Partners: to add or not to add?

If you have an honest and open relationship, there is no reason not to add your partner to your Facebook friends.
If you have an honest and open relationship, there is no reason not to add your partner to your Facebook friends.

WOULD you make flirtatious comments to a member of the opposite sex in front of your current partner?

Would you show next-to-naked pictures of yourself to all of your friends and partner's friends?

Would you stalk your partner's ex and rummage through their things?


Then why would you do it on Facebook?

While the social networking site offers opportunities for meaningful social interactions and connections with friends and family, when it comes to romantic relationships it can open up a Pandora's box of behaviour that can wreak havoc with a relationship; behaviour such as spying, stalking, jealousy, miscommunication and even basic issues of whether or not you should add your significant other.

Relationships Australia Sunshine Coast manager Sue Miller said it was important to be clear and set boundaries with partners about Facebook and decide together what you viewed as appropriate and inappropriate online behaviour.

“People are often more brave behind a computer screen,” Ms Miller said.

“A good rule is don't say or do anything you wouldn't be comfortable saying or doing face-to-face.”

Since the introduction of social media never before has it been so easy to instantly learn so much about your partner and their life before your relationship. Former partners, past photos, fights and love declarations can all be accessed with the click of mouse.

Ms Miller said this could be both a blessing and a curse.

She said if you added your partner and gave them access to all of your past and they accepted it, it could be a great bonding experience and fuel for a sound and positive relationship.

“It certainly does make you an open book,” she said.

But it can bring jealousy and insecurity.

She said discretion was important, as well as being mindful of the sort of comments and photos you posted.

“I think you really need to question who will be looking at it,” she said.

To add or not to add, is the modern day relationship question.

Ms Miller said if you had an honest and open relationship and wanted that relationship to continue there was no reason not to add your partner to your Facebook friends.

“If one partner says no, they don't want that, you have to wonder what they're hiding,” she said.

With more and more time spent “connecting” online it is hard to imagine that anyone could be lonely, but Ms Miller said according to the recent Relationships Indicators Survey 2011, people were lonelier than ever.

Thirty per cent of respondents aged 25 to 34 told the survey they were frequently lonely.

“Facebook can certainly evoke a lot of emotions,” Ms Miller said.

Looking at profiles of people having fun, going to parties you weren't invited to, or a former partner posting loved-up comments can have you questioning your own life and relationship and lead to self-doubt and insecurity.

“If you are feeling this way you need to get off Facebook and speak to someone,” she said.

The most important thing for any relationship she said was having quality face-to-face time.

“Facebook has its upsides and downsides and you really need to ask yourself ‘is it purposeful and meaningful and having a positive effect on my relationship?' If it is not, it's time to get offline.”

University of the Sunshine Coast communications lecturer Anna Potter said because Facebook was still a relatively new phenomenon there was no clear-cut etiquette for online behaviour.

“A sensible rule to live by is don't put anything on there that you wouldn't be happy to say or do in your day-to-day life,” she said.


Dealing with Facebook relationship problems

  • Communication is key, talk to your partner about the impact Facebook is having on your relationship.
  • If something on your profile is making your partner jealous discuss why and consider removing the offending material.
  • Facebook can cause insecurities so make sure you spend plenty of time growing the relationship face-to-face.
  • If a former partner's posts are too much to handle, hide them from your feed and try not to obsess over their profile.
  • If you keep past partners as friends set your privacy settings so they can only see certain information and can't comment on your page.
  • Be mindful of what you post on Facebook and delete anything that may come back to haunt you.

Topics:  dating facebook relationships

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