Social Media

The 24-Hour Day: Can We Reclaim the Time Invested in Virtual Relationships?

Maintaining virtual relationships is time-consuming. Time spent online cannot be reclaimed later to be spent with family. Extant research suggests that social media may be jeopardizing the primary romantic relationship. Individuals, irrespective of gender, consider some of their virtual ‘friends’ as romantic alternatives. Romantic alternatives are perceived as relationship insurance or a backup plan in case the current relationship fails or falters. The apparent innocuous interactions with ‘friends’ may not be a threat at first. However, when resources (emotions, time) are diverted away from the primary relationship and invested in an alternate relationship, interpersonal problems within the primary relationship may develop.

Hiding behind the screen, an individual could aggressively disclose information that he/she would not share with a stranger in a face-to-face situation. Emotionally charged messages could be reciprocated. Emotional affairs are considered equally harmful to the primary relationship as sexual affairs. Observing a spouse closing chat boxes or deleting history could cause the primary partner to suspect foul play.

Suspecting partners may spy and uncover jealousy-provoking material that could lead to an interpersonal conflict. Therefore, a domino effect could be prevented by consciously avoiding situations that are conducive to flirtation. We suggest that partners set boundaries around social media use and abide by them for a peaceful life.

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Dr. Abbasi founded mindfulrelation.com as a ‘go-to-website’ where couples can learn ways to avoid harmful online behaviors and improve the quality of their relationship. In her research, Dr. Abbasi examined how social media use is linked with romantic relationship problems, mental health, personality, and mood.
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