Facebook is a great tool, but can also be a detriment to many relationships. (This will relate to all social media but, we’ll use Facebook as the example here). It’s true that there are over one.44 billion monthly active Facebook users (source: Facebook as of 4-22-15). It’s hard to get away. Seems like everyone is on Facebook (but, we all know a select few that will not log in or come close to getting on Facebook). Even though we all have varying degrees to which we use social media, there are a few lessons I’ve learned and observed over the years. (I’ll separate these lessons into three categories…. friendships, dating relationships and marriages).
How hard it is to not get sucked in to “Their life is better than mine?” With the pictures of other’s trips, relationships, activities, it can make you feel like less or that you’re not enough. If you were enough then why don’t you get all the party invites and take all the trips? It’s the equivalent to not getting invited to the all parties in high school, then having everyone talk about them Monday at school. The reality is, everyone is fighting his/her own battle. We all have our own bits of loneliness, unhappiness, struggles, etc. Another common phenomenon is FOMO (Fear of Missing Out). Some people don’t want to miss a single event, happening, announcement. They always want to be in the know. So, just like any other activity in which we choose to participate, it’s important to set boundaries. Telling yourself (and maybe set a timer) how long you’re going to be on Facebook is a great idea. And the ones you really want to know about, you put in your “close friends” so you can start there. Read what your favorite people are posting over everyone else. Remind yourself that your life is pretty fabulous and having that life show on Facebook doesn’t make it any more fabulous. Let go of all comparisons.
This is a tough one in so many ways. I’ll try to hit some of the biggie issues.
- At what point are you a “real couple?” Some people say it’s after you’re Facebook official and declare “in relationship.” The majority of relationships just don’t last (have you noticed that?) So if you declare that, and then you break up, you have to go back to “single.” Then everyone wants to know what happened? I’d suggest…. don’t claim “in relationship,” ever. Go from single to engaged or single to married. If you’re in relationship, all your family and friends will know it without Facebook nation having to know or affirm and comment.
- Now, what if you’re dating and a woman starts talking to your boyfriend on Facebook? First, there’s a simple “like” of a picture, then a comment and before you know it, private messaging. The pre-Facebook equivalent to this would be you’re at a party and another woman says to your boyfriend, “Hey, come over here so we can talk privately away from all these people,” (while your girlfriend is in the other room). In my opinion, it’s up to the boyfriend to draw a boundary and say, “Hey, I’m dating someone and don’t feel right talking to other females even if they are just friends. Maybe we will see you out and about soon?” The “other woman” (or man if reversed) should also not cross over that private message boundary. A good guideline is if you’re writing a message you wouldn’t mind your boy/girlfriend reading over your shoulder, it’s probably ok. In fact, maybe even show it to your boy/girlfriend in the interest of full disclosure.
- It’s important to remember this really isn’t a Facebook problem, it’s a human behavior problem. If your gut tells you it’s the wrong thing to be doing, it is. Facebook is just the tool people are using to blur the lines.
- Jealousy means there is no trust. It’s important to agree upon what and how much you and your boy/girlfriends want to post/tag/respond. It’s an easy conversation and compromise.
- Facebook secrets are also not a good idea if you’re in relationship. After all, being in relationship means you’re trying to build something special that might even end in marriage. So full transparency will always be important. Don’t try to secretly accept a friend request from an ex. If someone is all over your partner’s wall and seems to show a level of intimacy and humor with him/her that you’re not privy to, the fact that s/he has not talked about this person could be a sign that there’s really something to hide.
- A common question I get is, “Should I delete all my old boy/girlfriend’s pictures off Facebook? If so, how soon after?” My answer is when it feels right, do so. Some do it immediately because it was a bad break up or you’re angry or it’s a great way to get over the one who hurt you. If it was a nice break up and you ended as friends and you think, “Well this person was just part of my life and it brings me great memories” I’d say when you start dating someone else, it won’t feel right to you to have the previous person on there after a while. Yes, that person was part of your past, but, if your gut tells you that it’s not right to have so many posted for all your future boy/girlfriend’s family and friends to see, it isn’t. Maybe save them to a memory stick to keep for old times’ sake. Just take them off of Facebook. What if you flipped it around, would you like to see your boyfriend’s old girlfriend’s pictures on there? If not, then he probably won’t want to see yours?
- Do not be misled: “Bad company corrupts good character.” (1 Corinthians 15:33)
A lot of the same rules from the “dating” category above apply here: Transparency, no secrets, no private conversations your spouse can’t see.
- You’ve heard of some married couples sharing a Facebook page. That is a great idea! Then no secrets or private conversations can be had. If you’re not cool with that, then share passwords or have part of your evening be being on Facebook together- laughing and talking about your friends’ posts. (Facebook can be quite entertaining).
- A few signs that your partner is Facebook-cheating:
- S/he is often lost in thought within his/her texting conversations and never shares what s/he is discussing. Now we all have private conversations, but, if this happens frequently taking more time away from each other rather than being present with each other, then his/her attentions/priorities may be elsewhere.
- S/he gets texts at all hours of the day and even late night. I’m not talking about a child or a friend who really needs you at 911:00 p.m. but, if online conversations regularly make their way in to your bedroom late at night, then again, you’re secondfiddle to that other relationship.
- S/he is physically possessive of his phone/iPad. Again, if you’re trying to hide something, it’s usually something you don’t want your spouse/partner to see.
- He gets defensive about how much time he in on his phone. Why else would he get so riled up? When married or in a committed relationship, I say full rein on the other’s phone is appropriate. When I’m in relationship with someone, he has full rein of my phone. (I run a singles group, so it is very important for me to do that! He can look at my phone or Facebook at any time!)
- My favorite verse is 1 Corinthians 13: 4-7: “Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but, rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, and endures all things.” (Even Facebook)
These relationships are not limited to relationships with pre-existing problems. Facebook presents so many challenges to committed relationships that Jason and Kelli Krafsky wrote a book called, “Facebook and Your Marriage.” It’s a guide for married people who want to know the best ways to do Facebook and not put their marriage at risk. It’s full of answers, tips, and insights for how to use Facebook, protect your marriage, enhance your relationship and deal with the many issues and situations that can come on the world’s most popular online social network.
So, let Facebook be something fun you do together if you’re in relationship. If you’re not, don’t think the whole world is having more fun than you. You are enough just the way you are. Everything in moderation. Seek balance. We still need to remember who we are and build each other up and not tear each other down! Use Facebook for the greater good and not bad.
Galatians 5:19-26 — “Now the works of the flesh are evident: sexual immorality, impurity, sensuality, idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, fits of anger, rivalries, dissensions, divisions, envy, drunkenness, orgies, and things like these. I warn you, as I warned you before, that those who do such things will not inherit the kingdom of God. But, the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law.”