Whether you like it or not, social media plays a huge role in our lives – and it’s changing the dynamics of what it means to be in a relationship.

We spend so much time on it that it becomes a measure of how exciting our lives are, how good our food is, or how happy we are with our partners. Relationships are no longer just between the couple, but rather involve your entire social media network too.

Because of social media, relationships now are quite different from the days of our parents and grandparents – and it doesn’t look like we’ll be reverting to those ways anytime soon.

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A New Age of Dating

Before social media, people met each other in person. Nowadays, online dating sites are the norm, and it isn’t uncommon to meet a couple that met online.

Some online dating sites are geared towards older and more mature individuals looking to settle down. But then there are sites like Tinder which allow people to decide based on physical characteristics alone whether they’re interested in speaking to someone else. That means you’re putting your absolute best – and often edited – self on display rather than the more authentic version you’d likely be in meeting someone face to face.

Once you’re actually dating, trust plays a big part in a relationship – and Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram can really affect that trust. Social media can really add extra stress to your relationship, making you wonder things like, “Why did he like that picture of that girl?” “Who’s that random guy she’s with in that photo?” In the age before social media, you relied on phone calls and had to trust what your partner said.

When one or both of you don’t have social media, or barely use it, the time you spend together is spent focusing on each other. Going on a date, whether it’s a walk or a dinner, is spent actually looking at each other and speaking to each other, rather than taking multiple selfies and pictures of your food as you post and hashtag away.

Sure, it’s okay to take photos of one another or together in a special moment, but it shouldn’t be the main focus of your date.

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What if you Break Up?

Perhaps one of the biggest problems created by social media is how difficult it can make breakups.

You decide the relationship isn’t working out anymore – meaning you won’t be seeing each other anymore. At least, that is what it used to mean. Now when you go through a breakup, you have to deal with the pain of seeing your ex’s pictures, what they’re doing on the weekends, who they’re hanging out with – or even worse, having to see if they’ve moved on and met someone new. Even if you delete them or block them, there’s a good chance a picture of them might still pop up on a news feed because of a mutual friend.

There’s always the option of deleting social media for some time following a breakup, but then you might worry, “What will they think when they see I deleted Facebook?” It might even turn into a jealousy contest, “They posted a picture out, now I need to do the same to prove I’m doing fine.” These little things make the focus of your breakup what the other person is doing and thinking, rather than focusing on yourself and moving forward in a positive and healthy way.

Social Media Shouldn’t Determine the Strength of Your Relationship

Now, it’s not as easy as rewinding the clock back a decade and dating the way we used to. Times have changed and there’s no denying social media has a huge impact on the way we live.

When it comes to relationships, the most important thing is the trust and bond built between you and partner, and whether other people know about it is solely up to the two of you. But that doesn’t determine the status of your relationship.

Take the time to know each other by spending time paying attention to each other, not to the number of likes you have. Trust your partner and your instincts, rather than jumping to assumptions based on social media activity.

Perhaps deleting social media altogether might be too extreme for you, but taking a break during an hour together, or keeping certain parts of your relationship off of the newsfeed will make a big difference in how you see your relationship.

By Adela Czyzewska