Tale as old as time: Boy meets girl. Boy falls for girl. Girl falls for boy. Boy and girl make their romantic relationship official. Boy and girl break up two months later because boy showed up in an Instagram post from a party he didn’t tell girl he was going to, girl jumped to conclusions and then boy posted a weird comment on one of girl’s Facebook pics from like, four years ago, which rubbed girl the wrong way. Ah, social media and modern romance!
Social media is an enormous, unpredictable and inextricable part of our lives, and has been for some time. Sites like Facebook, Instagram and Twitter bring us together, but they can also tear us apart. They impact all kinds of relationships, both positively and negatively, but can take a particularly hefty toll on romantic ones. Why is this?
Well, one 2013 study in The Journal of Social and Personal Relationships found women thought that going “Facebook official,” publicly stating you are in a relationship with another person on your Facebook profile, meant you were monogamous. Men, on the other hand, saw “Facebook official” as a much more casual declaration. These results almost feel cliché (men fear commitment, women pine for it), but it does demonstrate the ambiguity of social media terms we use regularly to define relationships.
Another study, from 2011, revealed many people become jealous or anxious while using social sites to check up on others’ social media accounts. Because these sites make it so easy to continuously keep tabs on partners (it’s called “following” after all), we often give in to the temptation to monitor their every move. This alone can cause anxiety (“What am I missing?”) and ignite feelings of jealousy (“Why is my partner hanging out with her and not me?”).