Logging on to Facebook regularly comes with a few well-documented drawbacks, like seeing your Newsfeed filled with repetitive posts by annoying acquaintances, being followed around by creepily well-targeted ads, and constantly scrolling by obnoxious auto-playing videos. But if you aren’t careful about how you use the social network, your Facebook addiction can have a detrimental effect on your relationships with your partner.
As psychologist John Grohol tells The Huffington Post, it’s actually pretty common that a social network that makes it easy to connect with new and old friends can drive a wedge between couples. “Readily available communication on Facebook leads people to pursue temptation or engage in risky behaviors,” Grohol explains. “Facebook makes it easy to engage in less inhibited communication — which can lead to taking risks we wouldn’t ordinarily take in our everyday life.” Look out for these dangerous ways that Facebook can come between you and the people you love if you aren’t careful about what you post on the social network.
1. Conversing on Facebook instead of in real life can create tension
While it’s great to be able to chat with your significant via Messenger or post a cute photo to your spouse’s Timeline, relying too much on the posts and comments you share online — and the perfect image you project to your mutual friends on Facebook — can make it easy to ignore real issues in your relationship. Even worse, if there’s a big gap between the perfect relationship that your Facebook Timelines project and the actual state of your relationship, it can be tempting to gloss over the struggles and stop having meaningful discussions in real life. That’s a recipe for disaster. Instead of conducting most of your relationship via the viral videos and cute messages you share on Facebook, take the time to have real and sincere discussions. No relationship can succeed without real communication, no matter how perfect it looks online.
2. Posting petty details can further inflame arguments
One of the worst things you can do after an argument with your partner is to take to Facebook to post a passive-aggressive rant or an attention-seeking status. While it might be a good idea to take some time away from the argument to cool off, venting your frustration via a quick Facebook post is never a good idea. Instead, focus on resolving the argument before spilling any of the details online. Chances are, once the argument is over, the post you wanted to share will sound petty and unnecessary anyway. And you won’t risk posting something that’s sure to upset your significant other or friend.
3. Sharing things that others don’t want online is disrespectful
If your girlfriend or boyfriend is uncomfortable having lots of photos online or regularly posting details of your everyday lives together online, then do your best to respect that person’s wishes. Sharing a photo of the two of you (with permission, of course) is probably fine. But if your partner finds out that you’re constantly posting about where you’re going to dinner or sharing details of conversations you’ve had in the privacy of your home, he or she is likely to be uncomfortable. Not only are you sharing things that some people just don’t like to have in front of an audience, but you’re also signaling that you don’t respect your partner’s preferences and privacy.
4. Following others’ relationships can make yours feel inadequate
Whether it’s watching all of your college acquaintances get married in quick succession or seeing nothing but cheesy posts and smiling photos of your coupled-up friends, you’ve probably scrolled through Facebook and caught on to the fact that the social network makes it pretty easy to feel that the relationship you have with your significant other is somehow less. Before you get jealous and wonder why things aren’t going as well for you, it’s important to remember that people filter and curate their Facebook posts and profiles to project the best possible version of their lives. There’s likely a lot going on behind the scenes, and just because you don’t see it on Facebook doesn’t mean that you should assume the occasional argument or messy family situation doesn’t exist.
5. Talking to exes can drive a wedge between you and your partner
Facebook makes it extremely easy to communicate with just about anyone, whether it’s the friends you made in middle school or the first person you ever dated long-term. Whether you’ve had long-lasting relationships (and exes that you’d now consider friends) or if you’re divorced and remarried, it’s important to think about how the interactions you have on Facebook can affect the person that you love. If you’re constantly exchanging messages with the guy you used to date, then your current boyfriend may start to feel insecure about your commitment to him. The best thing you can do is to address the situation with your partner so that the two of you can draw some boundaries. That way, nobody’s feelings are going to get hurt by conversations happening behind closed doors.
6. Friend requests from exes can lead to affairs
As Grohol tells The Huffington Post, friend requests from exes can offer unnecessary opportunity for flirting, which can feel like a welcome change of pace when your relationship or marriage is stable and relatively predictable. But one questionable decision can lead to another, and Facebook makes it way too easy to fall back into old ways and start an affair with an ex. If you think that you’ll be tempted to see someone you previously dated again, just do yourself and your relationship a favor and resist the temptation to accept the friend request in the first place.
7. Scrolling through Facebook can distract you from your partner
If you’re glued to your smartphone scrolling through Facebook instead of talking to your partner, you’re making a common (and easy to fix) mistake. You may not even realize that you’re on Facebook so frequently, but it’s easy to be distracted by the endless supply of entertainment the social network offers. If you find yourself on your smartphone or computer instead of having substantive conversations with your partner, then you probably need to log out of the social network for a few hours.