45 Studies show Increased Social Media use is linked to Stress in Modern Romantic Relationships

Recent studies indicate that consistent use of social media sites like Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram have become a major source of tension in 21st century relationships. It seems couples are more focused on appearing to be happily in love on their online profiles than actually enjoying one another's company. Scientists have been hard at work trying to understand why this is - and have found that the underlying causes are narcism and body image complexes.

Happier couples don't seek validation from others and therefore tend to post less online

You may have already heard that people who use social media less frequently tend to lead happier, more fulfilling lives  -- this seems to be the case with romantic relationships as well.

In this day and age, everything we do is shared with our digital audience. When considering how couples act online, there are several issues that can arise through continuous social media use. One problem can be that the couple exclusively posts perceivably "happy" images, creating a false sense of perfection. We tend to compare ourselves to others -- it's human nature, and when we are constantly exposed to images of blissful couples who appear perfectly content, it's understandable why some couples may feel the need to conform. Thus, when they receieve likes or comments showing others' approval about how perpetually "happy" they appear to be, this only validates the couple's facade, convincing them that they are truly satisfied.

Another, quite opposite issue is when couples decide to take their fights online by posting mean comments or embarrassing photos of one another. This is particularly hard to recover from, since their entire following is now unintentionally involved in their argument. Online feuds in general tend to be more heated, since both parties don't have to face the fear of in-person confrontation. In face-to-face fights, it's much harder to insult a person you care for, however, when feelings of anger arise and all one has to do is click a few buttons, "all hell breaks loose" and once it's posted there's no turning back.

Selfie posting in particular is becoming an issue for modern couples, since it can lead to fights about other's comments or the "appropriateness" of the photo. Tienne Mohs, who has been dating her boyfriend Alex for over a year briefly describes how her significant other negatively reacts to her Instagram posts:

Continuous selfie posting corresponds to unhappy relationships, vanity leads to selfish behavior

A study done by researchers at Florida State University found that the more selfies a person uploaded to Instagram, the better they tended to feel about their body image. They wanted to know how this related to romantic outcomes, and if selfies were a determining factor in a couple's happiness.

The researchers asked their 420 participants a series of questions, first about their body image (by asking them to rate their satisfaction with areas of their body and finding an average), and then about how Instagram played a role in their past romantic endeavors. The questions were along the lines of "How often do you have/had an argument with your current/former significant other as a result of the amount of feedback your selfie or your current/former partner's selfie gained on Instagram?" to which participants answered based on a scale of 1(Never) to 6(Always).

The results for both average body satisfaction and Instagram-related conflict showed a correlation between the number of selfies posted and overall body image satisfaction as well as "negative" romantic relationship outcomes such as break-ups or fights. Therefore, it was concluded that if an Instagram user is more satisfied with their body, they were more likely to experience conflict related to their Instagram posting habits in their romantic relationships.

So, it appears that staying off of social media may be the best option for keeping a modern relationship in tact.

Newlyweds are experiencing issues with narcism on social media due to wives' self-image

Not only does selfie posting on social media produce negative results in casual relationships, but also in that of newlyweds. A study done in 2016 followed 146 newlywed couples over their first four years of marriage -- and shockingly, found that when the wife displayed characteristics of narcism this led to "steeper declines in marital dissatisfaction," whereas the husband's narcissistic tendencies had little effect on the overall quality of marriage.

Could this be due to the increasing societal pressure on women to be "perfect"? It has been proven that women are more critical of themselves than men, and with the rise in popularity of the selfie on social media sites, it's no wonder that girlfriends and wives experience issues with narcissism.

Narcissists tends to be thought of as arrogant and self-loving, however, there is another category known as "vulnerable narcissists." These people tend toward self-hatred and obsess over what they can change and perfect to make themselves feel better. In relation to social media, a vulnerable narcissist would likely equate their self-worth to the number of "likes" they receive on a photo of themself. On the other hand, a classic narcissist would feed off of the "likes" and gain more confidence with each double-tap.

In either scenario, it seems that the increasing consumption of social media has led to body image complexes that are negatively affecting the relationships of this generation.

The take home message: log off and enjoy the physical world

So what do now that we know all of this? Should we ban selfies? There have been many studies displaying the negative effects of social media on our youth, however, I don't think it's time to wage all-out war on social networking sites. They are still new, and there's a lot left to learn about what they can do for us.

The takeaway from these studies should be as follows: limit your time in the online world and focus on the people around you, and more specifically, on making your real life relationship work. It may make you feel good to get those thumbs-up and likes but it's much more satisfying to spend time fostering true happiness with someone you love.

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