May 11, 2011 | relationships

Does The Internet Ruin Relationships?

In my first relationship when I was 17, I’d just gotten my first mobile phone. Back then, you only used it if you were actually out and couldn’t be reached on your home phone. Texting was complicated and took us all a while to figure out. No one was really using email that much. Basically, the only way to know what was up with your significant other was to actually hang out with them. Fast forward to 2011 and managing your relationship has become a complete clusterfuck as we all attempt to navigate our way through the myriad of technology that now plays a part in our love lives. So, does blogging and social media ruin relationships?

It used to all be so simple. You’d go to on a date and when was over and you went back to your separate homes, you imagined they spent all their spare time thinking about you. That was much easier and much more romantic. But now, you can have a quick browse of their Facebook profile, then you see…what’s this? He commented on her photo? She’s still friends with her ex? Suddenly you can see who they talk to. Then you can jump on Twitter and follow entire conversations they’re having with other people. And you realise your relationship isn’t the little bubble you thought it was. The outside world like, exists. And you’re just observing, so it’s easy to see things that aren’t really there.

Then there’s blogging. I started my blog when I was single and very alone – most guys I dated along the way hadn’t taken much of an interest in it. My blog was my husband, child and best friend – I poured my heart out to it and into it and got no judgment. It has, quite literally, been everything to me. It wasn’t until I got into a relationship that actually matters to me that I realised I’d almost forgotten how to communicate certain things with people first, rather than my computer. I know it sounds silly, but it had never occurred to me that my significant other might find it odd that I’d share personal information with my 4000 odd Twitter followers and thousands of blog readers before I share it with him. I was just so used to doing that. I’ve come to realise, I live so much of my life online, there are parts of it I have to hold back, parts that are just for him, so he knows that I value him over 4000 strangers. But that doesn’t mean those 4000 become less a part of my life.

This is an element of relationships that we haven’t had to deal with before; blogging, social media, friendships with strangers, over sharing. We just have to navigate as we go. The degree to which you let your online relationships interfere with your real life ones is totally up to you. But really it’s just as simple as making your special someone feel special.

Has your online life affected your relationship? How do you deal with it?

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23 Comments

Dan

1000s of blog readers!?

Bloody he’ll, I need to write about running more.

I fortunately managed to fool someone into marrying me before the Internet became ubiquitous. Thank god, as I was awful at dating as it was.

Honest Mum

Really interesting piece. There was an article a while back in The Guardian I think about the fear Mummy bloggers are neglecting their children whiles writing their blogs or being on twitter. For me and many women having that support has been incredible, a release from those lonely times especially in the early months when some are too exhausted to socialise, leave the house etc. It is inevitable the Internet will affect relationships and us the user should try to manage that. I recently took a vacation without my iPhone and it was brilliant, totally liberating and I could fully focus on my husband and family. I urge everyone to try at least once.

Amy (Australasia Dreaming)

When you have experience of a bad online relationship, you become a lot more careful with what you share with the world – believe me.

That said, my current boyfriend reads my blog, comments on my blog, and follows me on twitter. I trust him more than anyone – and the fact that in two months we’ll be living 16 000 miles apart means that social media will make our relationship so, so much easier to deal with.

In a way, it’s liberating as well as entraping – and personally, I’m grateful for it… but if I didn’t trust him 110%, I guess it would be a different story entirely.

Nickie

I am very lucky in the fact that my husband had a hobby that is an old-fashioned version of the internet in a way – Amateur Radio. He has always spoke to and met up with “strangers” and totally understands my relationship with my readers and followers.

It is good to take a step back and experience ‘real life’ from time to time, though. I also think that if you have a partner who isn’t as clued up as yourself with whatever your hobby may be, then they are never going to “get” it.

Amma // Beyond Beyond

I am quite good about not giving up too much of my personal life online. I have been an over sharer, but a couple of experiences really taught be about being careful about what you share with the outside world.
In terms of my relationship, I have made sure that I give my other half his due and I don’t air our laundry dirty or clean out in public, and as my hubby is my best mate I always keep him in the loop as to what I am getting up to. The main thing is time – social media can me a vacuum it can suck you in and when you find that you are spending more time communicating with ‘online buddies’ than those you can actually see, then you have to re examine your priorities.

I have been guilty of doing that on occasion, being so caught up in being a pithy and witty little so and so online, and at times OCD with what is going on in my digital world that I have been guilty of not paying enough attention to my loved ones.

It is a balancing act that I am getting better at, with social media and the complexity of being online being so ‘new’ there are still a lot of rules that I am learning, breaking and creating for mysel. But the most important thing of all that keeps me grounded with all these digital shenanigans is a quote that ironically I saw on twitter from Alain de Botton
“The desire to be known to and liked by complete strangers should be treated as an illness like any other.”

Olivia

Very interesting post… I’ve thought this subject a lot in fact and have even been tempted to commit ‘Facebook suicide’ on account of my obsessive side being too interested in my boyfriend’s past life. Although I managed to get over myself and avoid the temptation to browse photos of him with his exes, it is a very interesting and weird thing that all of that is out there for all to see, if paranoia or insecurity was to get the better of you.

Another thing I’ve found is that since my colleagues started following me on Twitter I’ve changed the way I tweet (less of the “can’t be arsed to be at work today”). And since my parents started reading my blog, the more I over-analyse what I say and avoid certain subjects like the plague (bikini waxing…nuff said).

