It shouldn’t come as too much of a surprise that social media impacts our relationships. Our social media networks have made it so that our relationships not only have to be kept up with in real time, but in the digital sphere as well. This is, of course, done through Facebook updates.
Our Internet/smartphone addiction has hindered our face-to-face communication not only with our friends but with our partners, which isn’t ideal since face-to-face communication is key to maintaining a healthy partnership. In fact, tech can cause a lot of stress in a relationship. According to the Pew Research Center, 25% of cell phone users in a marriage or partnership said that their partner was distracted by their smartphone while they were spending time together, whereas 8% had arguments over the amount of time their partner was spending online and with social media. Furthermore, 4% of Internet users in a committed relationship have gotten upset over something their partner was doing while online.
According to a Daily Mail article, unplugging and unfriending your significant other might be the key to a successful partnership. “I see technology and compatibility as one of the main subjects in therapy,” Ian Kerner, a New York-based psychotherapist who specializes in couples counseling, said to PRI.org. In addition, couples are having less face-to-face communication, and there is a tremendous amount of oversharing on social media. Although you need to know your significant other very well to be in a healthy partnership, there are some things that are best left to the imagination. Your partner doesn’t need to know what you’re doing and how you’re feeling every second of the day.
There’s a good reason to de-friend your significant other, and it has nothing to do with being rude or mean. In fact, Kerner conducted his own Facebook experiment with his wife, and has since deleted his account and has used his own experience to advise couples who are social media junkies: “I realized for a little while with my own wife that I didn’t really want her to be my friend on Facebook,” he told PRI.org. “I didn’t want all of that extra information. If anything I wanted less information — I wanted more mystery and more unpredictability. I didn’t want to know that she was posting about being tired or having her third coffee for the day. So I specifically unfriended her during my brief tenure on Facebook. It’s something that I do recommend to couples.”
Basically, if you’re interested in keeping your relationship in tact or increasing your chances of a long-term partnership, Kerner recommends unfriending that person. “There’s something about being in a relationship where you want some unknowingness and some unpredictability,” he says.
“The other thing I would say to couples is don’t use therapy for your chance to have a face-to-face conversation. Put the devices down. Studies have shown that even if there’s a device nearby, it can change the texture of a conversation,” he adds.
If you can’t imagine unfriending your partner, Kerner recommends a digital detox every now and then. It’s also important to plan for activities together sans cell phones. You can do it; Facebook doesn’t need to know.