When it comes to relationships, social media can be a double-edged sword. On the one hand, it can help you stay connected with your partner and create more opportunities to support one another in important ways. However, spending too much time immersed in social media can cause you to neglect meaningful real-world interactions with one another. As such, it can open the door to hurt feelings, jealousy, and resentment—feelings that arise when expectations are left undefined and social media boundaries in your relationship are not properly set.
Read on to learn more about how social media can affect your relationships and how to navigate the setting of appropriate boundaries before problems occur. These tips can help you maintain a balanced connection with social media and a strong bond with your partner—whether you’ve been together for six months or sixteen years.
Don’t Allow Social Media to Ruin Your Relationship.
The average American spends three hours a day on social media. That’s a full one-quarter of your waking hours! When you think about that, it’s guaranteed that social media impacts your relationships in many ways.
Overuse of social media can quickly evolve into a major point of contention within a relationship. This is true whether you’re concerned about online affairs, dislike being watched or monitored, or just resent the amount of time your significant other devote to social media interaction. Social media exerts an influence on our relationships by affecting us as individuals.
Remember that your emotional and mental health are two essential elements that you bring to your relationship. So, make certain that you’re interacting with social media in ways that are positive and beneficial for your mental health—ways that enhance and fortify your state of mind rather than negatively affect it.
If not managed properly, social media can lead to a myriad of relationship issues. These include jealousy, unrealistic expectations of our partners, and distractions that adversely affect quality time. Take some time to sit down with your partner and discuss the ways in which social media has influenced you individually. This way, you can learn and discuss in what ways (and on what level) you would want it as a presence in your relationship.
Not sure where to start? Continue reading on for examples of what boundary setting around social media can look like. However, it’s important to remember that no one formula works for every couple. Your boundaries will depend on your personal emotional needs and past experiences. Be patient and kind with yourselves and with one another.
What are Healthy Social Media Boundaries in a Relationship? (Social Media Rules for Couples)
Don’t Employ Social Media as a Tool to Monitor Your Partner
Checking your partner’s social media entries to find their whereabouts may seem benign and totally harmless. And if they’re running late and not answering your texts, sometimes it’s the quickest way to locate someone. But continually using it to monitor your partner and track their movements can feel invasive, and similar to the actions of a stalker.
If you’re constantly checking up on your partner, it sends a signal that there’s a lack of trust. In a healthy relationship, you don’t need to know what the other person is doing every single minute of the day.
This can be a difficult boundary for couples who are recovering from infidelity or who have issues about betrayal in past relationships. Yet it’s important to recognize that without trust, there can be no relationship. Talk to each other about where your fear originates and set reasonable boundaries for your situation.
For instance, you can agree to communicate by text or phone call only regarding your whereabouts. Or you can delete the metadata and location tagging from your photos to eliminate temptation. As you talk it through together, ensure you’re listening to the other person’s emotional needs, fears, and concerns without compromising your own.
Set Time Limits for Using Social Media
One of the most common objections involving social media is that one or both partners are too frequently active on social media. Not having social media boundaries in your relationship reduces face-to-face interaction and quality one-on-one time. Yes, the dinner your partner made for you may be fabulous, but if you spend the entire time posting videos and still photos of the occasion on social media, then you’re missing the point—intimacy with your lover.
Setting time constraints for social media use can be problematic—you don’t want your partner to feel as though you’re trying to control them. Rather than setting an actual time limit for certain apps, it may be better to reserve times that are free from social media.
For example, when your partner comes home, spend the first hour totally free of social media while you reconnect. Or set a boundary where social media (or the phone in general) is unacceptable, such as at the dinner table or in the bedroom. Remember that the goal is to spend more time with one another where you’re fully present and available for intimacy.
Discuss Your Privacy Preferences
The discussion and boundary-setting process will look completely different for every unique couple. Your length of time together, your range of past experiences and your individual personalities will determine how you navigate this conversation. And remember those boundary conversations aren’t fixed and immutable. They should evolve over time.
For instance, if you’ve been together for six weeks, there should be no expectation that you would share passwords or allow each other to go through direct messages (DMs), etc. But if you’ve been together for ten years and have a history of infidelity, these may be valuable protocols when applied in a loving and compassionate manner.
You should never require complete access to another person’s private life. You wouldn’t demand that you be allowed to read your partner’s journal whenever you desired. We have an identical feelings about our social media accounts. But a boundary like, “If I feel uncomfortable and ask, will you show me your social media messages?” is a completely acceptable question.
Remember, the goal is to develop a depth of trust and an intuitive bond that makes checking each other’s social media entries the last thing you’d ever think about.
How to Compromise in a Relationship
As you engage in these discussions, you may find that you have very different ideas about appropriate social media boundaries relationship-wise. For instance, if one of you earns a living as an influencer, requesting that partner to limit themselves to one hour a day may not be a viable option. Or maybe you prefer no social media in the evening, but your partner would like their media-free quality time in the morning.
To find a compromise that works for both of you, make certain that you understand and address the emotional needs that underlie these requests. Boundaries shouldn’t be set arbitrarily. They exist for the purpose of protecting your emotional and mental well-being.
How to Feel More Confident in Your Relationship
Struggling to set social media boundaries in your relationship? Working with a trained professional can help you to peacefully mediate the conversation and keep the lines of communication open.
The Arkansas Relationship Counseling Center offers premarital counseling that can help you strengthen your relationship with your partner. Contact us to schedule a consultation today.