Social media has impact our lives in so many ways — some good, some bad. We’re connected to more people and informed more quickly than ever before. It gives us the ability to know what’s happening in our friends’ lives and share important moments in the fastest way possible. But what has it done for intimate relationships? Challenges arise as a result of social media that have never been an issue for significant others before. Check out these seven ways that social media may be messing with your relationship and steps to overcome the stressors.
1. You Check Your Significant Other’s Phone in Secret
There’s no question that social media has taken the ability to access personal information to a whole new level. But are you doing it in an emotionally healthy way? Do you check your significant other’s phone when they leave it unattended? Do you check to see what they’ve been liking or who they’ve been messaging? If you find yourself grabbing your partner’s phone whenever you get the chance, even if they’re trustworthy, you may want to create boundaries for yourself. Leave the room when you get the urge to grab the phone, or tell your partner and be honest about your behavior. These small changes can help you nip this bad habit in the bud and save your relationship.
2. You Notice Your Partner Keeps Liking Exes’ Posts
It can be frustrating to find out your partner still connects with his or her ex over social media, but how you handle yourself makes all the difference. For example, your partner may not attach any meaning to liking those posts while aimlessly scrolling away. It’s OK to bring it up to your significant other, but you also have to be accepting of the reaction. Start a nonconfrontational conversation about the way it makes you feel when you see that he or she is still connected to an ex. If your partner respects you, he or she should be inclined to stop this behavior or at least work to alleviate your concerns. If you don’t get this type of response, it may be time to reevaluate.
3. Your Friends Never Like the Status Updates of Your Relationship
The lack of likes can raise a red flag. And you might worry that your friends don’t approve of your partner. But slow down. Social media has a way of creating false assumptions and unnecessary stress. Grab coffee with your friends and check in with them. The lack of likes could be a miscommunication because your friends could be on a social-media vacation. Or you could ask what their thoughts really are about your special mate. Maybe they’ve seen warning signs to which you’ve been oblivious. Maybe they’re concerned about your emotional health. Either way, you’ll never know if you don’t ask, so be brave and bring it up.
4. Your Significant Other Checks Out Emotionally While on Social Media
Have you ever been in the middle of a conversation with your significant other when a Facebook notification pops up and your conversation falls flat? In relationships, it’s easy to let a third wheel get in the way of intimacy. If you find that your partner is unable to pull away from the phone, ask him or her to set up healthy boundaries. Make a rule that phones are only used during certain times of the day, or put away when you’re together. If he or she is completely unable to do this, you may want to check in with a mental-health professional about social-media addiction.
5. Your Partner Doesn’t Post About Your Relationship at First
It can be hard to know when it’s appropriate to go public with your relationship. But what happens when your significant other isn’t on the same page as you? Oftentimes, this subject can be a source of stress for a new couple, as one partner feels excited to share and the other one isn’t quite ready. Before you hit “Post,” have a chat with your partner about their expectations as well as ideas on how they’d like to proceed with social media. Check in with each other to see if ideas have shifted, and make sure that you’re both in the same spot. Keeping the intimacy between the two of you can eliminate hurt feelings in the future.
6. Your Partner Is Overly Concerned About Your Social-Media Past
With social media, it’s easy for people to stumble across past relationships and breakups you weren’t ready to share with your partner. If your partner seems to keep bringing up previous relationships and wanting to dig into your past, set firm boundaries. Everyone has a past, but it shouldn’t have to ruin your present or future. Share as much as you feel comfortable with, but tell your partner that anything beyond that isn’t relevant to your here and now. If you find that he or she can’t drop the subject, recognize that this is an issue that has more to do with your partner’s insecurities than genuine concerns about your past.
Read more: 9 Signs Your Relationship Is in Trouble
7. You Decide to Leave Social Media and Get Called Out by Your Friends
The most effective way of dealing with the stressors social media brings to a relationship is leaving social media altogether. If you spend a lot of time feeling anxious about things on social media, it can decrease your concentration, increase depressive symptoms and keep anxious thoughts heightened. It seems like a no-brainer to be done with these feelings, but sometimes the backlash from others can slow you down. Once you decide to delete, write a list of all of the reasons for your actions as well as the feelings of empowerment that this control gave you. Just be sure to stay in touch with your friends in other ways so they don’t feel like you’re shutting them out completely.
Read more: 7 Reasons to Say NO to FOMO
What Do YOU Think?
Are you in a relationship? Do you post about it on social media? Do you think social media is more of a help or hindrance in your relationship? Do you set expectations and boundaries with your partner? Have you ever talked about the kinds of things you post with your significant other? Share your stories, thoughts and suggestions in the comments below!
Kate Cummins, PsyD, is a licensed clinical psychologist who specializes in health and neuropsychology, depression, anxiety, life transitions, and relationship issues. She has two private practice locations in San Francisco and Los Angeles. She works at Stanford University with veterans and PTSD research, as well as in the acute rehabilitation hospital setting for a hospital in Los Angeles.