Advice

Facebook Is Wonderful and Terrible for Your Relationship

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Facebook has been around for allllmost ten years. This means researchers have had plenty of time to study nearly a decade of FB data, and come to all sorts of conclusions (or at least, develop all sorts of theories) about the social networking site and its bad/good effects on your love life.

These studies are not completely undebunkable, by any stretch of the imagination. But if we were to take everything we’ve learned about relationships and Facebook at Face(book) value, what do we get?

First off, Facebook is apparently the most popular way to contact people for prospective dates — meaning that after meeting someone IRL, most would rather friend and message someone via Facebook to find out more/ask them out than by emailing, texting, or (worst of all) calling. Score 1 for Facebook!

Additionally, most people who either start a new relationship or end one are likely to change their Facebook status “immediately” rather than wait for their partner to change it, or give the relationship or break-up a little breathing space. Whatever your relationship status, you want the world to know, ASAP!

And speaking of wanting the world to know, couples who appear in lots of photos or posts together on Facebook tend to be happier. Which means that, yes, that girl from your World History class in high school really is as sickeningly in love with her boyfriend as she appears to be — or, at least she is on days that she posts updates about him. Couples are more likely to post about their relationship on days when their relationship is going particularly well, so those “I <3 my Husb” status updates really do indicate that Suzy loves her husband that day. BUT these love declarations don’t necessarily reveal the overall tenor of the relationship. Makes sense: Couples post pictures when they’re happy, therefore couples with a higher frequency of pictures together are happier. There also seems to be a correlation between the amount of romantic relationships you have and the amount of interests you list on your Facebook page: the more interests, the more relationships.

With this logic, one might think that the key to a happy relationship is to plaster yourself on Facebook every day. But wait, there’s a danger to that: Facebook can greatly increase your odds of experiencing jealousy within a relationship through close monitoring of your partner’s Facebook page, an abundance of information available to you (you see everything he or she posts, says, goes to), and the likelihood of misinterpreting that information. In fact, 10% of respondents to this survey admitted to struggling to limit the time they spend on their partner’s page. No wonder, then, that a 2011 study that states that “Facebook” is cited in 33% of divorce hearings. Yikes!

And, is if you weren’t getting enough pressure from your mother/society at large to settle down, Facebook’s also getting in on the pressure-game: the number of people listed as “Single” dramatically drops after the 20-30 age range, as more and more people list themselves as either “In a Relationship” or “Married” — or, perhaps fearing the scrutiny of Big Brother Facebook, don’t bother to list a relationship status at all.

Great, Facebook! You’ve made things interesting. Looking forward to the next ten years!