According to an Ofcom study from April 2014, 66% of adults state that they currently have at least one active social media profile, with services such as Facebook, Twitter and others proving useful for staying in touch with friends and family, playing games and more. However, studies have also been conducted that suggest there is a darker side to these social media services, with a number of sources linking sites such as Facebook with marital
unhappiness and divorce.
The results of a survey from Grant Thornton in 2013 stated that Facebook is cited as a factor in 11% of all divorce petitions, and research from Boston University in mid-2014 claimed that users of social media are 32% more likely to leave their spouse. The question is, why?
Previous studies into this have suggested that the rise of social media makes it increasingly easy for individuals to cheat on their partners, using a password-protected service where they can send and receive private messages and make contact with a range of different people. It also makes it easy for individuals to reconnect with ex-partners and to rekindle conversations which could, in theory, lead to even more serious levels of contact.
However, the link between social media and divorce may not be causal. Instead, it may simply be that those who are having difficulties in their relationship use sites such as Facebook to reach out to friends and family members for support: support that is available at all times of day or night, and is less likely to be spotted by their partner than telephone calls or face-to-face meetings.
For those who already find it difficult to trust their partner, social media services can also prove to be problematic. Those with issues of trust may notice the same names appearing again and again, liking their partner’s photos, messaging them regularly or leaving comments that could be interpreted as over-friendly or suggestive. While such occurrences may be completely innocent, they can lead to doubt in the mind of the other party, leading them to confront their partner and cause arguments that could have been avoided completely.
All relationships have their ups and downs, but when these are aired publicly via social media, problems can also arise – and lead to irreparable damage.
While social media undoubtedly has its benefits, it is also clear that it is a many-headed beast that must be used carefully.