The Facebook Fallacy: Effects on Romantic Relationships


With the amount of monthly users on Facebook, specifically over 1.23 billion, it is clear that the site is one that many people use quite frequently. Whether it be to communicate with a distant friend or to simply be updated on the lives of other users, it is undeniable that the site has continued to be one of the most popular networking sites since co-founder Mark Zuckerberg opened it to the public in September of 2006. Now, it may seem like the nature of Facebook is simple, and that nobody’s relationship could possibly be affected by a social networking site. When viewing Facebook from a relationship standpoint, however, the openness of the site and lack of privacy that it provides both have the potential to cause relationship issues: not only online, but offline as well. So what is it about Facebook that is arising conflict in couples these days?

As shown by this tweet from Twitter user Camille Reyna, people often use Facebook as a way to make their relationship seem perfect. Facebook gives individuals the ability to publicly display relationship statuses, posts pictures, as well as the option to view other peoples’ pages. These Facebook features, although simple in their true form, can yield negative relationship consequences. Insecure couples utilize these features as a way to enhance their relationship appearance, which causes the general aspects of the site to lose their purpose as they are used more for popularity than as catalysts for communication. In other words, these couples become more focused on advertising their relationship and making it appear perfect than on the actual relationship itself. The desirable identity that people try to create is an attempt to make all aspects of their lives, including their romantic relationships, seem more satisfying than they actually are.

The following video demonstrates the idea that relationship satisfaction can be negatively impacted as people continue to use Facebook’s features as a way to publicize their relationship:

The people that feel a need for popularity, and as a result seek perfection in the online world, are more likely to feel jealous offline because they have a constant need to prove something to everybody. This fairy-tale facade leads these users down a bad relationship path as obsession with online appearance begins to take over their relationship, releasing The Green-Eyed Monster and allowing Facebook monitoring to begin; the action that people often deem as innocent, but can actually have major relationship consequences.

The following Public Service Announcement emphasizes these effects and explains the reason why a change in social media usage is necessary to prevent relationship demise:

Reinforcing this idea, a participant in a study released by Psychologists Amy Muise, Emily Christofides, and Serge Desmarais in the Cyberpsychology and Behavior Journal on the Undergraduate Student Use of Facebook stated:

Facebook makes people nosy…all of the personal information is totally unnecessary, but no one can help themselves. (443)

The important thing to realize is that Facebook is not as innocent as it may seem; at least the ways in which people use the site are not. The ability for people to monitor their partner’s behavior leads to an increase in relationship doubt, along with a sense of mistrust that would not exist if it were not for the openness of Facebook. The ambiguous scenes displayed on Facebook also lead to jealousy and other misconceptions due to the fact that interpretation depends on the individual.

The following interview with Psychologist Scott Bea, released from the Cleveland Clinic’s website in 2012, reveals some of the misconceptions that can occur from social media sites like Facebook, and the ways in which they can lead to relationship stress:

As a Facebook study conducted by Sonja Utz and Camiel Beukeboom in the Journal of Computer-Mediated Communication concluded:

There is a positive correlation between the amount of time that somebody in a relationship spends on Facebook and Facebook-induced jealousy. (512)

Knowing this, it is crucial to understand that the more frequently Facebook is used, particularly as a way to impress, the more likely the user is to become obsessed.

How can users prevent this? Simply use the site less.


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