Certified Imago Therapist, Norene Gonsiewski, shared the destructive effect social media and texting can have on relationships.Text messages and social media sites like Facebook— so beloved for bringing people together — can also drive a wedge between couples. Social networking web sites have revolutionized the way people create and maintain relationships. However, new research shows that Facebook use could actually be damaging to users' romantic relationships. Individuals who use Facebook excessively are far more likely to experience Facebook-related conflict with their romantic partners, which then may cause consequences including emotional and physical cheating, breakup and divorce. This is especially true of relationships that are 3 years and less in length.
More and more therapists are hearing of the “deal-breaking” issues brought on by the convenience of text messaging. Couples increasingly blame affairs that began through texting a colleague, as the reason for their divorce.
So what is the problem with social media sites and texting?
Facebook: According to a survey by the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers, one in five divorces involve the social networking site Facebook. The sense of anonymity on social media sites makes it possible for people to flirt and act on romantic fantasies without thinking that they are putting their marriages at risk. Some users go on Facebook to create a fantasy life and escape the drudgery.
Many divorce cases revolve around social media users who get back in touch with old flames they hadn’t heard from in many years. There is nothing more seductive that the ‘one that got away’ fantasy that’s always better than your partner who wants you to help out more around the house, or who is upset and giving you the cold shoulder. It is easy for that fantasy to become something that the participants want to test out in real time.
Here’s a frightening statistic, a study at Lehigh University has found that people communicating online often fall for each other in about a week. That's two or three times as fast — on average — as those courting face-to-face. This is also the case with texting someone with whom you have some chemistry.
Even if you and your spouse never have an affair, social media sites compete for your attention. If your attention is going toward a screen, it is not going toward your partner. Couples have precious little time in the day to make their marriage the priority. Reading and posting on Facebook can suck up a lot of that time. This will lead to hurt feelings, reduce sexual connections and contribute to tension building.
Because texts and e-mails can be delivered privately, initially sending a message can feel innocent. It's a good feeling to have this constant attention poured upon you by someone that you get to text all the time. The rush of dopamine from the excitement and intrigue is so addictive, that people will sit next to their spouses and text flirtatious, sexual and intimate communications. This most frequently is found in office place emotional and sexual affairs.
Before the rise of texting most married people wouldn’t call a colleague at home just because they found them interesting and wanted to say “Hey how are you doing?” If the thought crossed your mind you would wonder what they would think or how their spouse would respond if they answered. Now people text one another about work, or back channel about a meeting. It is easy for personal and intimate communication to slip in.
Facebook and texting don’t break up a marriage, people do. But opportunity is a key predictor of infidelity, and social media has increased opportunity exponentially. When something reminds you of an old flame, you can reconnect in the few seconds it takes to type the person's name into Facebook. Social media doesn’t cause divorce, the loss of love causes divorce, but social media allows multiple opportunities for exiting the tension of the marriage, versus dealing with the issues.
Therapists' Tips: Keeping Marriages Facebook-Fight And Text-Affair Free
Limit Screen Time: Never check your texts, or Facebook, or emails when you are on a date or having conversational time with your partner. That’s right…never. It is a rude and bad habit and tells your partner that he or she isn’t interesting enough.
Know Each Other’s Passwords. If you and your spouse don't have a joint Facebook account, then share passwords to each other's account. This is not about suspicion; it's communication and transparency. This also goes for cell phone and email passwords.
Pay Honest Attention to Your Feelings. If you find yourself texting something you would not want your spouse to know, you are in danger of crossing a line. Don’t write any texts that you would feel uncomfortable for your partner to read. This goes for emails and Facebook posts. Do not text colleagues after hours about anything that can wait until tomorrow and do not mention anything personal.
When An Ex Resurfaces. If you get a "friend" request from an old flame, talk with your spouse about whether you should reply and how that will make your spouse feel.
Text Your Partner Regularly. Say sweet, suggestive and spicy words to the one with whom you have a commitment.
Deal With the Problems in Your Marriage. Stay current in dealing with marriage issues so that your bond is rock solid.