Like many of our modern advancements, the expansion of technology is a double-edged sword. While it has made many things in our lives easier, it also acts as a point of contention in our relationships. Social media offers us the benefits of staying in touch with people in a nearly effortless way; compared to the required efforts of the pre-Facebook era, even email seems like an archaic practice. Conversely, social media complicates our lives, often putting strains on our personal relationships.
A study from the University of Indiana recently found that Facebook users who have a committed partner commonly use the site to maintain social ties with people they view as potential “back-up” love interests, in the event their current relationship doesn’t work out. Despite all the hullabaloo over the statistical claims of nearly half of married women being deemed guilty of this, the same research also provided findings regarding men’s exponentially frequent rate of keeping romantic back-up options. In either case, it’s not necessarily a bad thing, and it certainly isn’t a new development in human behavior.
Long before tablets and smartphones flooded our lives with instant messaging and photo-sharing apps, people still engaged in conversations with possible alternative partners. The art of flirting at the water cooler was mastered by both men and women. The only difference now, is that it doesn’t require much skill, and the internet allows for a much broader pool of options. People who may not have had the courage to approach someone in the office are able to save face and send a private message instead. Those who have unattainable coworkers or a lack of attractive locals to interact with can simply go online and connect with a whole slew of interesting hotties (provided you don’t lure in a catfish). There’s even methods for people who lack any understanding of decorum; you can skip the formalities and go straight to indecent proposals with the alarmingly popular act of sending an unwarranted photo of your genitals! Although it seems wildly unsuccessful, it must be working for someone, or else I have no explanation for the amount of unsuspecting women who regularly receive candid snaps of phalluses.
Access, as it seems, is the big game-changer when it comes to modern romance. For all its trouble, love remains everyone’s favorite sport, whether they’re in it to win it or just playing games with my heart. The accessibility is responsible for not only the prevalence of choices available to us, but also our awareness of its presence. So, even though it may be happening more because of social media, we also have social media to thank (or blame, depending on what team you’re on) for the heavily documented proof of its existence. Sure, we may all be mentally drafting people into our fantasy league of future lovers, but how many of us are actually putting these benched players in the game? According to researchers, not any more or less than before the addition of social media. The University of Indiana reportedly found no correlation between Facebook flirting and a person’s level of commitment to their partner. Thus, the possible detriment it has on your relationship remains subjective to the nature of the individuals involved. If you find yourself in need of coaching, just remember: don’t hate the game, hate the player who won’t give you his Facebook password, because he is probably winning some serious pick-up games over there in the sidelines.