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Dana Vince, M.A.Dana Vince, M.A., LPC, MHSP
A blog about mental and emotional health

Warning: Facebook May Be Hazardous to Your Relationship

Dana Vince, M.A., LPC, MHSP Updated: Oct 21st 2010

There are more than 400 million active users on Facebook. It has grown into a huge social networking site. While it is useful in that it gives you access to all your networks of friends and family and helps you stay in touch, there are some dangers to be aware of. In my practice, I have had a steadily increasing number of couples with complaints that Facebook has become an issue in their relationship. It doesn’t have to be, but if you are not careful, it can certainly wreak havoc.

add as friend buttonInfidelity happens at the place where vulnerability meets opportunity and a choice is made. Anyone can be vulnerable to an affair. It is a dangerous thing to think your relationship is affair-proof. Vulnerability can result from issues in the relationship: poor communication, disconnection, or lack of intimacy. Vulnerability can result from external circumstances such as grieving the death of a loved one, loss of a job, birth of a child, anything that causes undue stress. Vulnerability can result from personal issues such as lack of self-worth, fear of intimacy, or substance abuse.

Opportunity for an affair can come in different forms. It can come in the form of a friend, a co-worker, or friendly neighbor. In recent times, the Internet has broadened the depth of opportunity that is out there for an affair to occur.

Here is where Facebook becomes a threat. This is where people connect with ex-lovers, ex-flames, an ex-crush, or even with an old friend, and it might feel nostalgic to reminisce. This nostalgia can be mistaken for love interest. This may be innocent on the surface, but to the couple who is struggling, it becomes a great threat.

Here are some boundaries that may reduce the threat of Facebook on your relationship:

  • Be each other’s “Friend” so that nothing is hidden.
  • Do not connect with an old flame on Facebook unless you talk about it openly with your spouse and your spouse is comfortable with you doing so. But if you are having any difficulties in your relationship, avoid this at all costs.
  • Do not discuss any marital problems with people on Facebook. This is where the potential to share and relate opens the door to a deeper connection that threatens your relationship.
  • Make clear on your profile page that you are married or in a relationship.
  • If members of the opposite sex begin inappropriate sexual or flirtatious banter, put an end to it immediately and share it with your spouse.
  • Talk openly with one another with how you feel about certain types of friends on Facebook, and what each of your own personal boundaries are around its use. Be respectful of each other’s freedom of choice and privacy, but also respect each other’s boundaries on what is okay and not okay.
  • Be protective of your time as a couple. The other way that Facebook threatens a relationship is the amount of time spent chatting with friends, playing Farmville or Mafia Wars, or other addicting games that rob you and your partner of quality time. So put some limits around its use.

Facebook itself is not necessarily the issue, but it presents opportunities for connection that was not there before and something that may have started out as harmless fun can turn into something that breaks down trust in your relationship.

Facebook is not going anywhere any time soon. Online opportunities will continue to pose threats to the fidelity of your relationship. It is up to you to not let these outside influences inject themselves into the safety of your relationship.


Dana Vince, M.A., LPC, MHSP

I help people who love each other learn to get along with each other.

Your relationship with your spouse is the most important relationship you have. Yet it can be the most difficult to maintain. It’s a common question to ask why we hurt the ones we love the most. It’s because it’s where we are most vulnerable, and with vulnerability comes fear. In order for a relationship to be healthy, there must be a sense of emotional safety for both partners to be open enough with each other to feel connected and create a sense of deeper intimacy. Emotional safety requires compassion for one another, respect and emotional responsiveness to one another’s feelings and needs. It can be very difficult for couples to achieve this and reach the level of satisfaction in the relationship they desire.

In counseling couples, I focus on teaching how to communicate in ways that build a safe emotional environment, while allowing for authenticity that creates stronger intimacy and connection. The counseling process can not only help you overcome the challenges you are facing right now, but also give you the skills and understanding to manage any challenge that comes along in the future.

Call Dana Vince for a Free phone consultation. Daytime and Evening hours are available.

Reader Comments
Discuss this issue below or in our forums.

One problem with friending your mate: - - Sep 3rd 2012

While you may be friends with your mate on these sites your partner may be sending private messages to another person. Sending long romantic letters to them while you wish they would speak to you that way. Giving out their phone number and hiding calls and text from you. My man refuses to change his statis to "In a relationship" as he uses the fact that he is a "single father" to hit on women. He will be single soon enough!

privacy vs sharing - - Jan 11th 2011

Where does the line rest between privacy and respecting someone's freedom with who they are friends with when in a marriage?  My husband had many female friends, many of which I did not know and when I asked him to tell me about the females who he was friends with on facebook, he made me feel like I was invading his privacy and that I should just trust him and that I shouldn't have to ask him that.  But my thought has always been that when you are married and when it comes to members of the opposite sex, you should always automatically be upfront about what you do with these types of friends and be proactive in telling your spouse who they are upfront so there's total openness, so that you minimize the potential for misunderstandings or problems that could arise in the future.  To me, it was about trust, but it was about maintaining trust, not necessarily about not trusting him, whereas he felt that if you really trusted someone in a relationship, you shouldn't even have to ask them that.  He had several female friends on his facebook page who I did not know and had never met and they were from his work, so he sees them every day, and he ended up telling me a little bit about each of them, but I could tell that he resented it and he seemed very irritated about having to do that and made me feel like I was invading his privacy.

Ithink - Gabby - Oct 22nd 2010

I think YOU have issues... Real older people that LOVE each other do not act that way.... Maybe you KIDS do???? think about it.... real love is non exestent now.... thanks to people like you.....

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