Our Affair with Facebook
Every time I do a post about social media it inevitably ends up being one of the more commented on and shared pieces. We all have a love/hate relationship with sites like Facebook and Instagram. On one hand we can connect with our friends/family/that funny kid from high school. We can also share stuff that makes us laugh, get inspired, feel like part of a community, or find others who like the same things we do. On the other hand, we often get bombarded with posts that make us feel angry or sad. We find ourselves getting envious of that one friend’s perfect life (How the hell is she in Tahiti AGAIN?!), AND we KNOW we spend too much time scrolling mindlessly through our feed.
But something most of us don’t take into account is how social media affects our relationships. I’m not talking about the time spent online (though that definitely can be an issue) . I’m talking about who we let into our partnership.
Here’s the thing, relationships are hard. Your partner is GOING to piss you off or make you cry. That’s a guarantee. And yes, we all need support in getting though challenging times. Sometimes we just need someone who can hug us and listen. And this is where it gets tricky. When we talk about our partner in an online setting. I often see people talking about their partner or their relationship difficulties in a closed social media group. They are hurting and need some hope/relief/guidance STAT. And I get it.
This is the problem- no matter how fair you think you’re being you can ONLY give your side of the story. It’s IMPOSSIBLE to describe your partners innermost feelings/ point of view/ fears/ family history/Etc. So the advice you’ll get (and you’ll get A LOT) at best probably won’t be that helpful. At worst it will be damaging to your relationship.
Don’t believe me? Recently we found out that emotions like anger can be contagious. So when we vent online to others, we often spread our anger to them which they then return to us. And it’s super easy to get caught up in the mob mentality. Here’s an example:
Person A: I can’t believe my husband did this last night, I’m SO ANGRY right now.
Person B: Oh my gosh, I’d be LIVID too. What a jerk. He sounds like he DEFINITLEY has issues, he needs to go to counseling.
See what I mean?
Person C: Yeah he sounds like a narcissist. My ex was a narcissist and he did this too.
Person A: Yeah, he DOES sound like a narcissist! I don’t even know if he will ever change.
The problem is that there are VERY few black and white situations when it comes to relationships and the more I work with couples the more this sinks in (violence and safety concerns fall into the black and white category). When we need support around our relationship we need to be EXTRA choosy about who we talk to. Preferably it’s someone who knows both you and your partner (so it’s not just some faceless monster they imagine when you talk to them about what’s happening). It’s someone whose decision making and thoughts you respect and admire. Someone who has the ability to be empathic and supportive without bombarding you with unhelpful advice. Make sure that when you talk about the problem, you’re not bashing your partner but requesting support with the situation.
We are all human, and we ALL need support, empathy, and a place to sort out our feelings. But if your aim is to make your relationship better ( instead of just adding more people to your side), make sure you are mindful of WHO you talk to and WHY.
Yasmine Binghalib is a Relationship Specialist and Licensed Marriage and Family therapist in private practice in Placerville, California. You can learn more about her and the services she offers by going to eldoradocountytherapy.com