Likely every person you meet, each potential relationship, will be involved with social media. As of 2013, 90% of adults ages 18-29 and 78% ages 30-49 use social networking sites on average 37 minutes a day (Pew Research Center’s Internet & America Life, December 27, 2013). That comes to about 19 hours every month or nearly 10 full days and nights per year. That’s a lot of pokes, likes, comments, and, worst of all, plenty of time spent browsing profiles that could affect your relationships. Avoiding potential conflict from social media involves becoming a more active participant in your actual relationship and understanding the following:
Assumption: Getting to know someone new involves sharing actual experiences. Social media profiles are designed to appear robust, but often lack the complete story. Real intimacy can only come from sharing, listening, and learning with someone in person.
Perception: The perception of your relationship is the combination of what is expressed on and off-line. Conflict occurs when these two do not match. A healthy relationship, a result of our usage of social media, needs to include a matching online relationship.
Obsession: Time apart, to miss each other and have personal lives, is important to a relationship. The ability to obsess and scrutinize someone from the comfort of your home allows for anonymous, yet often just as unhealthy, obsessing or even stalking.
Keep social media smart and safe; disconnect notifications, adjust privacy settings, and think twice before posting comments or photos that may come back to bite you. Communicate with your significant other, both to avoid misperceptions and making your partner feel the need to snoop. Remember that relationships are about people, not profiles, to avoid harming your current and potential relationships.
Benjamin Ritter, MBA, MPH, Author of The Essentials and co-founder of Suave Lover International and the Suave Lover podcast (subscribe on iTunes), is a freelance writer and a private relationship-and-social-dynamics coach in the areas of public health, fitness, and social dynamics, a writer and editor for Ask Men.com, and the interpersonal relationships columnist for examiner.com. His passion lies in guiding and providing tools to men for overall self-improvement.
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*Edited by Rachel Ritter