Archive for social media

What’s the etiquette of Social Media and Couple Relationships?

One of the uncharted perils of any serious new relationship is how to deal with the tricky unwritten rules of social media. Without frank discussion this can be a subject of anxiety and frustration leading to possible future misunderstandings and conflict.

How soon is it advisable to change your status
What to do with the untidy business of past connections
Who has access – and to how much?

It is a given now that nothing is ever truly ‘disappeared’ – as somewhere out there in the ether resides every detail we ever document, so it’s vital to have a discussion at the start of any new coupling to safely air feelings and agree on some basic social media guidelines that suit you both and will safeguard the relationship.
Most people come with history – so it’s important to chat openly about your feelings around exes and how they may feature in the future.
Staying in constant touch with recent lovers can often threaten a new partner and it can also keep us tied to the past. It’s hard to remain connected to a passionate past relationship and believe it’s going to be easy to slip into ‘friendship’ mode without a period of separation during which you can both move on and become individuals again in your own right.
Back in the day, people would have memory boxes filled with old photographs and treasured love-letters. These would not have been on the public display that Facebook and Instagram offer. They would have been tucked away in an attic or cupboard to be fondly rediscovered from time to time in private. But now these memories are publicly and eternally displayed.
Will it bother either of you to continue seeing relatively intimate images of past lovers draped over your current squeeze – especially if they are open for public comment?
Discuss what could be deleted or hidden and be thoughtful about the levels of concern that each of you may have.
One of the most important aspects of any relationship is the ability to trust each other.
If one of you feels uncomfortable then find out why and keep an honest attitude to understanding why something may have an affect on your partner. What seems simple to one of you might feel complicated or threatening to another.
Transparency is key, secrets are divisive and cause great pain when discovered. It’s important to listen and care about each other’s point of view. You may not easily agree, but at least you will feel heard and should understand more about your new love.
This is a fresh experience for you both so keep the present safe by treating the past with caution and sensitivity.

 

Christina Fraser

Online Relationships Vs The Couple

Losing closeness
The act of connecting on social media of all kinds is really quite narcissistic. It’s about ‘ME’ – my popularity, my selfies, my adeptness at games, my rating on twitter.
In a close couple we have to learn to give, to listen and sometimes allow quietness into the relationship.
Intimacy can only come through a feeling of real connectedness and feeling special.
Digital life has its place, but not when it feels as if it has replaced the significant other in the couple relationship.
Sometimes it can feel like a battle for attention when a partner wants more time and complains that a screen appears to be more enticing than spending time focused on each other.
Keep those links on the outside and don’t allow them to become a dangerous distraction.

Why can’t we allow ourselves to sometimes feel lonely?
The impulse is to avoid this at all costs and an easy solution is to rely on social media where there are countless potential friends with whom to engage.
We can link with others through Facebook, Twitter, Instagram etc. to find friends and like-minded mates or colleagues. We can get an instant fix for our isolation and be part of a limitless community. We can collect ‘friends’ but then too easily lose a sense of real closeness so that now we no longer need to feel isolated.
Why then is being connected to this apparently enabling group of others such a source of frustration in couples therapy?
It can be hard, sometimes, to distinguish between meaningful relationships in the real world and casual connections that make a useful shield to reinforce our anxiety about our actual place in society.

Change your habits
There will always be jobs to do online, and sociable linking – some of which is a response to chores and duty, some of which is fun and playful. But there need to be boundaries.

• Agree to have a date night, preferably weekly in which there is an allowed time (not more than 45 minutes) to catch up on work/family/domestic issues. After that the conversation has to revolve around the two of you.
• At least three nights a week, try to go to bed at the same time. Intimacy is not just about sex, but engaging fully with each other. Don’t use the excuse of a late night TV show or a compulsive game to avoid this closeness.
• Screens should be turned off at least one hour before lights out. We need time to have a digi-detox regularly.

We have all witnessed the sad picture of two people at a restaurant table, each glued to their small screen, temporarily oblivious to their companion.
Don’t let your social media connections fill up the spaces that should be kept for your partner.

Christina Fraser

Managing Virtual and Face-to-Face Relationships

• It would seem that there is a fundamental human urge to connect and relate to others – although that may be expressed in a multiplicity of ways. Each person will have their own definition of intimacy, closeness, love, relationship, connection, friendship – and what is necessary for them to remain comfortable and relaxed within their different relationships.
• How we relate to one another as adults is affected by our reactions to the combination of our family histories, our friendships, our school experiences, our romantic liaisons, our work colleagues. But connect to others we do. It is an expression of our need to be known and belong, to be recognised and heard, to be attached, to be seen as special.
• This seems to be indicated by the growth of Social Networks – whether Facebook (with billions of members), Twitter, Linkedin – where we count the number of ‘friends’, ‘followers’, or ‘contacts’ and get a sense of affirmation and validation that we matter.
• But how does a development of online relationships, and an absorption with our screens, impact on our face-to-face relationships? Is our understanding of what is a ‘friend’ changing? We can feel challenged and frustrated when we are faced with the complexities and flaws of the ‘whole’ person in reality. We can escape into online relationships, which are often ‘part’ relationships, with fantasy filling in the bits that are unknown. The ‘perfect’ person seems tantalisingly within reach. On dating websites there is always someone else to choose, with the click of a mouse, as we chase the elusive perfect match.
• There can be a danger of developing a powerful emotional connection with someone we message online but whom we have never met. The difficulty lies in the fact that we do not have to accommodate their foibles, idiosyncrasies, mood changes and we can role-play in return. There can be a frisson of excitement that transcends the mundanity of ordinary life. We can become addicted to the escapism offered by the virtual world. Do we use social media to avoid tackling a problem in our ‘real’ relationships?
• Does confiding in an online friend matter if we are in a close couple relationship? If the messaging becomes sexual will it be experienced as a betrayal and viewed as an affair? Are boundaries broken if photographs and images are exchanged? Aaron Balick describes it as one of the partners going ‘missing in action’. If things are serious it may be time to seek counselling and explore what is happening in the dynamics of the relationship.
• Recognising it can be compulsive, it may be that consciously monitoring our use of tablets and smartphones will be enough. We may need to discipline ourselves to switch off during mealtimes, sitting on the sofa, at bedtime, and talk face-to-face and touch skin-to-skin!

Kathy Rees