8 Ways to Have a Relationship in the Digital Age Without Going Insane
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In the modern era, social media has changed the rules of relationships. The ease and access to technology has made it increasingly easy to reach out to attractive strangers, find your high school sweetheart or reconnect with a random one-off encounter - all with the click of a button.
Certainly, such interactions help kick start the dating game for singles by allowing people to interact openly and freely. But for those in relationships, meandering through this ever-changing digital medium can be challenging for even the most loyal, tech-savvy partner with temptation always on the horizon and relationship rules constantly tested and stretched by advances in technology.
What often starts off as a harmless flirtation online can soon fast track into a damaging, voyeuristic habit that fuels infidelity and breeds a lack of trust. In fact, research has shown that once people enter into exclusive, monogamous relationships, social media has a harmful and negative effect and can place romantic unions in jeopardy.
A University of Missouri study released this week, examining the impact of social media on relationships, found that Twitter users are far more likely than non-users to experience Twitter-related conflict with their romantic partners leading partners to cheat and break up. This coincides with previous studies that show a strong correlation between Facebook-related conflict and negative relationship outcomes as well as increased levels of jealousy amongst Facebook users in relationships.
Psychotherapist Sherrie Campbell, explained the trend to AlterNet: “Technology gives us more access to private information than we have ever had before. Back in the day, meeting people was more about knowing one person who might set you up with a friend - there weren’t many people involved in the process. Today, there is an expectation that people are talking to dozens of others at the same time on social media – social interactions have reached mammoth proportions. The more narcissistic you are, the more attention you need from others and the more you use social media. As a result, we now see more affairs that are emotional in nature because social media provides a platform for sneaky, attention-seeking behavior where a person can escape accountability, ” she said.
With such a plethora of digital distractions coming at us from all angles, here are 8 tips to ensure your relationship doesn’t fall victim to social media.
1. DON'T give personal information to strangers.
Unless you’re trying to establish a business relationship, it’s never a good idea to give away your personal information – and that extends to social media usernames and email addresses. Even if it's considered harmless flirtation, you are essentially establishing a personal relationship in a way that your partner does not have access to which ultimately can progress into a private relationship with another individual.
Dr. Campbell explains: “Unlike street encounters with strangers which begin and end then and there, social media allows us unfettered access to a person to contact them again in an intimate setting. In this regard, social media interactions go far beyond casual every-day flirtation that you may encounter on the street and consequently impinge on your principle relationship. Today, we know too much about others and get away with more stuff than ever before because we can delete inappropriate communication at the drop of a hat,” she said.
2. DO be considerate of who and what you “like” on social media.
Parties to relationships often get into conflict when one partner “likes” an image or status of someone else from the opposite sex. In this regard, the right way to act depends largely on the communication you have with your significant partner, but as a general rule of thumb: “liking” half nude pictures of the opposite sex is a big – and quite frankly obvious – no-no. Likewise, obvious flirting on public posts, pictures and profiles will only lead to unnecessary conflict. Ultimately, it is important to be considerate of your partner’s feelings and how your comments may come across to him/her as well as to others, like your partner’s mom, dad or even grandpa who you recently "friended." If it wouldn’t be appropriate to utter the words in person, then there’s a high chance it is unacceptable in writing.