What effect does Facebook have on relationships?

  • Author: Lauren
  • Lauren Fisher,

Facebook is certainly having a peculiar effect on relationships. You hear the scare stories of people breaking up with someone as a result of finding a dodgy photo or seeing your current partner change their status to 'single' as the first that you hear of it. Facebook has changed many aspects of human behaviour and connectivity, but it's also affecting relationships in ways we couldn't have predicted, providing a very modern approach to the connection with your loved one.

Facebook predicting breakups

The result of a project by David McCandless - the graph below shows breakups chronicled on Facebook. It allows you to see at what times people are breaking up. The team behind the graph reviewed status updates of more than 10,000 people to see at what times people had broken up. Maybe not surprising that there's a peak around Spring Break, but 2 weeks before Christmas seems a bit harsh!

[caption id="attachment_13592" align="aligncenter" width="550" caption="Image from David McCandless"]

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Remove your ex from your Facebook life

Facebook made a recent change that allowed you to effectively remove your ex from your life. The photo memories box appears on the side of some Facebook pages and usually shows pictures of the friends it deems you to be most interested in, through the use of an algorithm. They recently made a change that meant you wouldn't be shown pictures of someone you had been in a relationship with. So now, if you've tagged an ex in a photo, you can avoid seeing their picture flash up, unwanted, on your page. I think this is a brilliantly quirky move by Facebook, that was certainly well in demand. The change was made off the  back of a group set up to protest,and it's nice to see Facebook make real changes in response to popular demand.

Track the history of relationships

This feature isn't solely focused on romantic relationships, but allows you to watch the history of a relationship between two friends, or a romantic couple almost through a virtual scrapbook. It's certainly creepy, but fascinating too. This is available through the new Facebook Friendship pages feature, which was created at one of Facebook's all night hackathon events. It allows you to see all the interactions between 2 friends, such as wall posts and photos that they're both tagged in. If you know a couple that started out as friends, it could certainly be interesting from the point of view of analysing human behaviour. Though it does feel a little stalkerish, it's also a nice way of creating a permanent reminder of the beginning of your relationship (friendship or romantic) if you were particularly interested in.. yourself. In order to see a Friendship page, click on the link under your friend's profile that says 'you and xxx'. You can also search for 2 different friends within that page, if you're friends with both of them.

Using Facebook makes us jealous

A study conducted last year, looked at the effect that the increased access to information about our contacts, was having on relationships. The findings included that out of 308 respondents, 19.1% were jealous and overly monitored the behaviour of their other halves, as a result of the increased ability to find information on them. A further 10.3% also admitted that they found it hard to limit the time they spent on the profile of their other halves. It's an interesting consideration. It used to be the case that there were much clearer boundaries set in relationships. If your boyfriend told you they were out for the weekend, that was pretty much it. But now you have the ability, should you want to, to scour their Facebook page for updates over the weekend, to see what they're up to. It's certainly not healthy, and not something I'd personally be interested in, but the temptation is clearly there and in some cases, is having a negative effect on relationships.

Breaking up on Facebook

This is an unfortunate trend, but it seems that more and more people are breaking up with their partners on Facebook. If you ask me that's right up there with dumping via text, but it seems it's becoming more acceptable! In a recent survey of 1000 Facebook users, 25% of respondents found out their relationship was over by seeing it on Facebook. And 21% admitted they would change their Facebook status to single, in order to break up with someone. This seems like quite a high figure to me. What I also liked about the survey is that it found 35% of respondents had updated their Facebook status to make it seem like they had plans, when they didn't. I'm sure this is used in quite a few sticky situations, to avoid the odd bad date or two! When people are breaking up over Facebook I think we can say that it's finally arrived as a mainstream form of communication.