FACEBOOK May Affect Your Marriage

Facebook may not be a friend to your marriage.

A survey of 5,000 British divorce petitions filed in 2011 for “unreasonable behavior,” found 33 percent included the word “Facebook.”

Conducted by the Internet firm Divorce-Online, which bills itself as “the UK’s original and most trusted online divorce service,” the 2011 results represent a significant jump from 2009, when Divorce-Online found 20 percent of behavior petitions mentioned the world’s largest social network.

According to Divorce-Online, the three top reasons Facebook is cited in divorce petitions are:

  • “Inappropriate messages to the opposite sex.”
  • “Separated spouses posting nasty comments about each other.”
  • “Facebook friends reporting spouse’s behavior.”

And lest you think this is just an issue across the pond, it isn’t. The number of divorce cases using evidence culled from social networking is increasing in the United States, too. According to a 2010 survey of divorce attorneys by the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers (AAML), 81 percent of lawyers surveyed said they’d seen such an increase during the previous five years, with Facebook the most common network cited.

The network had 500 million users worldwide in July 2010, according to its own statistics; by the end of March this year that figure had ballooned to 901 million users. Meanwhile, a 2008 survey by the Pew Internet & American Life Project found that 22 percent of adults used Facebook to flirt. With 901 million users out there, that’s a lot of potential flirting opportunities.

If Facebook is all about sharing your life with others, one’s emotional health can be impacted by over-sharing. “I think social media right now really draws on people giving too much information,” says Scott Bea, Psy.D., a clinical psychologist at the Cleveland Clinic, “and until they experience the consequence of that, it may be hard for some people to really pull back.”

And it’s more than just flirting, Bea points out. When a relationship goes sour it’s all too easy to vent online, forgetting that even if you’re not face to face with the person you’re talking about, your comments can get back to her or him. “It’s hard for people, I think,” Dr. Bea says. “Our shame and humiliation now can be publicized. One statistic says 20 percent of people think it’s okay just to change your relationship status in order to breakup. So breakups may be occurring in kind of cold and callous ways, but they’re also very public and humiliating ways as well.”

For a taste of just how curdling the Facebook/love combination can be, surf to FacebookCheating.com, a blog founded in 2009 by Ken Savage after he discovered his wife was having an affair largely facilitated through Facebook. The site’s anonymous posts (with titles like “It Can Ruin You” and “Affair from High School”) paint a wrenching portrait of the intersection of social networking and heartbreak. Of course, FacebookCheating.com also has its own Facebook page — proof perhaps that social networking can help heal broken hearts in addition to causing them.

Published by

Dr. Gnap

Dr. Gnap is a family practice physician and behavioral medicine specialist in suburban Chicago.  Dr. Gnap developed the Inner Control™ Program in 1970 and has worked with thousands of people to improve and correct medical, emotional, behavioral and learning problems including performance.  He started the Inner Control program because so many patients asked, “what more can be done along with traditional treatment methods?”

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *