Have you noticed that your love life has changed since the rise of social media channels like Facebook, Instagram and Snapchat? You’re not alone. In fact, the effects of social media are obvious on relationships and the way we date. Now it’s time to take a long, hard look at how it has impacted our courting habits, and you might realise that social media has been the third wheel in your romances all along.
It’s too easy
Meeting likeminded people has become effortless, for some, only a few taps away. We have long been in an age of normalised infidelity and promiscuity, which could be a result of the minimal effort needed when meeting someone online. Obviously, this has its benefits: it takes the pressure off, there are a limitless amount of potential dates online and if you don’t like chatting to them, all you have to do is hit ‘block’ – albeit a little harsh, it gets the job done.
The down side to this new easy dating culture is that we are moving towards a direction of laziness and complacency, like we are spoilt for choice (and the truth is, we actually are). We shop online, keep in touch online and even browse for our future spouses online. Can anyone else see the problem in this?! There is such thing as too many fish in the sea; and with the help of the Internet, the pond has become a whole lot bigger. When the internet is constantly introducing you to people, we start to care less about them – there will always be another fish.
Rejection via direct messaging is usually a lot easier to handle than face to face; just as it is easier to strike up a conversation with someone online. This is very appealing to those who may be more introverted or just looking to get out there. Rest assured, with every rejection, tinder will be ready and waiting with more people to match with.
Conversations may be scripted
Yes, we all like an avid texter, especially when we fancy them. But how do we really know the difference between fact and fiction? The dreaded triple dot gives a good indication of how long they’ve spent on a message. The thing is, overthinking a response always means it’s an unnatural one. It takes away the spontaneity of natural conversation that would usually flow when in person and can create a false sense of intimacy.
On the extreme end of the spectrum is the catfish phenomenon, a term used to describe people who put out a blatantly false persona of themselves online. It is abundantly easier to deceive someone over the internet, and there have been many examples of victims of catfishing, some of who have bravely shared their stories on the hit MTV show named after the transgression.
In the future, “will they-won’t they” relationships will become out-dated as meeting someone on a match website takes away the mystery of dating. The whole purpose of using dating websites is because you are ready to meet someone special. Whilst I am not condemning the use of these sites, it is unquestionably healthier to develop the relationship without the confines of the Internet, once established.
Let’s be honest, we all love a good and thorough Facebook stalk. The problem is that it encourages obsessive behaviour. It is now easier than ever to check up on your partner or even exes and crushes without them having a clue. Some seemingly trivial posts such as pictures with another person or too much liking/commenting on an individual’s profile can also cause tension in a relationship. A study by Kaspersky found that “social media impacts the relationships people have in the physical world”. We can now even see when our messages have been looked at, and consequently when we are being ignored, which inevitably will cause problems between partners.
My prediction is that envy in relationships will continue to heighten over time. As we post more intimate details on social media – we are subject to more of our other half’s actions online. Unnecessary arguments are frequenting because of social media jealousy. A prime example to prove my point occurs in most reality TV shows such as “TOWIE,” who often feature demised relationships due to social media scandal.
False aspirations and hopes of a relationship
The “relationship goals” trend sparked a whole host of posts about the idea of the “perfect relationship,” and has bred unhealthy expectations, particularly amongst young people. Such posts usually consist of loving couples that give the false impression that relationships are about only the good times and not the bad. It also gives the impression that there is a “one size fits all” type of bond that all should aspire to. In a study by Amy Tobin who used Millennials as subjects, it was admitted by one of the interviewees that they don’t “think the internet is ‘yet’ representative of human nature and relationships” and that “it’s easier to edit your behaviour online.” In reality, different people want different things from a relationship and that is a good thing, however this is not always reflected on the web.
Relatability between people
The internet has sparked an abundance of bloggers and articles, memes and vlogs, all with ordinary people talking about whatever they want. An unadulterated look at love and sex means that whatever weird and wonderful thing has happened to you – the chances are it’s happened to someone else already. This can give us confidence, especially in awkward teenage years, knowing that we are all “normal”. But who’s to say what’s normal anyway? I personally think this is a positive thing, and may encourage healthy unions between people.
The Instagram generation has spread a culture of self-loathing, particularly amongst young people. With filters and the typical flattering selfie angles, celebrities and generally “good-looking” people are the envy of everyone else as they document their privileged everyday lives. The bar for beauty is being raised every day and it is no secret that many of us feel pressured to keep up with today’s beauty standards. A study by the Kaspersky lab found that “People often experience negative emotions after spending time on social media due to a variety of reasons, and these overpower the positive effects of social media.” This parallels directly to the world of love, as it is not uncommon to have outlandish and unrealistic expectations of a partner and one self’s aesthetic image.
The years to come will encourage us to meet more people online and create lots of seemingly shallow acquaintances. While it is a great thing that we can use social media to meet likeminded people and develop new bonds that we may not have otherwise found, it is no secret that there are a lot of unhealthy habits being established from the over use of these sites. There have been many studies to illustrate the negative effect of social media on couples today, in the journal article, “Social network sites, marriage well-being and divorce,” it was found that “using SNS is negatively correlated with marriage quality and happiness, and positively correlated with experiencing a troubled relationship and thinking about divorce”. Have you ever seen a couple out to dinner with nothing to say to one another but are probably posting things on twitter as you watch? Although these networking sites are purposed to improve our social lives, sometimes it is best not to take what you see too seriously, go outside, put your phone on silent and enjoy the date.