Facebook ruining your marriage is not necessarily news, in as much as a few times each year we read frightening new statistics about Facebook precipitating as many as one in five divorces. (This statistic about Facebook divorce began to pop up as early as 2009._
However, whether Facebook is ruining marriages or the marriages were already pre-ruined seems to be at eternal issue — and a new study looks into Facebook’s effect on relationships to determine how use of the social network is driving your lover away from you.
It probably stands to reason that in a healthy relationship, Facebook isn’t going to start any problems that haven’t already been started. But at the same time, the researchers maintain, Facebook has a way of undermining relationships in particular by causing feelings of jealousy or insecurity.
In the Facebook marriages and relationships study, Russell Clayton, a doctoral student in the University of Missouri School of Journalism, and colleagues looked at the specific effects of Facebook use (and frequency of Facebook use) on romantic entanglements.
Clayton explains that Facebook ruins relationships in part by prompting partners to become envious and suspicious of interactions with others outside the relationship — but he adds that the snooping partners may have cause for concern:
“Previous research has shown that the more a person in a romantic relationship uses Facebook, the more likely they are to monitor their partner’s Facebook activity more stringently, which can lead to feelings of jealousy … Facebook-induced jealousy may lead to arguments concerning past partners. Also, our study found that excessive Facebook users are more likely to connect or reconnect with other Facebook users, including previous partners, which may lead to emotional and physical cheating.”
Okay, so basically, Facebook makes us both paranoid bunny boilers as well as cheating louses. At least, in relationships of under three years, Clayton notes:
“These findings held only for couples who had been in relationships of three years or less … This suggests that Facebook may be a threat to relationships that are not fully matured. On the other hand, participants who have been in relationships for longer than three years may not use Facebook as often, or may have more matured relationships, and therefore Facebook use may not be a threat or concern.”
While some might say social media is here to stay and millennials need to learn to navigate Facebook without torpedoing their personal relationships, Clayton believes limiting Facebook can prevent Facebook relationship woes:
“Although Facebook is a great way to learn about someone, excessive Facebook use may be damaging to newer romantic relationships … Cutting back to moderate, healthy levels of Facebook usage could help reduce conflict, particularly for newer couples who are still learning about each other.”
Do you think Facebook is ruining relationships and marriages, or is it just another way for people to wind up in a fight?