With over half the American population using social media websites (Duggan), it would be naive to say that social media has not impacted our romantic relationships; but whether that impact has been positive or negative is up for debate.
In Medieval times, men adhered to the chivalric code of conduct when courting a lady. Clearly, throughout history our modes of pursuing a romantic interest have changed radically. The idea of courtship can be starkly contrasted with our current concept of dating. Today, when we want to pursue a partner, we are more likely to friend them on Facebook or like their Instagram than anything else.
This leads us to the question: have all ideals of a traditional relationship been thrown out the window with the introduction of social media websites?
Social media increases suspicion, mistrust and anxiety in a relationship. In fact, the Huffington Post claims: “Divorce attorneys say Facebook flirtations are frequently cited in their cases” (Bindley)
Social media also allows us to be selective in what other people know about our relationships, which invites us to portray a false representation of the “perfect relationship”. While a girl may be fighting with her BF, her Instagram paints a different picture as she posts a pic of him as her #ManCrushMonday.
Social media makes it possible to overshare: posting a picture to celebrate an anniversary takes away the privacy of the event and reduces what should be romantic and intimate to something that is artificial and impersonal. Two people should be comfortable enough with the status of their relationship that they don’t feel the compulsive need to prove how great it is to all 700 of their followers.
Thanks to the wealth of information that social media makes readily available to us, we are only a few clicks away from discovering practically everything there is to know about a potential partner. Most of us can admit to succumbing to the practice of “Facebook stalking” a possible candidate for a future relationship. But does this take away from the mystery and fun of dating someone new and finding out more about them as you get to know them gradually? This practice makes it all too easy to dismiss someone solely based off of their awkward profile picture from high school, or their unfortunate use of the hashtag “#yolo” in their last Instagram. Judging people based off their profiles, instead of their personalities, can prove to be a bad habit that could be keeping us from meeting our soulmates.
Now, it must be admitted that social media is not a purely evil construction set out to destroy all hopes of a romantic and healthy relationship. Social media also has ways of enhancing our relationships as well.
For example, people are often much bolder on social media than in real life. It is a lot easier to ask someone out over Facebook messenger than in person, where you might have to receive rejection face-to-face. Additionally, social media allows us to connect to thousands of people from our past, or people we may not usually have the opportunity to meet otherwise.
With all this in mind we must ask: Do the pros outweigh the cons? Social media is not going away any time soon. If anything, it is only becoming more prevalent. As we represent the future population of married adults, it is our duty to answer questions like these and decide for our generation if we are going to let social media be a handicap or a benefit to our romantic relationships.
Bindley, Katherine. “Facebook Relationship Problems: How Social Networking And Jealousy Affect Your Love Life.” The Huffington Post. TheHuffingtonPost.com, 20 Oct. 2011. Web. 29 Oct. 2015.
Duggan, Maeve, Cliff Lample, Nicole B. Ellison, Mary Madden, and Amanda Lenhart. “Social Media Update 2014.” Pew Research Center Internet Science Tech RSS. N.p., 09 Jan. 2015. Web. 29 Oct. 2015.