How People Navigate Relationship Issues on the Web

November 29, 2011 by

Relationship issues change with the times, but perhaps never as fast as they have in recent years. Like it or not, we now live in an age where “private lives” is an oxymoron. The second anything happens to most of us, it’s been posted, tweeted, tagged, or blogged about – if not by us, then by a friend, or possibly even a random acquaintance. Social media has changed the way we look at what should be out there for public consumption and what should stay private. Nowhere is this more true than with our relationships with our significant others.

We update relationship statuses (good or bad) sometimes before we even tell people in real life. We post romantic messages for all the world to see. We make up (and sometimes break up) via social media. All of this made market research blog Lab42 start to wonder what our views are about relationships in general these days. To find out, they surveyed 500 social network users over 18 years of age on a variety of relationship issues and questions, and as a Portland relationship counselor, I thought some of the results were interesting.

A Look at Different Relationship Issues in the Relationship Status Update

33% of people said that they had broken up via text, email, or on Facebook, and even more – 40% – said that they would! Unfortunately, this is a trend that will likely only grow as more people become accustomed to using social media as a primary source of interaction, and it’s something we need to look at. Not because expressing ourselves through social media is inherently bad, but because in this case, it seems like a clear way to avoid conflict with our significant other – and that is not healthy.

In terms of changing their relationship status on sites like Facebook, people seemed to take more care (and time) updating the status for a new relationship than for a break up.  38% updated immediately for a new relationship, compared to 52% who updated immediately after a breakup. Looking at these together, both seem protective – the first of the new relationship (not wanting to go public with it until both parties are comfortable), and the second as a way to let everyone know without having to get too up close and personal with emotions that may still be raw and messy. Unfortunately, if the breakup was more one-sided, the changed status will merely serve as a painful reminder – and if one person updates before the other (which seems likely based on the results), you’re essentially outing your ex to the world.

A number of people also admitted to friending or doing online research in other ways on people they’d just met if they liked them, and almost a fourth said that they would use Facebook to ask people out on a first date – second only to asking them out in person. Despite all of this, however, a whopping 77% said they’d never used an online dating site because “people lie about who they are online.”

Technology is increasingly becoming an integral part of our relationships, and understanding its effect on your relationship and how to use it in a healthy way can be crucial to staying together. I encourage you to reach out to a Portland relationship counselor if you are having trouble navigating these new relationship issues.