While dating apps and social media can help connect singles, technology also has the potential to destroy relationships…

Social media and infidelity can go hand-in-hand.

“Not only does it stop you from spending quality time talking and interacting with your partner, but it makes it really easy to start up an emotionally intimate relationship with someone else online,” says Relationship counsellor and clinical sexologist, Leandie Buys.

Buys identifies some of the warning signs to watch out for, and how to protect your relationship from social media and potential infidelity in the article below:


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Social media is causing an infidelity epidemic, and it’s ruining relationships

Over the past few years, I’ve seen a large increase in the number of relationships affected by infidelity through social media. What started out as an innocent ‘hello’ sent to an old school friend on Facebook ends up in a full-blown affair.

Social media is particularly “dangerous” for relationships that are already in a vulnerable position. All relationships go through ups and downs, but if you’re in a difficult place with your partner, and you’re struggling to feel fulfilled in your relationship, social media opens the door to find someone who “appreciates you more”.

That little message that pops up on your Facebook page that says “you may know this person” could be the beginning of the end of your relationship as you know it if you aren’t careful.

It’s too easy to reconnect with an old flame, or strike up a conversation with someone that has similar interests to you. Before you know it, you’re hooked on their praises and enthusiasm, and you spend hours fantasising about your potential life with them.

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How to limit the impact of social media on your relationship:

Every couple should have rules for social media in their household – these rules should apply to adults AND kids. The adults should be setting the example as to how to have healthy relationships while still incorporating social media into their everyday life.

Each household may have different rules based on their past experiences and values.

When chatting to couples, I ask them to answer the following questions, and they put together their rules based on the answers:

  • May your partner interact with someone of the opposite sex through social media?
  • May your partner interact with an old school friend or flame through social media?
  • Should cell phones and iPads be allowed at the dinner table?
  • Should cell phones and iPads be allowed while you’re watching TV?
  • Should cell phones and iPads be allowed in the bedroom?
  • Should cell phones and iPads be allowed on date night?
  • Should cell phones and iPads be allowed while you’re having a conversation?

To give you a rough idea, these are the rules for our house:

My husband and I don’t chat with anyone from the opposite sex via social media. I once received an SMS from a friend of mine’s husband – it was one of those ‘pass this along to 10 friends etc…’ messages. I decided not to respond because I knew that he had previously had a number of affairs.

I just imagined how my friend would have felt if she had checked his phone, and seen my name in his messages list. For someone who is already vulnerable and hurt, I would never want her to suspect me of having an affair with her husband!

When my husband and I spend quality time together at dinner time, or chat after work, we don’t check our cell phones and social media. We only check Facebook occasionally in our own free time to see what our friends and family are up to.

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Social media, work emails, and SMSs are banned on date nights!

This is sacred time where we give each other our full attention.

In my opinion, cell phones and iPads should be banned from the bedroom. Your bedroom is for sleep and sex. You should not be bringing social media and all of those ‘extra people’ into your private sanctuary.

A lot of couples struggling with infidelity say that one of the warning signs of an affair was waking up in the middle of the night to the sound of a ‘ping’ from the iPad, or seeing their partner sneak off to the bathroom with their cell phone.

“Snoopervising” and anxiety

If you and your partner don’t have clear rules about social media in your relationship, it might eventually cause anxiety and suspicion, leading to some ‘snoopervising’ of each other’s cell phones and other electronics. This lack of trust and a breakdown in communication is difficult to restore, so it’s best to ensure it doesn’t get broken in the first place.

If you and your partner need some help putting together some social media rules for your relationship, it would benefit you to see a therapist to help facilitate the process.

It is important to have these rules in place for the benefit of your relationship as well as your family. Your kids should adhere to the same rules to ensure proper quality family time and interaction.

Why not start today with setting up some rules?