Does Social Media Make or Break Relationships?

With online dating no longer considered taboo and 65% of adults using social media sites in their daily lives, it was only a matter of time before Cupid hung up his wings and logged onto Facebook. Social media has completely changed how we approach our relationships, replacing roses and candles with tagged photos and flirty status comments. Saturated with instant messaging, Facebook and Twitter, have we begun to evolve past traditional relationships?While Aristotle believed love was composed of a single soul inhabiting two bodies, the romantics of 2012 would argue that real intimacy would be two souls inhabiting one conjoined Facebook account. It seems a ridiculous question to ask, and even the many still clutching onto their tattered copies of “Wuthering Heights” cannot deny the impact of social media on the ways we connect with others. Though it’s hard to imagine a time before the ring of the iPhone or the chime of the AIM message, couples survived for centuries on monthly letters, daily dinner chatter and long awaited visits. But since the rise of instant messaging, email, Facebook and Twitter, relationships are placed under unique stresses to keep a close eye on their partners’ media content.
The case of Social Media vs. Romantic Relationships can be argued in either direction. In the United States, 5.5 million individuals are using online dating services and at least 1 out of 3 Americans know someone who has met their significant other online.

Social media has not only become an acceptable way to meet people, but to many, a hope that true love is just a profile, screening process and statistical match away! For the long distance couples, social media has become a new way to stay in touch with one another while hundreds of miles away. A Skype date with candles, Facetime while both drinking wine, just-thinking-of-you texts, and flirty emails keep the flame alive from the sandy beaches of Newport to the humid streets of Washington, DC. For couples who have met online, their average courtship lasts 18.5 months before their trip down the aisle, as compared to the 42 months of courtship for couples who met offline. For many, social media has allowed them to similarly connect with others who are ready to settle down and start a family, weeding out one’s incompatible relationships and leaving them with a list of potential soul mates.

Yet, the over-communication can be a double-edged sword. While we love to tag photos and leave sweet comments, we can easily find ourselves overanalyzing check-ins with other people, old pictures of the Ex, and the motives of friend requests from the opposite sex. Against our better judgement, the factors of social media begin to threaten the stability of our relationships. Of the current 845 million Facebook users, 60% list themselves as in some sort of relationship.

It’s complicated, in a relationship, single, engaged, married — couples begin to feel the stress of putting their relationship on display for everyone to see. It’s making a declaration to your third cousin twice removed that you never talk to, your past hook-up buddies, and that random guy in the fifth row of your English class that you are tied down, taken off the market, the half of some other person’s whole. But as we over-connect, over-share, and over-commit, our relationships are no longer just between two people but available to and between the whole world.

Then my advice to you avid social media users: take the time to unplug. A relationship is not built in a Facebook message or a tweet. It is built through the time that you dedicate to one another. Now go pop some popcorn and watch your favorite movies, take a walk, plan an adventure and begin to build your relationships on shared moments rather than shared check-ins.

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