Social Media and Your Relationship
I remember when I first met my husband waiting by the landline for him to call me when he said he would. The phone rang, and I deliberately let it ring three times so he wouldn’t think I had been sitting beside it waiting for him to call. How the world has changed, now we text each other on and off all day. It isn’t just smart phones; social media has made a huge impact on the way we connect, especially with how we find, form and maintain relationships.
Social media means that we live our lives very publicly. We share everything there is to know about ourselves, family events, pictures of our children, what we are eating for lunch and our relationship status. Even if we have our Facebook locked down for just friends to see, our lives can still become very public as we share our every move, and our partner does the same. Sometimes, depending upon our friendship, and our security settings, circle even ex’s can see what we have been doing. The problem is we get so caught up in the glamour of being online that we can forget that sometimes it isn’t so pleasant to have every aspect of our lives to be public knowledge.
All this sharing means there is less effort to check up on someone and less effort to get to know them. There is a phenomenon where the computer screen creates a barrier of security. We can find ourselves sharing far more than we intended about ourselves at the touch of a button. This can make us vulnerable to a potentially toxic partner or cause misunderstandings with our current partner as we check up on each other and are checked up on.
This Facebook Stalking blurs boundaries, and there is a term Facebook Jealousy that can rear its ugly head when you see photos of your partner with his ex, or comments from attractive people, or even the way your partner presents himself on Facebook that can cause these feelings to emerge. Sometimes relationship breakups and arguments can be very public where people forget the long term ramifications of posting how they feel about their partner without realising the long term repercussions. Boundaries can also be eroded if your partner decides to stay in contact with his previous partners, or friends who pursue him and flirt.
So how do you protect your relationship from online dramas?
You need to decide what is and is not Ok for you in the social media environment and have a conversation with your partner about what you feel your boundaries should be when using social media.
- Talk to your partner about how you have been using social media and whether there have been any platforms, pages, or groups that have caused issues or that either of you don’t feel comfortable with. Discuss what your social media boundaries should be and make the clear between you, so you know what to expect from each other.
- Talk to your partner about your feelings around whether he should be talking to ex-girlfriends. If he wants to maintain these friendships you run the risk of him being resentful of you if you demand that he ceases all contact. However, you need to ask him to respect your wishes. Most importantly you need to insist that there is transparency in his friendships with these previous partners. If he insists that their conversations are private and wants to meet them away from public places and conceals his whereabouts this should be a cause for your concern.
- Make an agreement that you will not take an argument with your partner out onto social media. When you post about your issues online, you invite everyone’s opinion, and it can cause huge amounts of embarrassment for everyone concerned. Call your boundaries about defining the private space that is just between the two of you. It is so easy for text messages to be taken out of context, and misunderstood, try to make the commitment that you will only discuss differences in person.
- Choose social media friends carefully, always have in the back of your mind, would my partner be ok with me friending this person. Part of being in a relationship is operating as if you are part of a unit and not as an individual.
- Be mindful that computer chat is a powerful thing, and before we know it, we can find ourselves divulging intimate details about ourselves to people we hardly know. Of course, you can have platonic relationships with online friends, just be careful you don’t divulge secrets about your relationship. Be mindful that not everyone has the same sense of confidentiality that you do.
The best way to manage social media is to be open and honest with your partner and set fair and reasonable boundaries between the two of you. The more clarity you can have in your relationship the less likely you will be confused about what the rules of your commitment are. When you are clear in your own mind about what you think is fair and reasonable it makes it easier to stay in your integrity and know whether your partner is indeed your prince charming or a horrible nasty toxic toad.
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