Nicole Kidman recently revealed her secret to a happy relationship as she celebrated her 12th anniversary with husband Keith Urban: no texting.
That’s right, not one. They’re having none of it. The happy couple talk on the phone, FaceTime even, but don’t text and never have. “I feel like texting can be misrepresentative at times,” she said.
And she may be right, as research suggests that social media is having an adverse effect on our personal relationships. One study found that social networking users faced severe health risks as they reduced face-to-face contact and became addicted to a world of virtual relationships.
Nicole could be on to something. How many times have you read a text and then questioned what the sender meant, or asked a friend what they thought it meant? How may rows have you had with a partner because you’ve misinterpreted a message? It’s so much better to hear someone’s voice and catch what they mean, not just with words, but with their tone and body language too. Remember, 93% of our communication is non-verbal.
Solution: Phone more, text less.
2. THERE BUT NOT THERE
How many couples do you see in restaurants or bars, not actually talking to one another but constantly checking Facebook, Instagram and Snapchat instead; too busy posting pictures of the meal to enjoy the food; trying to look like they’re having a good time for the camera instead of simply enjoying the moment? Worse still, are you one of those couples? Social media actually distracts us from spending quality time together; we see evidence of that all around us every day.
Solution: Put it away! Agree to not use your phones at all whilst out together, whether that’s in a bar, a restaurant or somewhere else.
3. CONVERSATION KILLERS
Constantly checking up on your other half across all social media platforms not only has you coming across as a bit of a stalker, it means you’ve got no real need to ask them how their day went at the end of it, as you’ll have seen all their pictures and read all their posts. What are you going to do if you have nothing to talk about?
Solution: Take a day off here and there, don’t read anything they’ve posted and, simply, talk, ask them what they’ve been up to.
4. YOU CAN'T AVOID COMPARISON
Just because you’ve posted the perfect picture, it does not necessarily mean you have the perfect relationship. How many times have you looked at your friend’s posts, compared your relationship to theirs and found yours wanting? Next thing you know, you’re looking at your partner and wondering, “What’s the point?”
Solution: Stop it. Easier said than done, but stop comparing your relationship to someone else’s. Remember that what you’re looking at may be a carefully contrived work of fiction.
Yes, there is such as thing as too much information. We’re not just sharing; we’re over-sharing. Part of being in a relationship is having a special someone to share things with that you might not necessarily want others to know. Not only that but, over-sharing every little thing can cause your partner to feel compromised at best and betrayed at worst.
Solution: Put a filter on it. Censor what you post before you post it and keep some things strictly between yourselves.
6. FROM LIKE TO LOVE
Research in the UK and the US has found that one in seven divorces are the result of spouses engaging in questionable online behaviour. And it doesn’t take much: maybe an ex sends you a friend request, or your calendar reminds you of their birthday and you post a message. The next minute you’re chatting and then, not long after that, you’re having to explain exactly why you’re been chatting to them so much lately or, worse still, you’ve having an affair.
Solution: Ask yourself, would my other half be happy with me if I were talking to an ex in real life? If the answer is no, you know what to do.
So, is social media really wrecking my relationship, or is there more to it?
Social media is getting a lot of bad press these days and not unfairly. It’s increasingly becoming a major contributor to anxiety and depression. However, as with many things, it’s not what you’re using, but how you’re using it. Facebook et al. can be fun, harmless even, when surfed in moderation and used with caution. So enjoy it, but try restricting its use as much as possible - just like we restrict our children's use of phones, internet, video games etc., it's important for us too - don’t rely on it.
Give it a go and you’ll soon realise that both you (as an individual) and your relationship will be so much happier.