Scrolling, swiping, liking, retweeting, posting, sharing, and commenting. The average American spends roughly 11 hours every day interacting with screens and media, two hours of which are committed to social media sites like Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.
With more than five years committed to social media use, all that scrolling and swiping can have a powerful impact on our life and the people in it. Not only can it create feelings of anxiety and depression at the thought of "missing out," but experts further suggest social media can have a similar impact on dating and relationships. While social media can be a positive tool in communicating over longer distances, it may have "ruined dating" by digitizing the process of getting to know someone. Of the more than 980 people surveyed about the impact of social media on dating and relationships, 34 percent said they never made things "Facebook official" by changing their relationship status online, but 21 percent would consider breaking up with someone who refused to post content on their feed that included them.
In this study, we're going break down the gray space between the benefits of social media when dating and the discord it can cause. We asked men and women to describe their significant others' online behaviors that upset them, how far their actions caused them to go, and how social media made them feel insecure and confrontational. Read on to see what they had to say.
As much as you might be tied to your phone, your significant other is probably equally entrenched in keeping up with their social media feeds. If your usage is akin to the average man or woman, those two hours spent daily tied to your phone could put your digital life ahead of your relationships.
Time and commitment aren't the only ways social media could be driving a wedge between you and your significant other. Seventy-five percent of women and 61 percent of men said they'd be upset if their significant other "liked" sexual posts by other people online, and 56 percent of women and 48 percent of men would be upset if their partner kept pictures of their exes up on their accounts.
Women were typically more likely to be bothered by certain social media habits compared to men. Sixty percent of women would feel upset if their partner liked posts from social media models who were sexually explicit, followed by nearly as many who'd feel the same way about following those models. Similarly, more than 2 in 5 women would be upset if their significant other chose to stay friends with their exes online or commented on photos posted by social media models.
While men were often less bothered by these actions, 37 percent of men would be upset if their partner posted photos with other people; 34 percent of women said the same.
Gym Selfies and Relationships
Your love life isn't the only area influenced by social media. From #FITSPO to health and fitness influencers, your social media feed probably follows you into the gym as well. One study found 40 percent of users admit the information they find on social media affects the way they approach their health, and while some of that data can be contradictory, inspirational posts can have a positive impact on the way we think about and approach fitness.
Still, posting at the gym can sometimes cause a rift between partners. According to 371 people, 1 in 3 said their significant other dressed provocatively at the gym, and nearly 2 in 3 of those said their partner's activewear upset them. Sometimes, posting while at the gym can cause problems of its own. More than 1 in 4 people polled asked their significant other to take down photos they shared of themselves while working out. Of those, 19 percent said the images were provocative.
Those requests may be telling, though. People who asked their significant other to take down a social media post at the gym were more likely to have less trust in their partner overall.
Snooping on Significant Others
Considering the jealousy that can be triggered by social media, it's no wonder people sometimes go to extreme lengths to keep tabs on their significant others and their social habits. Often referred to as "lurking," the process of observing content without engaging can be innocent enough unless you're deliberately seeking out content without wanting anyone else to know you're doing it.
Most people are comfortable with lurking when they think their partner might be interested in someone else. Seventy-three percent of women and 63 percent of men admitted to exploring the social media pages of people they suspected their significant other might be attracted to. Nearly as popular, 70 percent of women and 58 percent of men kept a close eye on their significant other's photos to see who liked or commented on them.
We also found not everyone was content to simply lurk. Forty-three percent of women and 37 percent of men made it a point to like a comment on their significant other's post to notify the commenter.
More Followers, More Insecurities in Your Relationship?
There are plenty of tips and tricks for growing your followers online. Even without paying to grow your audience, being mindful about what you post, when you hit the share button, using the right hashtags, and engaging with people who enjoy your content are all fairly reliable ways to watch your follower count grow.
Of course, all that glitters isn't gold, and more followers might not be great for your relationship. When asked how secure they felt in their relationship, more followers typically had a negative impact on how comfortable respondents were with their partner's social media activity. Compared to people whose significant other had 430 followers and felt "very secure," people citing 820 Facebook followers identified feeling slightly insecure, and people whose partners had 1,182 followers, on average, identified feeling the worst – "very insecure."
Confronting Your S.O. Over Their Social Media Habits
Even though men and women were almost equally guilty of lurking and had similar feelings of jealousy (or insecurity) over certain social media actions, navigating confrontation can be tricky. What you're allowed to feel jealous over, when it's OK to say something about a partner's behavior, and when you might have crossed the line can all be unclear.
Women surveyed were often more willing to confront their significant others over what they saw happening online. Thirty-six percent of women and 27 percent of men called out their partner for posting an unflattering picture of them without permission, while 33 percent of women and 24 percent of men confronted their significant other about them reading messages without responding or leaving them on "read."
Sometimes, liking the wrong pictures can also land you in hot water. Roughly 1 in 4 women and 1 in 5 men confronted their significant other for liking other men and women's photos, followed by nearly as many who did the same over commenting on someone else's posts.
There's no denying how seriously some people take their social media presence, but experts say users can't ignore the emotional drain that comes with keeping up with social media. Because social media can be addictive, overuse has been linked to depression, a low sense of self-esteem, and decreased productivity.
Some people were concerned enough about their significant other's behavior to ask them to change their actions. Thirty-eight percent asked their significant other to remove specific photos from their social media feed, and roughly 1 in 4 asked them to unfollow someone who posted sexually suggestive photos.
Technology is changing the dating landscape, and social media is no exception. In the same way that dating apps have transformed the way people meet and communicate, social media is a key way people get to know one another and build trust in their relationships.
As we found, social media can sometimes do more harm than good, triggering feelings of insecurity and jealousy. People polled felt more insecure when their significant other had a higher count of social media followers, and a majority confessed to "lurking" on the accounts of people they suspected their partners might be attracted to.
We surveyed 984 Americans (504 women and 480 men) who self-reported that their most recent romantic relationship was current, or within the last five years, where both they and their partner were active on social media. Respondents' ages ranged from 18 to 81 with an average age of 36. Of those respondents, 371 reported their significant other worked out at the gym and posted photos to social media.
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