Social Media and Your Relationships: Caution Alert

Reading Time: 8 mins

Do social media and relationships work well together?

Facebook burst into our lives in 2004, followed by the likes of Twitter and Instagram.

Lately Facebook growth has slowed down, but the amount of time we spend glued to our screens hasn’t.

And for good reason too!

The rise of social media has allowed us to stay connected in ways we could never have imagined.

Millions of us use social media to stay in touch, plan events and form new relationships.

One of our favorite pastimes is filling our social feeds with pictures full of our ‘perfect’ lives.

But do social media and relationships work well together?, or is there a dark side that affects our relationships?

Let’s explore further and find out what the research says….

Our social feeds are akin to the 1960's peace and self-love movement showing how 'perfect' our lives are Click To Tweet

The green-eyed monster named jealousy

social media relationships and jealousy - section image 1

Let’s start with the most common and perhaps most ugly issue; jealousy.

You can be in the most stable marriage, but if a woman who looks like she stepped out of a perfume ad tags your husband, or if a double of Tom Hardy; insists on ‘liking’ pictures of your wife, those paranoia nerves can spiral.

Even with constant reassurance from your partner that they’re an old friend from school, it’s difficult to take a step back.

To add gasoline to the fire, social media can make keen detectives, i.e. ‘stalkers’ – of us all.

You can’t access your new rival’s profile.


So you borrow your partner’s laptop and log in as them. Next, you’re looking through their profile pictures, hoping to expose a secret relationship.

You don’t!

But before you know it, it’s 4 am.

You’re chomping down on pizza, scrolling through ancient pictures of them together, ready to throw out your spouse and blow your life savings on plastic surgery.

It’s a trap that can fool us all, and here’s the thing; once jealousy takes hold, it can spread in all directions, leaving you with a broken marriage.

Some might say social media can only affect ‘weak marriages,’. Maybe that’s the case in some situations. But if you’re even a little sensitive to jealousy, social media isn’t a friend of your relationship.

Not to mention, a lack of access and jealousy is a fatal mix. With only part of the picture, your over-active mind will fill the rest with your worst fears.

Worst of all, your rival’s photos will always show them at their best, which leads on to our next point.

Paranoia towards your partner can turn into jealousy with your over-active mind filling in the blanks Click To Tweet

The truth behind the ‘self-love’ social feeds

social media self-love relationships - section image 2

“You can’t love others if you don’t love yourself,”.

That’s because low self-esteem can cause many issues in a relationship: neediness, anger and resentment to name a few.

Scrolling through Instagram with the endless selfies; #loveyoself, #beyou and #blessed hashtags, you’d think we live in a world full of self-love.

But research suggests the opposite.

A study by Ethan Kross in 2013 looked at how Facebook influences happiness: how people feel moment-to-moment, and how satisfied they feel with their lives.

Researchers contacted 500 Facebook users 5 times per day for 2 weeks and found Facebook use reduced happiness on both levels.

The more people used Facebook at one time point, the worse they felt at the next. After two weeks participants reported feeling dissatisfied with their lives.

Yet, interacting with people away from social media didn’t have the same effect.

Another study carried out in 2013 assessed 5208 subjects to see if there was a link between Facebook use and well-being.

The study concluded:

‘Our results showed that overall, the use of Facebook was negatively associated with well-being,’.

To sum up, the research shows extreme use of social media can leave your relationship in ruin. It can cause anxiety, loneliness and even leave you trapped in a sexless marriage.

Scrolling through Instagram with the endless selfies you’d think we live in a world full of self-love Click To Tweet

Social media and your state of mind

facebook relationships and state of mind - section image 3

I’m sure most of you know an excess of anything, be it alcohol or social media is harmful to your health. But with social media you also need to consider the mindset behind your actions.

Are you sharing content with the expectation your friends will like, share and comment on it? If you are that is the wrong mindset and can leave you feeling resentful and envious of your friends.

Not only can this behavior ruin friendships, it isn’t good for your well-being. Sitting glued to your screen, refreshing your feed every 10 seconds to see who liked or commented on your post isn’t healthy.

In summary, finding the right balance and mindset is the key to enjoying the likes of Facebook and Instagram. Find the right balance with zero expectations and both you and your relationship can stay happy.

Sitting glued to your screen for hours, refreshing your feed every 10 seconds isn't healthy Click To Tweet

Rise of the marriage superheroes

social media ruins relationships - section image 4

You might feel content in your marriage until you notice your married friends sharing pictures of their luxury holiday, dining at fancy restaurants and posting videos of their synchronized gym sessions.

