Think back to dating in the pre-digital age. Gathering intelligence on a crush wasn’t as simple as typing the person’s name into the Google search bar. In order to get to know someone, you had to do it the old-fashioned way—face to face. Back then, snooping on a partner required a lot of legwork. Today, it requires little more than “finger work,” as scrolling through his or her Facebook feed can reveal a lot. And therein lies the problem with social media and relationships. Online spying makes it easier to get to know someone at first, but it can ultimately lead to more misunderstandings once you’ve coupled up.
What is love? Baby, don’t hurt me
Ironically, the platforms meant to bring us together are, in some cases, tearing us apart. Couples therapists have noted a spike in breakups and even divorces since the emergence of social media. Most people might think these separations are caused by blatant online indiscretions, but far more occur when one person’s love for posting is greater than the other’s. As if dating isn’t hard enough, couples must now meet a new criterion to thrive. They must have social media and relationship compatibility.
Relationship status: It’s complicated
Small issues can lead to big arguments. And the trigger for such disputes can be simple. For example, one person rarely reacting to the other’s posts. Or one person spotting an uptick in the number of likes his or her partner is giving to someone else. Or one person’s predilection for taking selfies versus the other’s desire to simply exist in the moment. It’s true, social media and relationships can make for strange bedfellows. Luckily, most issues can be resolved with open communication. First, consider the nature and frequency of a potential partner’s online behavior, then discuss it honestly. But most important, compromise and respect each others’ boundaries.
Minding your online manners
Move over Emily Post, a new kind of post has emerged—the social-media post—and it requires an updated set of etiquette rules. There is no shortage of internet tips for announcing unions, maintaining them, and consciously uncoupling. Glamour, for instance, gives a frank list of dos and don’ts for avoiding online drama. For better or worse, social media and relationships are intrinsically linked. But two people can post happily ever after together if they use a little common sense and have mutual empathy.
Just your type
For all of the heartbreak that can befall a couple whose social-media habits are out of sync, dating in the digital age has its bright sides. The introduction of dating apps, for example, makes it much easier to meet prospective partners. In fact, one article details the potential for Facebook to become the greatest matchmaker of them all. So, if you’re single, take heart: You may have dumped the last one after an online snooping session, but your next next one could be a few mouse clicks away.