You wouldn’t keep a picture of you and your ex-partner framed on your bedside table for years after a break-up, so why would you keep it displayed on your Facebook profile?
In the media, Facebook has been dubbed the “relationship killer.” In response to the popular perception that Facebook causes conflict and jealousy in relationships, we conducted research to see if this perception could stand the test of science. We have now, in multiple studies, replicated the finding that spending time on Facebook contributes to jealousy in relationships.
So how do you stop FB from ruining your relationship?
Consider Who You Have As A Facebook “Friend.”
Jimmy Kimmel recently challenged us to think about the meaning of the word “friend,” saying that we keep many people on Facebook who are not really our friends. In our research we found that 80% of people have past romantic or sexual partners as friends on Facebook. Unless your exes are truly your friends (i.e., you see them non-romantically, they have met your new partner) consider removing them from your friends list. Interacting with past partners is one of the main triggers of jealousy.
Don’t Be Afraid To Delete Outdated Information And Pictures.
Things are never really deleted on Facebook, so you need to think about what you post in the first place, but don’t be afraid to delete pictures with past partners, information and friends that are no longer relevant to your life. After all, you wouldn’t keep a picture of you and your ex-partner framed on your bedside table for years after a break-up, why would you keep it displayed on your Facebook profile?
Know When To Stop ‘Creeping.’
Facebook makes it very easy to search for information. You can do so as often as you like, virtually undetected by your partner. In our research we have found a correlation between “creeping” and jealousy – you see a jealousy trigger on Facebook, this leads you to search for more information only exposing you to more potential jealousy triggers. Try to curb your creeping and stop this vicious cycle.
Talk About What’s On Facebook.
Instead of “creeping” and exposing yourself to information on Facebook that often has no context, ask your partner about Facebook postings that make you uncomfortable. The majority of jealousy triggers on Facebook are misinterpreted. We don’t like to admit to “creeping” our partners on Facebook but it can help to avoid misunderstandings and conflict.
Facebook Is “Real” … To A Point.
The majority of the friends we have on Facebook are people we have encountered offline. Facebook is not a separate online world; it overlaps a great deal with our offline lives. Researchers have found that information accessed online can be seen by mutual partners as a real threat to the relationship. Aim to resolve these issues just as you would for other “offline” issues.
Amy Muise is a sex and relationship researcher who is currently completing her PhD in social psychology at the University of Guelph. Her main research interests include sexuality in the context of relationships, and the relational effects of new media. Amy also teaches courses on social psychology and couple and family relationships. To learn more about Amy’s research visit