Social media makes, breaks relationships

The advent of social media has changed the dating landscape for many young couples — both in how they find love and in how they show it. The number of 18- to 24-year-olds who use online dating nearly tripled from 2013 to today, according to the Pew Research Center.

Social media has become an important factor in the lives of many young adults, and with the dominance of the digital age comes changing dynamics in relationships and dating culture for many.

According to the One Love Foundation, 45 percent of internet users between the age of 18 and 29 who were in serious relationships said that social media had influenced their relationship, while only 1 in 10 adults aged 65 and above said the same.

“One of the main reasons people use social media is to create connection and maintain relationships. There are ways to do this well and add to relationships, but there are also ways that it can be used which actually does the contrary,” clinical social worker Cecilia Briseno said.

Briseno said the misuse of social media leaves people feeling more isolated than connected.

Political science senior Andie Yancy said social media use among college-aged students can be very negative and toxic, and people let the fakeness of social media seep into their relationships.

“If you aren’t posting that you’re with them, like are you really with them?” Yancy said. “If you’re not Facebook official, well, you’re not really official.”

Yancy said she wouldn’t want social media affecting her relationship and would want to keep it private.

Yancy said retweeting something shady while having relationship issues opens up the floor for everyone to have an opinion on it.

According to the Pew Research Center, the count of 18- to 24-year-olds using online dating nearly tripled from 10 percent in 2013 to 27 percent in 2016. 

Briseno said the increasing use of social media for communication can create an illusion of intimacy.

“What happens is that instead of building true lasting relationships is that you are both left without the connection that comes from being face-to-face,” Briseno said.

Cynthia Manzano, clinical social worker for Counseling and Psychological Services, said that while social media could be supportive, it can be a source of stress used to hurt oneself or others and draw unhealthy comparisons.

Briseno said her main advice as a professional who works with couples is to be transparent with social media.

“Once you begin hiding accounts, friends, messages, that is a sure clue that you are headed down a destructive path,” Briseno said.

Mazano said maintaining healthy boundaries between social media and real life could have a positive effect on relationships.

Social media can be used to enhance your relationships by maintaining contact in fun and imaginative ways, Briseno said.

“At the end of the day, the person sitting in front of you is who you need to pay attention to, not the likes, not the retweets, not status updates,” Yancy said.


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