Social media use causes interpersonal conflicts and jealousy leading to a potential breakup. Social media offers a plethora of ‘friends’ whose availability is merely a click away. The simmering feelings of dissatisfaction with the primary romantic partner fuel interest in romantic alternatives. Instead of communicating with the partner and improving the relationship, some people may find respite in social media friends, which leads to interpersonal conflict and jealousy.
Jealousy and Conflict
Self-disclosure with online alternatives breeds reciprocity and emotional intimacy. When people’s emotional needs are met with online alternatives, they spend less time with their primary partner fueling conflicts. To avoid conflicts, some partners distance themselves from their primary partner and grow emotionally indifferent. Suspecting partners become jealous and monitor their partner’s social media accounts to protect their relationship. Monitoring partners’ social media accounts is linked with high interpersonal conflicts leading to a potential relationship breakup.
Ease of Social Media Tools
The problems stemming from social media use may be rooted in its tools that seamlessly connect people despite their busy routine. With minimal effort, individuals can stay in touch with online friends by sending an emoji, like, or a swipe. Rather than writing a preamble before sharing the developing feelings of love, a heart emoji breaks the ground for further cultivation. Recently, social media developers, couple counselors, and researchers have voiced their concern about social media abuse, which is causing conflicts and relationship breakups.
Social Media Research
A study based on 373 individuals in a romantic relationship (i.e., single or engaged) found that social media use is directly related with conflicts in a romantic relationship. Social media use was also positively related with jealousy and partner’s account monitoring. In this study, social media use was not linked with infidelity behaviors. Interestingly, jealousy, account monitoring, and infidelity were all independently related to interpersonal conflict in a romantic relationship. Social media use was related with conflict via jealousy and partner’s account monitoring. That is, jealousy and partner’s account monitoring acted as a mediator in the relationship between social media use and conflict. Social media use in and of itself did not predict infidelity, even though infidelity predicted conflicts. Therefore, infidelity behaviors partially mediated the relationship between social media use and relationship conflicts.
Bottom line: Jealous partners may be monitoring social media accounts. Avoid online distractions and spend time and effort to improve your primary relationship.
For Further Reading
Arikewuyo, A. O., Lasisi, T. T., Abdulbaqi, S. S., Omoloso, A. I., & Arikewuyo, H. O. (2020). Evaluating the use of social media in escalating conflicts in romantic relationships. Journal of Public Affairs, 2331. https:// doi.org/10.1002/pa.2331