Maybe you log into Facebook the moment your eyes open in the morning. Or perhaps you go through withdrawal when your smart phone dies and you can't log in to get status updates on your ex. If so, you could be addicted to Facebook… and it could be killing your relationships. The social networking site allows us to reconnect with long-lost friends, make new ones, and maybe even find "the one." With so many ways to communicate with others, one would imagine that this increase in connectivity would also increase relationship satisfaction. However, a recent Oxford study found that relationship satisfaction often decreases! Here are five steps that you can take to help prevent the virtual reality of Facebook from ruining your real world relationship.
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1. Stop pulling a Great Gatsby. You can't reclaim what has passed, and no matter how hard you try to be a boat beating against the current into the past, you aren't getting anywhere fast. Being able to constantly "stalk" your ex-lovers can be problematic. You might find yourself thinking of what could have been instead of what you have now. The picture or status your ex posted that you are obsessing over is really only, as psychiatrist Dr. Gail Saltz calls it, "the most flattering of moments" and gives you an impression that is not "based on authenticity." As painful as it might be, unfriend him and give yourself the distance to enjoy the real man in front of you.
2. Think before you post. Facebook enables communication, but as Dr. Saltz points out, "Without voice, context, body language and facial expression, a partner ends up deciphering meaning that is often simply incorrect." It's easy to misunderstand even a positive status someone posts, and posting negative comments about your guy can be even more complicated to decipher without the nuances of face-to-face communication. Sure, you're angry, but while you and your boyfriend might make up in a few hours, that status remains to your mutual embarrassment. Remember to think how you would feel if your guy posted a similar status, and keep in mind that private matters should stay just that - private.
3. Try not to make your phone your world. There is a difference between being plugged in and being compulsive. A recent New York Times opinion piece by CupidsPulse.com expert David Wygant called social media "a romance contraceptive," claiming that "it prevents romance from happening every single day." When you are always checking in on Facebook instead of checking out the hottie next to you, it could be stopping you from interacting in real life. Put your smart phone down and spend some quality time talking to the guy in your life now. Don't forget that relationships thrive on real, honest communication that allows you both to share your feelings and truly understand each other.
4. Avoid the "techno brush-off." Facebook makes it easier than ever to do what a Chapman University study calls the "techno brush-off," which means to end a relationship virtually. Nowadays, you can easily ditch your guy by changing your relationship status to "single" or just by unfriending him. Not only does this approach not take into consideration the feelings of your partner, but it also closes off any discussion about your problems. If it's the end, be courteous and break it off in person. Closure is an important part of healing.
5. You don't have to "Like" everything on Facebook. Sure, you can "Like" pages and join groups that you're interested in, but think about how your "Likes" are interpreted by the ones you love. Cosmopolitan points out that liking Facebook pages, such as "I Hate Men Who are Liars and Cheaters," can create unwanted gossip between friends and family. Of course, you hate men who are liars and cheaters, but Facebook isn't the forum to display these concerns. "Facebook is not meant for all or important communication," notes Dr. Saltz. Speak about your likes and dislikes, personal beliefs, and relationship concerns one-on-one with your partner. By having this conversation in reality, not virtual reality, you both can truly understand how the other person feels and avoid the gossip mill. As Dr. Saltz aptly puts it, "Relationships thrive best with optimal communication."
Lori Bizzoco is the Executive Editor of CupidsPulse.com, a first-of-its-kind website that takes the latest celebrity news and repackages it to help singles and couples navigate their love lives. She is a sought after relationship and entertainment expert who has been featured in The Wall Street Journal, Newsday, Chicago-Tribune, Working Mother, Woman's Day, Redbook, Parenting, and on Fox News, The Suze Orman Show, WebMD, Match.com, JDate, YourTango, and more. She's appeared in two books: 'No Excuses: 9 Ways Women Can Change How We Think about Power' by feminist icon Gloria Feldt and 'Cheat on Your Husband (With Your Husband)' by Andrea Syrtash. Today, CupidsPulse.com has more than one million unique visitors per month.