Do you ever feel like your partner spends more time on Facebook than in actual conversation with you? Perhaps you are in a long distance relationship and texting daily is your saving grace? As with anything there are both positive and negatives to the use of technology, and when it comes to relationships, research shows that it can cause consequences that both help and hurt couples.
According to a study by Paw Research Institute, 66 per cent of American adults actively use social media. There are some people who share accounts and email addresses, and others who maintain their own private use. So what works best in a healthy relationship? For many couples, they feel that technology has little to no effect on their relationship, but for others it can be a pivotal and important factor in what causes or breaks tension.
The Good: Nearly three quarters of the adults surveyed said technology had no impact on their couple relationship. A quarter text each other when they are both at home, and 21 per cent feel their use of technology brings them closer together. In fact, some couples even said the use of technology helped them to resolve conflict as it was difficult to do this face to face.
The Bad: It is so easy to get caught up behind our phone screens, and 25 per cent of the people surveyed said they felt neglected by their partner due to this. A smaller amount mentioned their use of technology had caused disagreements, and at 4 per cent, some people surveyed said they had become distressed when they discovered their partner’s activity online.
For younger couples, these positive and negative side effects were even more prevalent, showing that over the past decade technology has become an integral part of how we do life and conduct our relationships today.
So what does this mean for your relationship?
When you enter a relationship with someone, make sure you talk about your technology use. Obviously this will look different for various couples: if you met online or via a dating site, you probably use social media more than a person who has been in a long term relationship for over a decade. And your age, location and work will also determine how and when you use technology. That being said though there are still some key points to discuss in order to avoid causing tension, and instead use technology to draw you closer together.
1. Share your passwords with each other.
Letting your partner or spouse know your password is a great way to show that you trust them, and they can trust you in your online activity. 67 per cent of adults surveyed said they do this, and this is a handy way to keep your own independent account but remain accountable to each other.
2. Consider sharing an account
Clearly this strategy will not work for everyone, but if the presence of an individual profile is going to cause tension in your relationship, talk about setting up a shared Facebook profile, email address or even a calendar.
3. Set aside time for human interaction
If you are always caught behind a screen, make a night of the week your ‘date’ night. Go out for dinner and talk to each other, take a walk together or have a quiet night at home that is largely free of technology. Make a point to communicate with your partner without the use of technology to maintain a healthy relationship.
4. Talk about conflict in the open
Social media makes it easy for us to share our troubles and conflict with the world. Avoid doing this. While social media is public, there are parts of your relationship that need to remain private, so talk through your problems face to face. Put the phone down and honestly tell each other how you feel. You love your partner, so show them the respect of working through these things off screen.
5. Set your boundaries
Couples will use technology for different things. When it comes to your intimacy, it is essential that both of you are aware of what is acceptable and what is not. Will you participate in sexting? And how will you respond if you receive such a text or picture from another person outside your relationship? Will you put up porn blockers on your technology, or do you require your partner be honest about their use of pornography? Clarify these boundaries early, and make sure your intimacy is not solely based on the use of technology.