When I started my blog and Twitter I really liked the fact it was strangers reading my ramblings as I felt less judged, but bringing ‘real life’ people into it puts me on edge a bit. Amma’s closing comment above is very apt…perhaps the attention and reassurance-seeking side of me enjoyed venting, joking and sharing my feelings with strangers who were less likely to judge me than those I already know…

O,h and to your main point (relationships), yes, my boyfriend gets very annoyed when I spend the whole evening on twitter/blogging. He feels ignored which I suppose is fair, although he has his own fix: Football Manager.

Emma B.

This is such an interesting and apt post today! My husband is currently away on business in the US so I’ve been waiting for him to wake up and send me a quick text saying Hi. I hadn’t heard from him so had assumed he’s still asleep but I just noticed that he’s been writing on a friend’s wall on facebook for the past 45 minutes!! So I sent him a sulky message. Couldn’t resist. 😉

Sian

I think it can affect a relationship. It’s actually the one thing that I don’t blog about. I might mention someone I’m seeing in passing or context, but I don’t think it’s fair for me to comment on something private that involves someone else.

I don’t share stuff on Twitter until I’ve shared with someone special offline. Conversely, my ex wouldn’t read my Tweets if we were meeting up later in the day – otherwise he’d know all the things that I’d been up to. But I like the immediacy of sending someone a funny email, a link you’ve seen, having a quick Skype chat because you’ve had a really horrible meeting. That stuff can actually bring you closer to someone.

The internet only ruins something if you let it. I still think boundaries are important, but they’re personal. I don’t think sending someone a cute tweet every now and again will ruin the foundation of a relationship that’s really special.

aGoalDigger

Yes, yes, and yes. It ruins relationships or in my case potential relationships. I once tweeted that my new guy will not be computer savvy and will have an email address ending with excite.com…which doesn’t exist anymore, I don’t think, LOL. So my “rules” are that I don’t follow them on twitter, or friend them on FB if they have accounts. It’s not only because I don’t want to see what they’re doing, but I also don’t want to be scrutinized for innocent tweets or posts. I don’t share my blog with guys, until I think they can handle my candor. Oh and I don’t engage in too many text exchanges. If we can’t actually talk and have conversations, then fuggidaboutit. Gosh, I could go on and on!

Thanks for this post. It’s a good one.

The Jaded NYer

When I actually find a guy to be in a relationship with I’ll let you know LOL

But seriously, in the beginning I’d DIE a million deaths before I let a guy know I had a blog, because then he’d see allllllll my crazy laid out in black and white for- LITERALLY- all the world to see.

Now? Pffft! Fuck it. I give out my URL like Halloween candy. If you’re going to date me you might as well know about my online world.

Jo

I so know where you are coming from Bangs. I always assume my other half has read my blogs/tweets/updates and have often forgotten to talk to him about stuff in the, you know, REAL WORLD away from the screen.
I also try to stop checking my iPhone like a demented freak after about 9pm so I can switch off, and we try to have real conversations.
Always tricky to balance.
On the upside, he reads my tweets to have prior warning as to my mood before he comes home 😉 Forewarned is forearmed and all that xxxx

Karla

My particular dislike is facebook. I hate how people feel the need to wash their dirty laundry on there and for couples to have full blown arguments on it. I have to admit I do check who my boyfriend is friends with and it has caused rifts in the past. I think with everything there pros and cons but you just have to find the right balance x

Hannah

I was going out with someone for 3 years and social networking was never an issue but I know for others it was! The only time I ever got annoyed with him was after we broke up when I discovered on fb that he had a new girlfriend. This didn’t bother me because I was happy for him, what bothered me was that he didn’t tell me himself since we’d made an effort to stay friends after we split up etc, he was apologetic about it all so it was ok in the end but i definitely understand how having that element of unknown is so much better than knowing (and panicking) over all the stuff you can see happening. as long as people don’t get jealous and paranoid about it all then it’s ok

@MissStephWeedy

Since my ex got me pregnant and ran off to Wales, I email him updates on the pregnancy etc and although he has said he wants to be involved, he is completely ignorant. Then I see he is on twitter watching eurovision and it genuinely makes my blood boil. I would much prefer it if I didn’t know he rated eurovision above his unborn son but obviously I can’t help but look

Vic

In some ways this social media lark can make it simple: you’re friends on facebook, he blocks you = he’s just not that in to you.

BWNG

I’m lucky in a sense that I have three other brothers to share my blog with but I do get the odd “look” when I go online in her presence. It’s just a case of compromise and having the other realise that this (as in blogging/writing) is an important part of your life. There has to be a right balance and less paranoia about each other’s use of social media

Great Post!

Ben Rodgers

The net brings the feeling on no boundaries because it is faceless. The words that hurt can be easily erased and like twitter and Facebook people can be blocked and unfollowed.

Online life does have boundaries. People do get hurt. Feelings are left on pages, status and timelines. It’s hard to mix a life of online with people who are not online. It’s a culture. It has rules. And like any other life the lines can be blurred.

Life is hard enough and adding technology to it can make it complicated. But the most elementary emotion that can be expressed about this topic fear. Being afraid of being left alone in life or on the keyboard.

Margarito Carsen

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Joseph Anthony Solis

That’s right sisn phones got a lot beter the world got a lot more mest up.relationships get ruined not only but couples but with friends and so forth all this online social Media should get banned people don’t have nothing better to do can be honest s*** like it’s their life

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