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Is Social Media the Downfall of Romantic Relationships?

This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at Mizzou chapter.

Social media, what even is it? According to the Merriam-Webster Dictionary, it is “Forms of electronic communication (such as websites for social networking and microblogging) through which users create online communities to share information, ideas, personal messages, and other content (such as videos).” The growth of social media has exceeded its original intent, expanding to multiple apps, creating a surplus of companies and becoming the primary form of communication for many. 

Since its popularity, questions have risen on how this affects the ways people talk to each other. Romantic relationships, specifically, have felt the effects of social media due to changes in culture, as well as the introduction and normalization of dating apps.

When many think of social media, not all forms are really brought to their attention. If we are going with the Merriam-Webster Dictionary definition, then it encompasses apps such as Tinder and Snapchat. These apps have changed the game of dating for the foreseeable future. Spending time apart isn’t so bad when you have the ability to receive instant gratification through an app like Snapchat. As well as this, there is especially no need to live as close to your partner, right? 

I decided to create an open survey available for anyone to answer regarding inquiries relating to social media and romantic relationships. This survey had 141 responses with approximately 80% being in the age range of 18-20. The survey asked various questions on the topic of individuals’ own personal experiences with social media, as well as their opinions on social media as a whole. 

According to the responses, 62.1% of people do not believe that social media makes them feel closer to their significant other. Even though contact with someone can feel immediate and accessible most of the time, many feel that it does not make relationships feel close. This data was not inherently surprising as I feel the constant need for gratification.

Social Media and Long-Distance 

Long-distance relationships are a whole other story when it comes to social media. Nearly 25% of participants have been in a long-distance relationship where they had to solely rely on social media to keep in touch and up-to-date. Though this is not a majority, some had an interesting take on how this experience was for them.

One anonymous participant states, “It’s super hard, especially when you live far away and that’s your only way to communicate.” They continue by saying, “When they don’t get on their phone much, you wonder if they just don’t want to speak with you or talk with you, but it’s most likely because they are super busy throughout the day and don’t have the adequate time to devote to communication.”

This specific situation is not solely social media’s fault, but it does play a large role in the curiosity of prioritizing a partner while in a relationship. The anonymous responder made a solid point in emphasizing the self-doubt that can occur through this form of primary communication. Highlighting yet another aspect that relationships relying on social media may contribute to. 

Social Media and the Introduction of the “Talking Stage”

The talking stage is a critical step in many relationships today. For some, the “talking stage” is associated with texting, calling and maybe a few dates. But, for others, especially in this generation, the “talking stage” is a social media, Snapchat and direct message-oriented process where many don’t even have to go on a date and just end things right where they began. Online.

Snapchat has made it so easy to receive instant gratification from a partner of interest or just anyone at all. In the survey, 69% of individuals experienced a talking stage that has been strictly over social media. This means that a vast majority of people in the polls have had some sort of romantic communication with someone online or on a social media platform.

An anonymous source in the survey writes,”…I hate how our generation is so focused on a talking stage before going on a date with someone.” They continue saying, “If you wanna go on a date, go on a real-life date. You don’t have to Snapchat for a month-and-a-half before a first date.”

This has been a shared opinion discussed among many of my peers. Several are curious as to why no one asks to see the people anymore. The lack of face-to-face interactions has not put a stop to those seeking a talking stage through social media. 

Social Media and Stable Relationships 

Even long-term relationships can be affected by social media. The struggles of insecurity and questioning who is posting the other more, why someone is on a story and not on the main feed, or why someone is interacting with a specific person’s posts are all questions and concerns I have heard others encounter. 

According to the polls, 45.4% of people say that they have had an issue with a partner regarding social media. 20.6% of people say “kind of,” and 34% say they have not. That means that almost half of those who were surveyed have had some sort of quarrel or argument with their partner regarding the topic of social media. 

Though social media appears to have a negative effect on relationships, there are positive aspects or reasons that may not fall on the shoulders of the internet.

One survey participant states, “I feel like it’s not the social media fault when it comes to relationships.” They continue saying, “… If a significant other wants to cheat they will find a way with or without social media. I feel like there is this big dilemma that Snapchat ruins relationships but it really doesn’t because if that person truly loves that person they wouldn’t even think about doing something to hurt the other.”

This quote really stood out to me because it was referring to how social media can play a role in relationships, but it is not always the driving force to end certain relationships. If the couple does not truly care for each other, this could be a major cause of a split.

So, is social media really the downfall of romantic relationships? Personally, I think that there are both positive and negative of social media’s role in communication and relationships. Especially, those doing long-distance. But I do believe that it has created a less affectionate culture that seeks more instant gratification. This could possibly be the cause of what many call the downfall of “classic romance.” 

hi! i am a class of 2026 mizzou student, and am majoring in journalism and theatre - performance! some of my interests include reading, going to the gym, music (big swiftie), finding new coffee shops, and watching new movies! i joined her campus for a creative outlet to be able to write about topics i am passionate about!