Relationships are not formed the same way in 2017 as they were in 1967. Fifty years ago, a man saw a woman that he liked, he approached her, and asked her out on a proper date. Today, there are dating apps that allow one to swipe left or right, chat via text message, and meet up somewhere. Based on someone finding a hookup, let alone love, online makes it safe to say that social media and technology will be the first source of communication they go to if they did not meet in person before it all began. While social media may help some relationships, many relationships have fallen apart by its devices. Thus, I propose that social media negatively affects relationships by taking attention away from the other partner, lessening communication skills, and creates unhealthy relationships.
How many times have you gone to a restaurant with a friend and they were on the phone the entirety of dinner? Feelings of neglect creep in, and then you are mad because whatever is happening on their phone is more important than your time and conversation. The New York Post has a name for this new phone addiction: “phubbing.” “Phubbing” takes place “when conversation is interrupted by attention being given to a smartphone rather than the person you’re with” (Matthews). The amount of times that this could possibly take place in a day would cause tension in any relationship; especially for people whose primary love language is quality time. Quality time is tainted and no longer feels like quality time when one person is always in their phone. Many arguments are started due to one person feeling like they are being neglected or they come second to a phone. Jimmy Rohampton, a Forbes contributor, wrote that a survey from the Pew Research Center showed that “18% of respondents between 18-29 also added that they previously had serious arguments over their partner’s obsession with spending time online.” Thus, intimacy suffers, emotions suffer, and communication suffer.
A breakdown in communication takes place when one partner would rather resolve an issue via text message than face to face. While it might be easier for that person to collect their thoughts by writing it out, the other person may feel disrespected because in the heat of the moment, they had to wait for a response to come later. No more are the days of sitting in the car having a conversation for hours. Now, there is a phone in everyone’s hand to fill the void of no communication. Social media has become a platform, in some respects, for people to air their dirty laundry, emotions, and feelings instead of talking to people face to face. Even more so, expressing everything on social media warrants people giving their opinion when they don’t know the whole story. Communication is a vital part of any relationship. Building communication should be at the forefront of every relationship. When there is one person not willing to work on communication, it negatively affects the forward progress of the relationship.
Social media has it set up that there is an option to direct message others or privately message someone. This feature has been known to break up relationships due to the capability of keeping secrets. If there are trust issues already present, having the option to private message someone can fuel the fire of infidelity and mistrust. When there is a breakdown in communication and someone is not being honest, relationships suffer. Extramarital affairs are started through social media, whether physical or emotional. People can live a double life on social media, which can lead to problems in the real-world relationship. Lies are being told to loved ones and continue until the day of reckoning. Trust is broken, lives are destroyed. It is a vicious cycle.
Unhealthy relationships can be formed due to over usage of social media. On one hand, you have one partner that feels neglected; on the other hand, you have a partner that may deal with loneliness or insecurities that cause them to look to social media for validation. Some people look at social media to answer the unasked questions about relationships. When people posts relationship goals, a different type of jealousy sets in. If a relationship doesn’t amount to what they see in a post, one partner might make the relationship unrealistic and awkward in their attempt to match what they saw. This action is unhealthy in that one will devote their energy into creating a Facebook worthy post than into creating memories with the one they love.
Social media is a great tool that can strengthen a relationship if used correctly and appropriately. Sharing a post that genuinely expresses love and emotion can build a relationship. Having the conversation about how much time is spent on social media and how to incorporate more quality time can be beneficial. Making sure that the lines of communication are open, honesty is taking place and face to face communication will help build a relationship. Using technology and social media to come together is not always a bad thing if there is a clear understanding of what is expected. Love is a beautiful thing and social media does not have to ruin that.
Chapman, Gary. The Heart of The Five Love Languages. Chicago: Northfield Publishing, 2007.
Matthews, Kylie. New York Post. 12 June 2017. 27 June 2017.
Rohampton, Jimmy. “Millenials, Here’s How Social Media Impacts Your Relationships.” 3 May 2017. http://www.forbes.com. 27 June 2017.