Facebook: Friend or Foe in Long-Distance Relationship?


Facebook can be a great way to help sustain a long-distance relationship. Status updates and photos can you make you feel like you’re there when you’re actually hundreds or thousands of miles away.

However, sharing information and photos on Facebook also can be too much of a good thing–and can strain a long-distance relationship.

Psychoanalyst Bethany Marshall told ABC News that social networking sites like Facebook can add to the pressures of a modern relationship. “The Internet is changing what intimacy means,” she said.

Couples are accustomed to the rites of engagement, marriage and divorce, Marshall said. Now, she said, putting your relationship on Facebook for hundreds of strangers to witness “messes with those rites.”

Here’s some insight into why a long-distance relationship could become a long-distance breakup:

  • In 2010, The Associated Press reported that 81 percent of members of the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers had used or faced evidence plucked from Facebook, Myspace, Twitter and other social networking sites over the past five years. The evidence had played a part in divorce cases.
  • A 2008 survey by the Pew Internet & American Life Project found that 22 percent of American adults had used their Facebook profiles for flirting.
  • A 2010 survey of users of SNAP Interactive’s iPhone dating app found that nearly 35 percent of respondents had updated their Facebook status to make someone think they had plans, even if they didn’t, according to Inquistr.com.
  • In a 2009 study of 308 Facebook users ages 17 to 24, researchers discovered that people who are more prone to jealousy will find Facebook just reinforces that jealousy, according to PsychCentral.com. The study was released by Canada’s University of Guelph.

“In the end, it’s more about the personality type than the technology. Certain personalities have a tougher time trusting significant others. The technology is simply an enabler of his or her personality issues. Obsessive types will still check someone’s phone or accuse others of cheating,” Inquistr.com reported.

The study was published in the CyberPsychology & Behavior Journal.

“Facebook has wormed its privacy-obliterating way into many areas of our lives, it would seem, and the messy arena of romantic disentanglements is just another place you can expect to see the social networking giant in the future,” Inquistr.com said.


A resident of Austin since 1999, John Egan has 25 years of experience in journalism, communications and public relations. From 1999 to 2006, he was editor and managing editor of the Austin Business Journal. John’s business blog, called AustInnovation, is at http://austinnovation.com. …

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