Facebook is one of the most popular social networking sites right now. Available in 37 languages and counting over 1,310,000,000 active users per month, it is statistically improbable to meet someone who doesn’t have a Facebook account.

Apart from the lengthy list of advantages Facebook comes with, it could also be the cause of many relationship breakdowns and marital separations. A new study reveals that people who excessively use Facebook are far more likely to experience Facebook-related conflict with their partners or spouses. Consequently, that leads to arguments, negative emotions and jealousy which could cause cheating, breakup or even divorce.

Don’t social networking sites come with a lot of benefits?

They certainly do; lots of them. We live in an era where online social networking sites have become a way of life rather than a recreational ‘hobby’ time. have made it possible for people to keep in touch with friends and family who live miles away. By sharing updates, photos and even videos family members and friends can always stay connected no matter where they live.

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They offer a unique opportunity to meet new people all around the globe that you wouldn’t be able to otherwise. They can also provide a very powerful toolkit for young people to highlight and focus on their interests. Moreover, they can be used as means of information on various subjects and areas and of organizing various events and activities worldwide. It provides the ability of group formation that can draw in subject specific audience.

Exchanging opinions and ideas, debating, showcasing a variety of issues, gaining knowledge on topics of interest and even gaining emotional support through a similar experience group are some of the amazing benefits of social networking sites and Facebook in particular.

How can intense Facebook exposure damage a relationship?

Previous research has shown that the more someone in a relationship uses Facebook, the more likely they are to monitor their partner’s activities. This can often lead to feelings jealousy and cause friction in the relationship.

Russell Clayton, a doctoral student in the University of Missouri School of Journalism, found that ‘These findings held only for couples who had been in relationships of three years or less. This suggests that Facebook may be a threat to relationships that are not fully matured. On the other hand, participants who have been in relationships for longer than three years may not use Facebook as often, or may have more matured relationships, and therefore Facebook use may not be a threat or concern.’

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Amy Muise, MSc, Emily Christofides, MSc, and Serge Desmarais, PhD, from the University of Guelph contacted another study on how excessive exposure to Facebook could potentially damage relationships.

They found that ‘The more time college students spend on Facebook, the more likely they are to feel jealous toward their romantic partners, leading to more time on Facebook searching for additional information that will further fuel their jealousy, in an escalating cycle that may become addictive’.

To add to that, spending enormous amounts of time on Facebook, chatting, tagging, liking, commenting and uploading while your partner is being absorbed by something else also fairly addictive, can’t be healthy for your relationship. As much as online social networking site connects people it equally alienates them from each other and puts a lot of pressure on intimate relationships.

If you are in a relationship that is just blossoming or one that hasn’t matured yet, decide carefully where you will prioritize your time. Choose to go on a romantic meal instead, spend time talking and getting to know each other, take part in joint activities you both like, or organize cosy romantic nights in.

‘Cutting back to moderate, healthy levels of Facebook usage could help reduce conflict, particularly for newer couples who are still learning about each other.’

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Psychologist, world citizen, mother - Effie is one half of the alwaysladies.com founding pair. She can bring to life any party with either a smile, or a strong opinion. If like us you can't get enough of Effie, visit her blog at www.thethinkingmomblog.com

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