Social media and technology in generally is never far away from any of us, as we keep in touch with the world via the internet and our smartphone. The problem is that so many of us are so intertwined with this technology that it is often having an effect on our relationships.
There are so many distractions in the modern world, that a number of us run the risk of turning an obsession with checking our emails, surfing the internet and interacting on social media sites, into a relationship-breaker where the end result is divorce papers.
There is no question that technology is having an effect on our relationships and you could argue that the problem with what could even become an internet addiction, might be viewed as a very modern love triangle.
Feeling isolated in your relationship
If you have enjoy interacting with friends and family on sites like Facebook and surfing the web on a regular basis, this is all perfectly normal of course and typical of how many of use the internet in our lives.
The real danger comes when you spend an increasing amount of time on the internet so that there comes a virtual tipping point where you end up substituting your online world with the physical world, slowly withdrawing from the physical relationships you had and experiencing an increasing sense of isolation.
If you are married and in a relationship, an obsession with all things internet is a clear and present danger that could ultimately see that association come to an end.
The dangers of emotional invisibility
Even if you manage to gain a reasonable element of control over the amount of time spent surfing the internet and interacting with others online, there is another aspect of the online world that can have an impact on our personal relationships.
You can’t have failed to notice that there are a number of people who feel that they are able to say things via social media sites or in an email that they probably would not if they were actually face-to-face with the person they are directing their attention to.
This virtual emotional invisibility seems to have encouraged the awful examples of hurtful and aggressive posts that you don’t have to look too far to find on the internet. This is clearly a dangerous state of mind to adopt when it comes to your own personal relationship and how you interact with your partner electronically.
Sending your partner a text message, email or posting something inappropriate on a social media site seems to be a common phenomenon, where you don’t register the feelings that would be present when face-to-face, and end up saying something that can be very hurtful.
Social media sites and emails are potentially great ways of communicating with each other, but it should be remembered that it often pays to aim to avoid saying something online that you would not actually feel comfortable relaying in person.
Learning to unplug
It is now very difficult to get by without having some sort of online interaction but if you are spending too much time on the internet or have difficulty controlling your emotional responses in this environment, this can soon lead to a problem with your relationship in the physical world.
In view of these inherent dangers and to help improve your mental wellbeing, it makes sense to try and become disciplined about how much time you spend using the internet. It is way too easy to stay connected throughout the whole day, checking emails, sending texts, surfing the internet and everything else, but the aim should be to unplug and clear your mind.
The early warning signs that you need to take a break from technology and enjoy some offline interaction, are when you are sitting with your partner, friends or family, yet still find yourself checking your phone for any emails, tweets or Facebook posts that might have just arrived on your smartphone.
Learning how to unplug will help you to enjoy the time you need to form and cement relationships.
Closer together, but further apart
It is ironic that the internet has managed to bring us all together in terms of connectivity, yet also has the capacity to push us further apart.
Using technology effectively makes it a great modern communication tool, but spend too much time online to the exclusion of others around you, or use the internet to wound with words, and you ultimately run the risk of falling victim to a very modern love triangle.
Harrison Miles is a relationship and marriage therapist who shares his thoughts, and tips on finding and keeping The One’ around the web with his writing.