Portland Marriage Therapist: After Divorce, Skip Social Media

April 23, 2014 by

Social media has become so ubiquitous these days that for many people, the idea of going without it for an extended period of time probably sounds insane. However, when you’ve recently gone through a divorce, steering clear of social media might be the best thing you can do for your mental health.

While Facebook has been celebrated for allowing people to connect, a study from the University of Michigan found that the more people use Facebook, the more their life satisfaction decreases over time. Although the researchers did not name a concrete reason for this decline in happiness, it’s easy to see why this could happen. Facebook and other social media platforms allow users to choose what pictures, videos, and updates they share, and people try to present the best versions of themselves.

For someone who has just gone through a divorce, logging onto Facebook and seeing happy updates from friends who appear to have their lives together—on the surface—can lead to feelings of inadequacy. A recently divorced person might also feel pressured to put up a happy front on Facebook in order to fit the “everything’s fine” mold.

Another trap that recently divorced people often fall into is checking their ex’s social media profiles. This can stir up strong emotions and more feelings of inadequacy, especially if the ex appears to be doing well or has met someone new. Needless to say, it’s unhealthy to stalk an ex’s Facebook profile, but it can easily turn into an obsessive habit. It’s all too easy to click on an ex’s profile or “accidentally” read their status update in your News Feed.

What to Do Instead of Scrolling Through Facebook

The same researchers that found Facebook leads to decreased life satisfaction also tested for and discovered a solution: spend less time on Facebook. The study found that more in-person and phone interactions and less time on social media increased participants’ sense of life satisfaction. Especially in the wake of a divorce, taking a break from social media and getting back to other forms of communication can be beneficial. Here are a few things to try:

  • Make time to reconnect with friends who live in your town; make plans to get coffee, grab lunch, or do another activity that you both enjoy.
  • Get in touch with out-of-town friends and family by calling them. Set aside a time when both of you are free to talk and really catch up.
  • Spend some time away from screens. Take a walk, go for a bike ride, or go off the grid for a weekend camping trip. In our digital age, it’s good to be able to get away from technology.
  • Find activities to keep you busy. If you’re used to spending a certain amount of time on social media every day, find another activity to fill that time, like working through that list of books you’ve been meaning to read or learning a new skill.

If you’re near break up or have recently been through a divorce and are having a hard time, in part because of social media, schedule a session with a Portland marriage therapist. I frequently work with people who are attempting to navigate relationship issues and break-ups in our digital era, and I would be happy to offer my counseling services.