Is Facebook Ruining Your Relationship? The writing’s on your wall

posted by Dr. Sheri   | 0 Comment(s)

A note from Dr. Sheri: I’m honored to have been asked to contribute to this article by Bill Bradley of Prevention Magazine. It’s such an important topic in today’s Internet saturated world. I hope you enjoy it!

It’s getting complicated.

Over one third of divorce filings in 2011 contained the word “Facebook,” according to a recent report from Divorce Online, a legal services firm. And the overlap between Facebook and relationships doesn’t stop there: ABC News reported in May that children’s Facebook profiles, mined for evidence of poor parenting, are now often used in custody settlements. In fact, a survey of prominent divorce attorneys concludes that 81% of them report a spike in cases using Facebook and other social networks as evidence in divorce proceedings, according to the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers.

Divorce or breaking up is never fun, but it’s become even more heartbreaking and nasty now that there’s easily accessible evidence—and ongoing communication—via the Internet. Still, you can navigate it successfully no matter what kind of relationship you’re in, says Sheri Meyers, PsyD, an intimacy expert and author of Chatting or Cheating: How To Detect Infidelity, Rebuild Love and Affair-Proof Your Relationship.

Here, she offers a few tips for managing modern day love (and avoiding modern day war).

For when you start dating. Meyers stresses transparency. “It’s important to communicate early on what’s cool and what’s not cool to share. I believe it’s never too early to go, ‘OK is this cool to share on Facebook?’” Opening up right away will clear the road for better communication down the road, Meyers says. Plus, you’ll avoid any potential conflicts or hurt feelings caused by an unintentional social media overshare.

For when you get hitched. If you don’t include social media behavior in a prenup (which Meyers “highly recommends”), at least sit down and consider specific areas of concern. Take exes, for instance: Is it okay for him to stay friends with his college girlfriend? And do you want to share passwords with one another, or not? “If one is an open book, that should inspire trust,” Meyers says.

And it might sound ridiculous, but you two should also agree on how often you’ll be logged onto Facebook, Meyers says. “If you’re spending all your time on Facebook when you could be making love, that could be problematic,” she warns. “Facebook is part of our lives, but we have to learn to fit it in so it doesn’t disrupt our relationship.”

For when you’re splitting up. Take note: “Facebook is not a place to air your dirty laundry,” Meyers says. “A lot of couples use Facebook as a medium for revenge because they’re angry.” People in the midst of splits also tend to publish “elusive and hurtful” comments, Meyers says, such as “I’ve never been happier!” or “Finally free!” Avoid the urge to convey your newfound joy, she recommends. “That is so not appropriate. It hurts. You’re burning bridges that might be resurrected someday.”

So why this tendency to overshare online during tough times? The sense of community we can gain from social media carries weight, Meyers says. “The allure to do it on Facebook is to get other people commenting ‘Oh poor baby,’ or ‘I can so relate,'” she says. “You feel like there’s this community of attention. And though that feels very fulfilling, the price you pay is perhaps hurting in other ways.”

By Bill Bradley
This article originally appeared in Prevention Magazine

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