I know. You don't mean to snoop on your new relationship, life partner, or even a person of great sexual interest to you on Facebook. It just happens. Of course you may have mutual friends which means that lots of things "just come into your newsfeed". And how come your love interest just put a heart on that female mutual friend's status when you only got a “like”? And now you have become completely obessesd creating stories about a relationship that may or may not even mean anything?
Facebook can create relationship anxiety and put you completely over the edge. Are you watching to see if you get "liked" today by your special someone? What if he or she didn't “like” you at all today, but they “liked” other people. What's up with that?
Are they withholding their “likes”? You begin to wonder if the relationship is in trouble, or if the object of your desire has moved on. Are they mad? Have you gone mad? Yes, this does sound crazy and it might be. But these Facebook relationship dramas, anxiety and turmoil are happening everyday to bright and otherwise emotionally stable people.
What is it about Facebook that turns normally sane adults into a fifteen year old adolescence with a propensity toward being a private investigator? I really don't know—perhaps it's the availability of information and the anonymity of looking at it. No one knows that you are looking at each others “activity” if you don't comment or put a “like” on it. You can snoop, and create stories about what each others Facebook activity means. How come she is going to that party and I didn't get invited? What is up with him joining that group?
Sometimes, I spend entire sessions with clients working on their “Facebook” issues. No matter whether you think this is ridiculous or not—Facebook interactions have started to mean something to people. And Facebook users watch them like a hawk.
Facebook has become one of the easiest ways to stay in touch with people that we don't see everyday, and even people that we don't know but find their lives entertaining or inspiring. The best rule of thumb when using Facebook is don't do anything that you wouldn't want your partner to be able to see.
So if you write a comment under your old college girlfriend's picture that she is beautiful and that you miss her—and your partner sees it—Facebook jealousy may enter your life and even wreck your relationship. Even if you just meant that she looked beautiful and that you missed old times —and nothing more.
If you are one of those people who scream (and there are many) that "It's just Facebook!”, a 2009 study suggested that Facebook makes "unique contributions to the experience of jealousy in romantic relationships." There's even a Facebook page called "I wonder how many relationships Facebook ruins every year" with over 100,000 "Likes."
Facebook presents so many challenges to committed relationships that Jason and Kelli Krafsky wrote a book called Facebook and Your Marriage.
According to the Krafskys, trouble can brew from these key Facebook relationship pitfalls such as“Over Liking” or “Over Sharing”. Not everyone wants to see their relationship played out on Facebook.
Are you sharing too many private details of your relationship and is that making your partner uncomfortable? Or do you never reference the relationship at all? The same goes for changing your relationship status, friending or unfriending significant friends and family members. Talk about it first!
People flirt on Facebook all the time. Somehow Facebook allows people to get overly familiar and bold. And somehow that plays out differently in print then it does over a martini at a holiday party. Your partner may be able to handle you being a dazzler on New Year's Eve, but somehow seeing men or women court you—or you flirting back on Facebook can be a relationship trigger. Posting those sexy, flirty comments can be fun and meaningless—we are all sexual creatures—but on Facebook it can create a relationship fight that can take days to undo.
People in relationship seem to just worry over each others pages—comments, interactions, new friends, and likes can bring out the green eyed jealousy monster so frequently that it makes my head spin. Mistrust seems to bloom on Facebook between beloveds, and the most innocent of attentions can turn into a huge made up story about a secret romance that you are simply sure is happening.
So my best advice is to simply ask. If you are triggered by a Facebook interaction—why not simply ask about it? What did it mean that you changed your relationship status. My most favorite client upset was when a girlfriend changed her relationship status to “In an Open Relationship” and her boyfriend went crazy! What did he miss? I finally got him to ask her about it—and she said with a laugh “I'm in an open relationship with the world.” She was being funny and spiritual. Why think the worst and suffer? Ask.
And if seeing a lost love on Facebook flirt, and love another every day in your newstream is making you crazy, unfriend or block. People spend way too much time suffering over the public interaction of lost love in social media. You don't need to have your lost constantly stimulated by Facebook updates. It can make healing very hard.
I know that we don't want to seem like we're looking and we don't want to be regarded as jealous, crazy, immature, and frankly ridiculous. But Facebook does that to people. You are not alone.
And let's not throw the baby out with the bath water; Facebook can help you feel connected, cared about, and supported in a relationship too. Facebook can be a great tool of communicaiton.
That's why so many people are into it. They love the ease of staying connected and the sense of community. It's great for sharing information and easing loneliness too.
Just don't let it turn you into a "Tracker," and if you use Facebook—you know what I mean!
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