How Sexy is Social Media?

When thinking of sex and social media two thoughts easily come to mind:
The first is casually browsing your feed when, all of a sudden, you get a little beep from your partner. ‘I want you now’, followed by a cheeky glimpse of flesh in a tempting photo attachment.

The second is moving close to your partner, kissing them, fawning over them, only for them to go ‘Not now, I’m reading my feed’.
Neither of these scenarios is wholly accurate, nor indicative, of all social media engagements, but they do easily play on the mind. One for good reasons, the other…not so much.

Has Social Media Ruined Sexual Relationships?

The negative impact of social media on relationships is still up for debate, but some studies have been done that suggests that it could have a damaging effect.

The most notable of which was undertaken by Russell Clayton at the University of Missouri and was published in Journal of Cyberpsychology, Behavior and Social Networking.  This study concluded that people who use social media once a day are more likely to report conflicts brought about by social media.

This is interesting but also, to some degree, seems obvious. It’s much like saying ‘Couples who spend more time in pubs have more arguments in pubs’; how much is caused by social media itself and how much is more due to the frequency of engaging with our ever-increasing digital landscape?

Of course, it’s perfectly possible to go OTT with social media, though, and the study did find that an increase of Facebook monitoring brought with it an increase in jealousy, partner monitoring, and cheating (as connections ex-partners can lead to a rekindling of affections).

Interestingly, this study found that the social media risk was biggest in the first three years of a relationship, so new lovers may need to be a bit more social media-aware than the golden oldies.

The Benefits of Social Media

But it’s not all doom and gloom. Far from it, actually.

Social media has been strongly linked with helping people in long-distance relationships maintain their emotional intimacy and has made communication in relationships generally much easier to accommodate.

Nowadays over a third of individuals are marrying someone they met online, after all, which, invariably, means social media has become somewhat of a matchmaker of our modern times. Being able to decide who you talk to online and lead the conversation is also a huge step up from the blind dates and wanted ads that we once depended on. Things are much more intimate now—more manageable—and people can really get to know each other before even meeting face-to-face.

When you think of what social media enables, this makes perfect sense. Social media is, at its core, a form of highly revealing self-expression—where people just to choose just how to manage their own identity, and relationships, in a relatively safe moderation of their time and space. The connections made online thus reflect the desires of one’s self in an honest and open way.

After all, a person doesn’t know you until they’ve seen your 50th share of that adorable cat meme.

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Keeping Control

All that being said, social media can come with its own trials and tribulations, and it’s very important to make sure that you control your relationship with social media (and your partner) rather than letting it control you.

Ironically, the best way to do this is by not getting too invested in any aspect of social media…at least not to the point of excess.

Don’t, for example, spend every moment of every day massaging your partner, and getting irritated if they don’t share your enthusiasm.

It also pays not to keep a constant eye on their feed, especially not at first. Allow their posts to come up on your wall, alongside everyone else, but don’t spend too much time just on their page. A natural approach to seeing your partner’s daily activity is going to give a much more balanced approach to the relationship that constant feed monitoring (which can skew your perspective).

Oversharing is also a strong no-no. Yes, you may think your partner is adorable when sleeping, but don’t take a snap of them asleep without their consent and don’t even think of sharing it on social media without their permission. Such acts can seem humiliating, denote a lack of respect, and make your partner question your relationship boundaries.

If social media is self-expression then everyone deserves the right to manage (at least as much as is possible) how they are presented online, and as their partner, you should respect their online identity to the utmost extent.

If you catch yourself in a Facebook argument with your partner then take a step back. As difficult as it can be. Even with your partner, the buffer that the internet provides can give a certain amount of bravado and (dare we say) recklessness that can lead to saying things you will regret down the line. Plus, whatever you say will always be a simple copy & paste away should things ever get bitter—and no one wants their worst moments documented.

Oh, and if you’re just starting out in a relationship then take that status change seriously and don’t feel the need to rush it. Much like any step in a relationship, what you do and how you do it matters, so make that change count.

The Takeaway

Social media may seem like a natural part of our daily lives now, but it’s important to remember that it’s still a very new sensation, so many of the steps we’re taking on it today are entirely formative.

Relationships have never been experienced in the ways they are nowadays, and with amazing technology comes a certain amount of responsibility and a need for compassion and consideration.

Just remember, when it comes to social media you’re not just messing around on a screen—you’re bonding with your partner, as you would in any other way, and you should find that social media becomes an ally instead of an alienating factor in your love life.

Written by:

Dr. Emmeline Peaches
Follow Emmeline on Twitter