When you use social media in your relationship, you’re not mentally present.

Another study indicates roughly one-quarter of partnered and married adults feel cell phone usage has become a distraction and source of tension in their relationship. About 8 percent admitted to arguing with their partner about how often they use such sites.

Social media provides unrealistic standards

By its very nature, social media encourages us to share the highlights from our personal lives and relationships—not the blooper reel. People like to idealize what they can’t possess, and social media is a wealth of the unobtainable.

Drawing constant comparisons to things we perceive as idyllic can cause feelings of envy and dissatisfaction. We doubt our ability to measure up, despite there being no reason to think so. Experts refer to these feelings as Imposter Syndrome.

Social media overuse can result in breakups

Researchers found that excessive use of social media correlates with higher rates of cheating and breaking up. These results relate to how and how often people use these websites.

Constant monitoring of a partner’s online activity chips away at trust over time. Other detrimental effects include the temptation to contact or meet up with old exes. People tend to wonder about what could have been, instead of investing energy in the here-and-now.

Social media can make the divorce process harder

Divorce is the right solution for many couples. For better or worse, however, the process is different with social media in the equation.

In cases where alimony is under consideration, displaying one’s spending habits on social media—including practical purchases, like a needed new car—can negatively impact one’s financial obligations.

Social media provides a real-time and tempting mouthpiece for aggrieved parties. Even a momentary lapse of poise on social media can create a lasting negative impression people can use against you.

Social media can be a Litmus test for couples

Before we pivot into the more desirable effects of social media on marriage, here’s one neutral element. A study suggests that when people share details about their relationship online, it’s because they’re content.

Whether the use of social media provides dividends is a question of how you use it. Couples should set boundaries and limits. However, for a large number of couples, the going public aspect serves as a sounding board.

Social media keeps some couples in touch

Every relationship is different, and some couples are forced to spend more time apart than others. Many people have learned to use social media as communication and accountability tools in one. You can cheer each other on and share special moments when you can’t be there in-person.

Some people use social media to stay connected with their partner’s friends. With platforms like Facebook and Twitter, it’s easier to form new friendships and relationships. It’s an easy way to strengthen your sense of community.

Social media can help couples solve problems

According to one survey, married and partnered social media users sometimes argue about their usage. These websites also serve as a silent mediator, helping couples communicate openly about problems or points of dissension.

This was true for 9 percent of respondents, who said social media communication helped them solve something they hadn’t been able to speak about successfully in person. This number rose to 23 percent when 18- to 29-year-olds in serious relationships were singled out.

Social media may have no impact at all

Social media in relationships seems like anything else—you get out what you put in. Some couples use social platforms to show off their best sides, spurring drama and jealousy. On the flip side, others use it to stay connected and maintain healthy relationships.

When asked, 72 percent of adults said the internet had no impact on their primary relationship, while 74 percent said the effect was primarily a welcome one. Around 20 percent indicated a negative experience, and four percent said the results were mixed.

When it comes to social media and marriage, a lot of variables are challenging to quantify. One benefit is the ability for partners to share their social calendars. They can also send news about local events and trade ideas on how to spend time together.

The evidence shown suggests the results depend on how well we use social media in regards to honesty and openness.

 

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