In the less than ideal circumstance of having to manage a long distance relationship, it seems natural to turn to social media to help fill the daily quota of your significant other. A small study out of Pepperdine University, however, suggests that there are social media hazards to watch out for when it comes to keeping a long distance relationship in balance in the digital era.
Researchers surveyed a cross-section of 74 college students who were active on social media and were also in long distance relationships. They found that when there was asymmetry between how much time each partner spent on Facebook, e.g. one person spent more time on social media than the other, the result was a sense of uncertainty that brought out negative feelings. As defined in the context of the article, uncertainty in a relationship might mean uncertainty about the future or the current status of a relationship. Researchers also found that, in general, more activity on Facebook correlated with more feelings of jealousy.
Of course, it could simply be the case that people who experience more feelings of jealousy or doubt are driven to Facebook to try to relieve those feelings, and not the other way around. But it is important to note that while social media is a brilliant tool for staying connected, it comes with trade-offs and costs to manage.
The bottom line: while we can’t say for sure that spending time on Facebook will make you less happy in a long distance relationship, it doesn’t seem to help.