CNN.com released a story yesterday projecting that it is Easier to Mess Up Love Life On Social Networks. Well, duh. According to the story, about a third of the adult population in the U.S. has a profile on a social networking site such as Facebook and MySpace. The story goes on to speculate that with the ease of tracking past friends and acquaintances, many users seek out past lovers and old flames to friend. By the way, the word ‘friend’ has now morphed into a verb meaning to link two profiles via a friend request invitation and acceptance.
The timing of that article couldn’t be more coincidental. I wrote this article about the etiquette of tagging photos on social networks such as Facebook. That article asks if it is appropriate to tag a married friend in a past photo of that friend and an old flame. The answer is: it depends. There should be open communication about what is acceptable to the married friend and that friend’s wishes should be respected. That post was inspired by real events. There was open communication and the situation was resolved. No hard feelings, no disrespect. The more our past and present lives converge on social networking websites, however, the more there seems to be a need for a rulebook – guidance on how to behave. It is a lot like being in school all over again. Except now, we are supposed to be adults.
So what if you have reconnected with old friends, which may include old flames, on a social networking website? Must this run interference in your current relationship? The answer is no. Again, we are all adults and we are capable of governing our own social networking lives, including our network relationships with others. But, if you are married or are in a committed relationship, the guidelines to follow should originate within that relationship. If, through open communication with your significant other, you determine that a social networking relationship is inappropriate, I would recommend terminating the network relationship. After all, the tangible relationship should certainly be placed above all virtual relationships. If the hierarchy of relationships is any different or is in doubt, then there may be several other issues worth investigating before answering the question of how a social networking site has run interference in your relationship.
The world of social networking websites is an exciting concept. So much so, that there are phones being designed specifically and solely for the management of social network communications. Someone proclaims an obsession or addiction to Facebook on nearly a daily basis, either in reality or in jest. Obviously, I am partial to Facebook only because it is the most prominent social networking site in my life at this moment. But, as exciting a concept as Facebook presents, it still ranks secondary to my tangible life. I would choose my husband over a problematic Facebook relationship everyday. He need only say the word.
Ultimately, if Facebook is running interference in your relationship, it is because you didn’t check your activities and call a timeout. Prevent conflict by communicating with your significant other and terminating problematic relationships on social networking sites.
Have your social networking activities run interference in your relationship?