By: Christine McClellan
In today’s world, almost everything goes on Facebook. All of a person’s friends and sometimes family are able to constantly keep updated on their life – whether it be little details of what they did that day, a new job they started, and even the status of their current romantic relationship.
It seems silly to go to the relationship section of your Facebook profile and click “single” the night you and your boyfriend broke up, but people do it all the time! Maybe to make the break-up seem more finalized, maybe to inform their friends all at once, or maybe just because it’s the new norm.
Facebook has changed romantic relationships, especially for teens who have never seen a relationship outside of the Internet realm. Has it changed for the better? For the worse? In Facebook relationship lingo, I’d say, “it’s complicated.”
I was in ninth grade when I first got my Facebook account, so, like many teens today, I’ve really never experienced a real relationship that hasn’t been showcased on my profile. When I think about this, a part of me feels pathetic, but I feel that this is going to just be the new norm for relationships. There are many ways that Facebook can help a couple’s relationship (i.e. it makes communication easier, seeing your significant other post about you boosts self-esteem), but there are just as many areas of critique in the new Internet era of romance.
The Green-Eyed Monster
It’s hard to talk about relationships on Facebook without talking about jealousy. Seeing every detail about your significant other, seeing every person they talk to, and constantly keeping tabs on what they are doing – this isn’t what a relationship should be about, however it is difficult to avoid. Couples can become nearly obsessed with checking up on one another online, and it often leads to arguments that really shouldn’t be taking place.
A recent study confirms that Facebook may be damaging to relationships solely because of the jealousy factor. In fact, a survey of divorce lawyers in 2012 showed that a third of the causes of divorce were related to Facebook. Of course, this is divorce and not a teenage relationship, but it’s not crazy to assume that Facebook has the exact same effect on any romantic relationship.
It’s important to talk to your teen about jealousy online. Encourage them to stop checking up on their partner online, even if it is just for a week. Chances are that they will then notice how much more trust they have gained for their partner just by not constantly knowing what they are up to.
Facebook makes communication easier. This has been well known for a while now, that it takes less confidence or thought to type something out rather than say it to a person. This can sometimes be helpful; especially for those who are shy and struggle for the courage to speak to people they don’t know. However, once peoples’ feelings get invested in the conversation, typing it out on Facebook chat may not be the best way to go.
Some teens meet their significant others and get asked out on Facebook, but the break-ups on Facebook are where the problem comes in. Breaking up is hard to do, and Facebook makes it painless. All a person has to do is send a message or update a status and the relationship is over – no real conversation needed. I’ve even heard of people just changing their relationship status to “single” without saying anything to their significant other about the decision.
Just like any other break-up, being on the receiving end is miserable. Being broken up with on Facebook, however, gives the relationship no closure. It’s important to end a relationship in person, out of respect for the other person, and to talk things through so that the relationship doesn’t end on such a sour note. Make sure your teen knows that breaking up is an in-person process – plain and simple. If your teen gets broken up with online, encourage them to delete the other person as a “friend,” as this may give them the closure they need. Although this gives them some closure, also encourage your teen to talk to their ex in person, as this is key to resolving any issues they may have had.
Living in the Public Eye
When you’re in a relationship on Facebook, everybody knows about it. Not that this is necessarily a bad thing, but it can lead to a potentially embarrassing break-up process. Once your relationship is over, each person has to go to their profile and change their relationship status to “single.” This then shows up on your timeline for the world to see. Of course, this can be deleted, but people are bound to find out eventually that your status no longer says “in a relationship.”
Sometimes, updating the status to “single” can bring on a stream of condolences – all your friends feel so bad and are there for you if you need them. This could be annoying, but at least you feel less alone. But at the same time, everybody at school the next day will know the break-up happened. Being so public all the time isn’t always the best idea – some things are better off being private.
Almost every teen is on Facebook, but their relationship doesn’t have to be. Facebook seems to harm romantic relationships more often than help them, so maybe it’s best if the relationship status starts to become outdated. Encourage your teen to be careful about how they interact with their significant other online, and let them know that relationships are always best in-person.