It’s tempting to think your own relationship is a dull failure compared to these ‘marriage superheroes’.

But don’t go sulking in a corner, just yet!

First thing to remember is, many of these couples stage, edit and filter their pictures. Some might even takes hours to perfect, so how much time are they spending together?

Also, consider that we display only the best aspects of our lives on social media.

How many pictures have you seen of your friends in nightwear, doing household chores, without styling or makeup?

So, instead of feeling miserable, remind yourself that routine marriage moments like dealing with bills and tidying up after children never make it onto our glossy screens.

Routine marriage moments like walking the dog and dealing with bills don't make it onto our social feeds Click To Tweet

Are we a nation of social media addicts?

social media addiction and relationships - section image 5

The impact of social media on our relationships is the subject of many studies.

One such study carried out by the Asst. Prof. Wilhelm Hofmann for the University of Chicago, Booth School of Business looked at desire control.

In this study, 205 adults were contacted 7 times a day for 7 days. At each point of contact, participants replied if they were experiencing or had experienced a desire within the last 30 minutes.

The type and strength of the desire was also recorded. In total there were 10,558 responses with 7,827 reports of desires. According to this study:

Social media is more addictive than alcohol and tobacco!

The study also found our desires for food, sleep and sex were stronger, but our resistance to social media is weaker than all these things.

Speaking to the Guardian, Asst. Prof. Wilhelm Hofmann explains why:

“Desires for media are harder to resist because of easy access and because it doesn’t ‘cost much’ to engage in these activities”.

The bad news for married couples is that this inability to resist is strongest right before bed.

Hoffman found that willpower was more likely to fail later in the day:

“The more people resist a desire, the less successful they will be at resisting further desires. Thus, as a day wears on, self-control efforts are more likely to fail.”

The bad news for married couples is that social media is more addictive than alcohol and tobacco Click To Tweet

How can you repel this social media invasion?

save your relationship from social media - section image 6

Whether it’s down to jealousy, self-esteem, or comparing our marriages to more ‘successful’ ones; it’s clear social media and relationships don’t always work well together.

If you find yourself reaching for your phone more often than your partner, it’s possible social media is to blame. Your marriage isn’t exempt either, social media can cause or worsen marriage problems.

But there are steps you can take to avoid these issues:

⦁ Classify your bedroom as a ‘phone-free zone’
⦁ Consider using a free social site blocker like StayFocusd
⦁ Choose one social media network and delete the rest
⦁ Delete social media app shortcuts from your home screen
⦁ Come to an agreement where friending exes is off-limits

It’s not all bad news though, social media and relationships can work if you find the right balance.

What is a healthy social media to relationship balance?

Well, if your partner calls you to bed and you spend an hour on Facebook before hopping in, your balance need work!

Spending hours glued to your phone means your social media to relationship balance is out of whack! Click To Tweet


There’s no denying social media plays a huge role in our daily lives.

For some it’s a way to keep in touch, for others a way to waste idle time, regardless of what we’re doing, our use of social media is ever increasing.

Most of us have no problem balancing social media with our relationships. The cracks only appear when life at home isn’t perfect.

Social media has this great ability to plant seeds of envy into our hearts and minds. Everyone’s lives seem so perfect, how can you possibly measure up?

You can’t, because there’s nothing to measure up to. Remember “All that glitters is not gold”.

On the other hand, social media addiction is real and can ruin relationships.

Addiction to social media can seem minor compared to vices like alcohol and gambling. The signs are not as easy to spot but left unchecked social media addiction can ‘steal’ a lot more than time.

All said and done balancing social media and relationships can be tricky but clear rules for acceptable social media behavior can help.

Establishing rules with the help of your partner like ‘not friending exes’ and ‘no phones in the bedroom’, are a great way to spend quality time together.

Come to an agreement where friending exes is off-limits and classify your bedroom as a phone-free zone Click To Tweet

Signing Off!

If you enjoyed reading this post, I’d be grateful if you could help it spread by sharing on Facebook or Twitter. Thank you!

Now it’s over to you.

Are you active on social media?, and has it affected your relationship?

Let me know in the comments below.


Happy Together is my free book that will better your marriage in 30 minutes or less. This book contains case studies of real marriages, and practical advice you can use today.

The 2018 edition of my 8-part email course, ‘Marriage Matters‘ is now live. This is a free 21 day course for couples who need a more intensive solution. Download the book below to get started.

Mary Holmes – As a former marriage counselor, I’ve helped over 250 couples rebuild their marriage.

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