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Social Media Use and Social and Romantic Relationships

Social media networks have significantly influenced relationships in the modern world. While platforms like Facebook, X (formerly Twitter), Instagram, Snapchat, and TikTok can be great communication channels to maintain connections and interactions with loved ones, the same sites have been cited for adverse outcomes in social and romantic relationships. Therefore, social media distracts face-to-face conversations, facilitates insecurities and jealousy, and leads to unrealistic expectations. The recent adoption of social media sites has thus not only led to paradigm shifts in how people interact and communicate but is linked to deteriorating social and romantic relationships. In fact, scholars have argued that social media harms romantic and social relationships as it erodes intimacy and Trust (Abril et al., 2022). The paper argues that social media use has led to more adverse impacts on romantic and social relationships than positive contributions.

Hatamleh et al. (2023) argued that the impact of social media on romantic and social relationships can vary depending on the quantity and quality of social media use by the partners. While the effects of social media use can be mediated by components like self-esteem, social comparison, and social support, the impact on relationships is usually harmful. This is especially true for people with low self-esteem who cannot handle the peer pressure brought by the use of social media. This means that people cannot maintain their romantic relationships through social media due to comparisons that leave users feeling worse about themselves or their partners. Similarly, people who lack social support might be negatively affected when they argue with their partners via social media instead of physical confrontations.

A study by Uusiautti & Määttä (2017) revealed several themes or negative implications of social media on romantic and social relationships. The most mentioned theme was that social media networks take time from a relationship. Instead of helping partners strengthen their relationships, participants revealed that social media sites like Facebook are time-consuming. This does not, however, override the fact that social media platforms have eased communication among spouses and family members. Even when the partners or family members are together, their attention is fixed or shifted to social media applications. In such a sense, social media interrupts attention and interactions and alienates relationship partners from each other. One of the participants lamented that people spend more time on social media instead of focusing on their lives or strengthening their relationships. As a result, romantic and other social relationships are threatened by the presence of Facebook, Instagram, TikTok, and other social media applications. Social media has also been found to establish false images about relationships, as couples and family members attempt to maintain specific pictures for the public to view them as perfect friends, acquaintances, or romantic partners. The problem with such images is that the social media representation does not correspond to the actual relationship.

The results of the Uusiautti & Määttä study are consistent with a previous study by Utz & Beukeboom (2011). However, Utz and colleagues revealed how Facebook negatively affects romantic and other social relationships. A literature review by the authors showed that using Facebook increases jealousy among family members and romantic partners. Since Facebook gives users access to each other’s profiles that contain information they could not access before the arrival of social networking sites, the levels of jealousy, especially in romantic relationships, have increased. If romantic partners find their significant other engaging in potential romantic conversations, they become jealous, resulting in potential harm. When one of the partners is physically abusive, they will use the newfound information as a reason to justify their actions and attack them further.

Some partners and family members are too reliant on the need for theories and the opinions of other social media users (Yacoub et al., 2018). This has negatively contributed to romantic and social relationships in the modern world. Friends tend to approve relationships based on perceived satisfaction. When such approval by the friends is driven by their perceptions of the relationship instead of the reality of how successful the connection is, it can be misleading. When couples rely on the opinions of other social media users instead of reality, they are likely to introduce unnecessary issues into their relationships and avoid healthy communication patterns with their family members or partners. For example, several families have created social media accounts and constantly use them to approve their bond and the type of engagement they prefer. Other social media users might think such families are ideal relationships and ignite problems if their families do not act like the ones they see on social media. Similar cases have been witnessed in romantic relationships where top social media influencers create an identity that other couples can only dream of. Such identities will likely cause problems when the couples do not act like celebrities.

Even though social media use has adversely affected romantic and social relationships, these sites have had some positive impacts. One of the positive contributions was mentioned earlier regarding these platforms easing communication between partners, friends, and family members. Studies have further revealed that computer-mediated communication does not only help people maintain close relationships but also helps them form new ones. This is where problems start, especially among romantic partners. Since people can create new relationships, cases of cheating have so far increased. McDaniel et al. (2017) write that romantic partners displaying secure attachment patterns depend on others and establish close and intimate with their partners. However, those with insecure attachment patterns are likely to avoid attachments and can easily engage in casual sex with other people. Social media presents an excellent opportunity for people to interact with more humans and form social relationships, which can facilitate infidelity in marriages and other romantic engagements. This implies that although social media has eased communication, it has promoted positive and negative impacts on social and romantic relationships.

Ideally, there are increasing suspicions over the interactions partners engage in. With some people addicted to social media, their overreliance on different platforms to communicate has constantly raised fears that they could be searching for more romantic partners. At the same time, suspicions over the type of friendships children develop with their peers via social media means that there is a worrying trend of people using social media to recruit children into suspicious groups and activities such as child pornography.


Although the use of social media has brought tremendous benefits in communication and other interactions, it is evident that the different platforms have been associated with adverse effects on romantic and social relationships. Most people are now involved in cheating due to the availability of channels to connect with other people besides their romantic partners. Similarly, levels of jealousy have increased since social media users now have more access to information they could not access before the development of social networking sites. Friends and family members can now compare their group of friends and family setups with other social media influencers. This has left many people feeling awful about their friendships or family members, which can result in problems like the ones witnessed in romantic relationships. When people rely on the validation of their social media followers and friends, they will likely create relationship problems.


Hatamleh, I. H. M., Safari, A. O., Habes, M., Tahat, O., Ahmad, A. K., Abdallah, R. A. Q., & Aissani, R. (2023). Trust in social media: enhancing social relationships. Social Sciences12(7), 416.

McDaniel, B. T., Drouin, M., & Cravens, J. D. (2017). Do you have anything to hide? Infidelity-related behaviors on social media sites and marital satisfaction. Computers in Human Behavior66, 88-95. DOI: 10.1016/j.chb.2016.09.031.

Utz, S., & Beukeboom, C. J. (2011). The role of social network sites in romantic relationships: Effects on jealousy and relationship happiness. Journal of Computer-Mediated Communication16(4), 511-527.

Uusiautti, S., & Määttä, K. (2017). Will social media strengthen or threaten romantic love? Journal of Social Sciences6(4), 709-725.

Yacoub, C., Spoede, J., Cutting, R., & Hawley, D. (2018). The impact of social media on romantic relationships. Journal of Education and Social Development2(2), 53-58. DOI: 10.5281/zenodo.1490763.


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