From cheating online to lamenting over a break up that has moved on — I hear about how Facebook has supposedly ruined their marriage or their dating relationship. But guess what? Facebook didn’t do anything.
The responsibility here lies on the people involved … not the technology.
Here are some quick tips for you to remember on how to keep your relationship offline and healthy. It all starts with boundaries.
1. Don’t fight. This is awkward. Really. When I see two friends go at each other, even if it is short sarcastic remarks, you can still get a sense that there is more to it than just joking. Not fighting on your Facebook page isn’t just about keeping others from feeling uncomfortable. That is secondary to the most important issue — that it isn’t fair fighting.
Fighting online may feel safer, but that is because you aren’t forced to look at each other or to be vulnerable. It is a way to avoid the intensity. Avoidance doesn’t resolve the issue. What I don’t see after my friends fight online is the fight that occurs at home and then the resolution to the fight. I am left wondering, “Are they getting along now?” “Should I say something?”
2. Nice pictures please. The risqué photos of your partner and the comments about how awesome she was in bed last night — another thing that nobody wants to see. Be aware of how you are portraying your relationship to the world. People can copy and save your pictures from Facebook with ease.
Do you want that picture shared with everyone, including your mother? Intimacy is an important part of any relationship. Having fun with your intimacy is also important. However, sharing the intimate details of your relationship has the opposite effect and can leave a lasting impression on others.
3. Watch your tagging. You know when you go to a party and tag who you are with? Respect if your partner wants to be tagged or not. We all have different values of privacy, so check with your partner and see if it is okay with them first.
Maybe you are dating but haven’t shared it to everyone yet. That’s cool, but don’t tag each other in everything you are doing if you want to keep it private.
4. Relationship Status Updates.
If you don’t want to be asked about your relationship, stop putting the status on your profile. You don’t even have to fill that out. I once saw a couple, married, break up and get back together and then go to “its complicated” several times over the course of a few months.
I asked one of the people about the status and their response was, “Oh I don’t want to talk about it.” Really? You don’t want to talk about it but you want everyone to see it? Sometimes people put this on their profile as a way to dig at their partner (see the above on not fighting).
5. Flirt offline. It can be fun to flirt on your partners’ profile, but don’t let it stop there! It is even more meaningful and lasting to have fun in person, to show love and affection, instead of just in the virtual world where you are safe and it is harder to feel rejected.
6. Password Protection. This is a choice, but consider having boundaries with your passwords. Depending on the level of commitment in your relationship, it may not be wise to share your password with your partner.
Technology security is important and often people use the same passwords for multiple accounts (not you right?) Giving your password out could be giving them access to your bank accounts and other information. If you are newly dating or on the rocks, reconsider how much access you want the person to have.
7. Have separate personal pages. You are your own person. I have seen couples share the same page and it communicates that this couple is stuck together like glue and they are surrendering their individuality. I have seen that the 1 page per couple comes from a controlling partner who doesn’t want their partner to have a separate account and then they believe that they have some sort of control over communication.
Heads up! Even if that was your great idea, your partner can still have a separate page and hide it from you. You may have many reasons for having one page, and if that works for you, great, but I would suggest that the majority of us should have our own pages, friend our partner, so they can see our page and leave it at that.
8. End it for good. If you break up and it is tough, unfriend and block your ex. Checking on them repeatedly will only add to your suffering. I heard a philosopher once say that if aliens were to come down and study humans by reading Facebook, they would be given a very distorted perception of reality. Remember this: when it comes to relationships, there is a beginning and an ending.
If you are going to end something in reality, end it virtually as well. For some couples that isn’t possible and I have seen divorced couples stay friends online because they have kids and want to share what is happening with their children when the other parent isn’t there. That is great! But, if that isn’t you, then set a boundary and limit how painful this has to be for you.