Although it’s kind of like blaming cars for transporting people to affairs more easily, Facebook has again been named as a factor in one out of five divorces in the United States.
We first posted about this particular (and interestingly, exactly proportionate) figure of Facebook supposedly being cited in 20% of divorces after it was reported by a law firm back in December of 2009. Prior to that, there was commentary from divorce lawyers about Facebook being an “evidentiary goldmine” in digging up information on adultery and otherwise unsavory behavior, and the New York State Bar even stepped in with an opinion on the ethics of gathering evidence via social networking. (Mainly that publicly available information was acceptable evidence, but “friending” to access information for the purpose of building a case against someone was not considered ethical.)
It seems the 20% figure could bear out on a larger scale, and two additional sources have cited the figure in recent stories on Facebook and divorce. The American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers is one, and researchers at Loyola University Medical Center reported similar findings. Steven Kimmons, PhD, a licensed clinical psychologist at Loyola, explained that while Facebook isn’t necessarily the reason these marriages implode, the service often provides kindling to the flames of an otherwise distressed relationship:
“We’re coming across it more and more… One spouse connects online with someone they knew from high school. The person is emotionally available and they start communicating through Facebook. Within a short amount of time, the sharing of personal stories can lead to a deepened sense of intimacy, which in turn can point the couple in the direction of physical contact. I don’t think these people typically set out to have affairs. A lot of it is curiosity. They see an old friend or someone they dated and decide to say ‘hello’ and catch up on where that person is and how they’re doing.”
While it’s unlikely a relationship in perfect health would succumb to the temptation or distraction provided by Facebook or similar service, the sad part is that very few relationships are free from rough patches. While some couples could repair their marriages or otherwise weather bad spots, perhaps the ease with which a sympathetic and romantically-piqued ear could be found on sites like Facebook strongly diminishes the likelihood of that. Surely not the fault of Facebook, but worth mentioning nonetheless.
Have you seen the dynamic of a relationship change drastically due to the actions of one partner on social networks? Have you ended a relationship due to a significant other’s internet activities? Do you submit to a crushing fit of jealous rage when a person of the opposite sex comments on your spouse or boyfriend/girlfriend’s Facebook page?