Social media adds new hurdle to having healthy relationships

Natan Shayevich & Gillian Redstone, Features Editor & Staff Writer

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The Spanish-American War, the manhunt for John Wilkes Booth and Kim Kardashian’s first marriage were all shorter than senior Danielle Sokol’s 501-day Snapchat streak with her boyfriend.

“Before we even started dating we started Snapchatting,” Sokol said. “This streak is longer than our relationship.”

According to Aaron Norton, assistant professor of family therapy at Texas Woman’s University, although the concept of romantic relations interwoven with social media seems normal to those raised in the digital age, the advent of social media has impacted relationships in ways, both good and bad, that researchers are just beginning to understand.

Norton said one of the positive impacts of social media on couples is that it can provide another outlet to connect through.

Junior Talya Carian said social media has brought her and her boyfriend closer together.

“On Instagram, we tag each other in funny videos and pictures we want the other one to see because we know they’re [going to] laugh,” Carian said.

According to Martin Graff, professor of psychology at the University of South Wales in the United Kingdom, one negative impact of social media is the possibility of surveillance, or finding out more information about a significant other through the internet, before a relationship begins.

“Before people get into relationships, people might meet, and once they’ve met they will go back [and] Google one another [to] see what the other person is like,” Graff said.

Norton said surveillance during a relationship can negatively affect how the person being surveilled views the relationship.

In a relationship, you need to be able to depend on your partner,” said Norton. “You need to be able to say, ‘If I’m in trouble, they’ll be there for me. If I need them, they’ll be there for me. If I’ve had a bad day, they’ll be there for me.’ And the research I’ve done on my own [has] shown that the more it feels like someone’s partner is being intrusive through surveillance, the less likely they are to feel like their partner actually responds to their needs.”

Senior Valerie Yuryk said she knows people who check their significant others’ social media pages continually.

“It shows that there’s not a whole lot of trust, so I think the fact that I don’t feel pressured to check [my boyfriend’s] social media a lot is a good sign of trust,” Yuryk said.

Yuryk also said the sharing of photos on social media outlets can be deceptive of what the relationship is like offline.

“There’s a difference between, ‘I’m really proud of this person or this cool thing happened,’ and, ‘Our relationship is held together because I want other people to see how cool it is,’” Yuryk said.

Norton said social media can help people connect with each other whenever and wherever they want, which can have either an uplifting or detrimental effect on relationships.

“Social media is kind of a double-edged sword,” said Norton.  “It all depends on how you use it.”

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Social media adds new hurdle to having healthy relationships