11 Ways Social Media Is the Third Wheel

The multitude of social media platforms accessible via handheld devices affects relationships for better and for worse.  This social custom is too complex to solely label evil or utopic. I struggle to find a balance when it comes to my social media habits; perhaps you too, are in a love/hate relationship with social media. Our generation has created a new 'dating' and social pet peeve: The use of your cell phone in a social situation. I have compiled a brief list of some of the ways social media can turn a couple into a trio.

  1. Distraction. How many times have you found yourself sitting across from your significant other absorbed in the content on your phone? I often find myself more concerned with snapping the perfect photo of our delicious dessert to upload to Instagram or Snapchat. Social media holds our attention more than the individual paying for our meal
  2. Intimacy. What is there to possibly learn on a first date after perusing Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Vine, and any other public platform? How do you bring up a band you have in common with a new love interest if you aren’t yet friends on Facebook? This observation of a shared interest may create a great conversation or even better story. You may flatter your date by revealing your previous social media scan, or totally freak him or her out.
  3. Friending. You met a guy at a bar. You both seem interested, but who friends who first on Facebook? When is it socially acceptable to follow her on Instagram? Instead of over thinking this, we should swallow our pride, it’s just a button! If you’re interested, don’t be afraid to show it!
  4. Defriending. Social media allows breakups to be even more dramatic with the click of a button. Is there truly a way to remain friends after a breakup, especially after hitting unfollow?
  5. Flirting. Social media provides introverted individuals too shy to make his or her move in public the chance to flirt without the fear of rejection and potential public humiliation. Online flirting may include liking a selfie on Instagram or Facebook to drop subtle hints of interest.
  6. Stalking. Admit it, you have stalked your ex or your current beau’s ex on social media. If not, you’re a better person than me. Perhaps you’ve had one of your friends do the dirty work? That counts. Don’t be ashamed though, who hasn’t? It’s amazing how much information can be inferred from just one stalking session.
  7. Distance. I may have been a little pessimistic with my previous claims about social media’s influence on relationships. Social media can be used for good, allowing couples in long distance relationships to stay connected. Couples that study abroad heavily rely on social media to keep in touch with each other. An Instagram picture of a pastry in France or Facebook status of a scuba diving adventure can help couples feel connected despite distance.
  8. Arguments. New types of arguments arise from social media. Finding out that your boyfriend has liked another girl’s pictures or that your girlfriend is an old flame’s best friend on Snapchat can lead to insecurity and jealousy. I know I have taken part in my fair share of irrational fights thanks to my ability to overanalyze content found in the digital world.
  9. Cheating. Has cheating been redefined thanks to social media? Is it possible to cheat over social media? If your boyfriend likes or comments on another girl’s pictures, does that indicate shady business? These observations may lead to a breakup and further heartbreak as the felon is caught in an unfaithful act.
  10. Public. Your significant other has been tagged in another person’s picture. They seem awfully cozy. Maybe he or she has been sub-tweeting, and you think you’re the subject. Social media allows us to bring our lives to the public sphere. We can choose to have our each and every move documented for the world to see, including our partners. Having our lives shared in public can be as positive or destructive as we choose, so we must make wise decisions! 
  11. Spotlight. Social media makes us feel like celebrities. I can’t deny my excitement when a picture I posted on Instagram gets over 50 likes. On the other hand, being in the spotlight, and following the lives of others, takes away from my own happiness and feelings with my significant other. Can you relate? Does the sight of a picture capturing a couple’s romantic date ice skating at Rockefeller Center create feelings of insecurity about your intimate night on the couch? We shouldn’t let the posts of others dictate our feelings nor set a standard of the perfect couple.

If we allow ourselves to become engrossed in social media and the lives of others, our own happiness may be diminished. We may miss out on wonderful moments and create false feelings of inadequacy for no plausible reason. If used in moderation, social media can allow us to share our happiness, stay connected with loved ones, and even discover a new spark. We must embrace social media and permit ourselves to get closer to individuals of both current and potential status in our non-digital lives.