Has social media undermined your sense of security, trust, and connection with your mate? If that’s the case, you are not alone. Research studies abound that link Facebook to divorce, greater feelings of insecurity, narcissistic personality traits, and infidelity. Now that’s not to say that Facebook singlehandedly causes trouble, but relationships are hard enough; why leave the door open for possible problems? In my work as a marriage counselor, I have heard all kinds of stories about the trials and tribulations associated with a site meant to be a fun way to keep in touch with friends. Here’s my list of top 10 tips for making your relationship Facebook-proof.
Have a pow-wow with your mate about the rules of Facebook engagement. Find out where your partner stands on contact with exes, IMing, etc. A five-minute conversation can prevent a lot of heartache down the line.
Give your partner full access to roam around your profile if they so choose.
Sometimes, it’s harder to respect boundaries when you’re just typing. We tend to type things we wouldn’t necessarily say. If you have to hide or look over your shoulder in fear when you make a post or look at pics, that’s a sign that you’re doing something you know is wrong. Just make it a rule not to electronically engage in anything you wouldn’t physically do in front of your partner.
If you have a history of infidelity in your relationship, consider having a shared Facebook page in which both partners are represented equally in the profile. This creates a sense of unity and promotes a sense of we-ness, instead of me-ness in a relationship that is probably more vulnerable to external factors.
Lose the pictures of your exes. If you wouldn’t have a framed pic of them in your home, they have no place in your FB photo albums.
Spending too much time updating your Facebook page when you’re with your partner can fuel the fires of insecurity. When you’re together, put each other first and turn off the laptop or smartphone.
Be proud of your mate and make it official with your FB relationship status. If you ever need to change your status, discuss it with your partner FIRST before announcing it to the world.
Don’t post private pictures of you and/or your partner, or send extra-personal messages via FB. It’s important for a couple’s sense of solidarity to keep some things sacred and special between them.
Be selective about your FB friends. When adding a new friend, ask yourself if their intentions for making contact are honorable. Is this someone you believe fully supports you and your partner being together? Are they on friendly terms with your partner, or would they be if they met today? Is this someone who would potentially cause harm with something they post?
Talk about any feelings of insecurity or anger as soon as they come up. If something on FB makes you feel uncomfortable, sit down with your partner as soon as possible and have a calm, frank discussion. Try not to blame or attack them; just share how the situation makes you feel. Start with, “I feel scared when I read this,” or, “I would like it if you would…”. View the discussion as a game plan for preserving the relationship that you cherish so much.
At the end of the day, ask yourself what is more important to me, my Facebook page or my relationship? Do right by your partner and adhere to the Facebook rules you agree upon together. In this new world of social media, your relationship can not only survive, but thrive!
Until next time, keep talking, sharing, and dreaming together!
Shelley Rodriguez, MA
Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist/Licensed Professional Counselor